Working hard to secure your license in practicing Psychology is no mean feat, considering all the challenges and expenses involved. Your journey begins in school, where you study hard to pass your examinations. Additionally, the license application process is also demanding, based on the numerous requirements you must fulfill. Therefore, you must fight for your license in cases of allegations charged against you for professional misconduct. The accusations arise from different circumstances and require you to appear before the California Board of Psychology for an administrative hearing. While you may think of representing yourself in such formal or informal sessions, it would help to have a defense attorney present. With the help of a well-experienced lawyer, you will make all adequate preparations that help you make persuasive presentations and defenses during the administrative hearing.
At The Legal Guardian, we dedicate our legal services to helping you combat accusations that put your practicing license at risk. With our years of experience in the field of professional healthcare license defense, you can count on us to deliver exceptional services and support throughout your administrative hearing and beyond. Our goal is to ensure that you receive a fair administrative process that does not put you in a disadvantaged position despite engaging in professional malpractice.
The Role of Psychologist in Society
We value a psychologist's professional role, especially because of the operational versatility involved in the field. As a licensed psychologist, you are likely to deal with multiple patients dealing with various conditions. Moreover, you are responsible for ensuring continuous progress and improvement of the patient's mental health.
Through your services, many patients receive support when battling conditions like substance addiction. With continuous sessions, you get to observe patients improve and become independent of the drug abuse. Additionally, you may interact with suicidal patients who also suffer from depression. Doubtless, dealing with such delicate conditions requires a high skill level that only dedicated and experienced psychologists have.
Among many other roles, you may also have to deal with family disparities by hosting family therapy to get loved ones in good terms. Therefore, the interactions impose a duty to maintain relationships with many people who have common interests while upholding neutrality and professionalism.
We understand your job's demanding nature and are aware of the possible pressure it may subject you to. Thus, it is not uncommon to deal with several disciplinary cases that may put your licenses at risk. It is also important to remember that even the best professionals are sometimes subject to errors and deserve a fair fighting chance before losing their practicing license.
Accusations Leading to License Administrative Hearings
California confers the Board of Psychology with the authority to issue practicing licenses to qualified psychologists. Similarly, the board has the mandate to handle administrative procedures that may lead to your loss of practicing license after facing accusations from clients or other whistleblowers.
Normally, some accusations are more serious than others because they imply significant depravity in professionalism and morality. You will face minor action that aims to reprimand, rather than impose sanctions on your practice in less serious cases.
As a licensee who may lose your right to practice, it is crucial to understand the types of allegations that put your career at risk. Doing so will educate you on possible causes for an administrative notice you have recently received and kept you out of future trouble. The main accusations made against psychologists are:
You Violated a Patient's Right to Confidentiality
As a professional helping patients with personal mental health restoration, you will encounter some issues that should always remain private. Confidentiality is part of a code of conduct applicable to healthcare professionals in all medical fields to protect the patient from undue scrutiny.
Subsequently, if you reveal a patient's private information to another or members outside your clinic, you will be liable to face administrative action. The restrictions on patient confidentiality are stringent, such that it is unlawful to discuss a patient's details even with close people like your spouse. Hence, when an accusation arises about your breach of confidentiality, the Board of Psychology takes it seriously and will summon you for a hearing.
Obtaining Your Practice License Fraudulently
As mentioned, only the Board of Psychology can issue a practicing license. The board has several requirements that you must fulfill, including making payments and presenting your scores and analysis recommendations. For most people, the license application process is draining and expensive, meaning that it would be easier if there were a shorter and faster way to obtain the license.
Consequently, you may involve yourself in fraudulent activities to speed the license issuing process up. The mode of fraud you engage in may vary, but the underlying factor is that you will have used pretenses or lies to obtain your license. If the board later discovers your illegal activities, it works quickly to summon you for an administrative hearing that will begin the license suspension or revocation.
You Abuse Drugs or Alcohol at Work
Getting drunk or high at work is a serious offense that could put you or your patient's safety at risk. Additionally, it is unprofessional for you to conduct sessions with patients while intoxicated, as you may issue wrong prescription notes, drugs, or even counseling advice. Overall, using alcohol or drugs while at work may also indicate more underlying issues that derail your professionalism and ultimately drives your patients away.
If a patient or a co-worker fears for their safety because you tend to abuse drugs, he/she will report your conduct to the relevant body that draws attention from the administrative board. Subsequently, you will have to explain your unprofessional conduct and face the consequences.
Sexual Relationships or Abuse With Your Clients
Furthermore, sexually engaging with your clients is frowned upon, as it compromises your professional standing with the client. In return, the client may become unresponsive to therapy sessions with you because of the existing sexual relationship. Consequently, it is unlawful for you to engage with your patient beyond the professional limits. You are also prohibited from having a sexual relationship with any client you have worked with within two years. Hence, even if you completed treatment on the person, you must wait for the time-lapse to initiate a relationship.
Sexual harassment and abuse will also attract administrative hearings on your side based on your conduct's illegal nature. Usually, sexual abuse may range from inappropriate utterances with clients to physical abuse, whereby you force yourself on clients. Doubtless, such actions will attract severe administrative consequences.
Conducting Treatment Services With Gross Misconduct or Incompetently
As a trained professional, your patients expect you to provide high-quality treatment services that exclude negligence or incompetence in practice. For example, it would be highly negligent of you to prescribe the wrong dose of anti-depressants on a patient dealing with depression symptoms because it could cause further complications.
It would help if you also exercised specific discretion levels when dealing with vulnerable patients who need extra supervision. Therefore, a failure to recommend an elaborate treatment plan for such patients may put them in serious harm, leading to adverse consequences. If the administrative board receives complaints concerning your incompetence, you may risk losing your practice license.
Having a Criminal Record Related to Your Work
While having a past criminal conviction in your record may be excused upon an objective analysis, you are exposed to additional scrutiny for convictions related to your field of work. The imposition of strict rules and analysis exists because of your clients' apparent risk for consulting you without knowledge of your prior conviction.
When you fail to disclose your criminal record upfront to any interested clients, they may file accusations against you that attract administrative action. The board may also decide to take action against you after facing a current conviction as additional penalties for your crime.
Making False Advertisements and Paid Referrals
Upon making false or exaggerated advertisements, you create unrealistic expectations for potential clients who will approach your clinic under inauthentic circumstances. For example, suppose you include wordplay that makes the client thinks he/she will receive a discount for the first consultation while there is none. In that case, the person has a right to file formal accusations against you and request the board to conduct an administrative hearing.
Moreover, using paid referrals to attract more clients is not a genuine way of getting new clientele. The primary reason paid referrals are not encouraged is that patients seek your services from another person's experience, which may not be similar for them. You are also bound to receive patients with conditions that your license does not allow you to handle.
Committing Insurance Fraud
Taking advantage of your clients by engaging in insurance fraud is gross professional misconduct that creates significant losses to the fraud victims. Often, insurance fraud happens when you overcharge or double charge a patient and concealing notifications form the insurance. Once the transaction is complete, you will then print a receipt that indicates the regular transactions that should have occurred.
Suppose a patient or the insurance company discovers your misconduct and reports you to the board. In that case, you will undergo an intensive disciplinary hearing that includes assessing the unlawful profit you amassed and the number of patients you committed fraud against.
The Administrative Proceedings
Once the board receives complaints or accusations against you, you will have a specified period where your lawyer should apply for a hearing. A failure to make the administrative hearing application on time will translate to a waiver of your right to a fair hearing. As a result, the board may proceed to issue their sanctions and penalties that you must comply with, or risk losing your practicing license for life.
The proceedings begin shortly after the board accepts your application. Therefore, you will have to work closely with your lawyer to make adequate preparations for the session. Your attorney can create legal arguments or defenses applicable to your case for presentation when the board allows him/her to do so.
When the disciplinary board members and your lawyer have discussed the various elements of the accusations you face, the board then deliberates on the way forward. Usually, the disciplinary board takes a short time to issue administrative orders because the deliberating members refer to the Board of Psychology's disciplinary guidelines. Your case may warrant disciplinary or non-disciplinary action, depending on the severity of accusations.
Disciplinary Administrative Orders
Facing disciplinary orders brings about more severe penalties that could affect your practice significantly. Most orders issued are also available to the public upon request, meaning that your reputation is also at risk after receiving the administrative orders. They are:
Once the disciplinary board receives a formal statement of your charges, it can issue probation orders against you. The orders are only valid if the administrative law judge or settlements from a deliberating body issues them. Upon receiving probation orders, you cannot practice for a specified period until you satisfy several requirements for the disciplinary board's guidelines. For example, you may have to pay restitution to your clients if your misconduct involved insurance fraud.
During probation, the status of your license is revoked. However, revocation's applicability stays as long as you continue complying with the disciplinary board guidelines. After the probation period lapses, you can then apply for license reinstatement.
A suspension order is often part of probation and requires you to stop practicing for a stipulated period. Your license is invalid during the suspension, meaning that you cannot practice or refer yourself as a psychologist. Additionally, since the suspension order is administrative, any public member will learn of your case after making a formal request.
Letter of Reproval
If your license attorney successfully negotiates with the board of psychology members, you will receive a letter of reproval. Essentially, the letter gives you the chance to make a settlement for the accusations you face, instead of having your license suspended or revoked. For example, if you acquired patients through paid referrals, you will have to issue disclaimers to patients and cease making additional payments to those you recruited to refer to new clients.
A license revocation is the most serious disciplinary action, as it leads to a complete loss of license for an indefinite period. Thus, you may be out of work for a long time without the surety of license reinstatement. Usually, license relocations apply to severe accusations like sexual abuse of patients. When you receive such an order, you will have to wait for three years before re-applying for reinstatement. However, you are not assured of a positive outcome even after making the petition.
Interim Suspension Order
The orders apply when the disciplinary board must act quickly to avoid exposing your patients to immediate risk. When the board receives accusations of gross misconduct like drug abuse resulting in violence at work, you will likely receive the interim orders to suspend you from working. Once the board stops the immediate risk of harm, the affected parties must then file official accusation forms and begin hearings within fifteen days after you receive the interim suspension order.
Surrendering Your License
Lastly, you may opt to surrender your license before a disciplinary hearing begins. However, the board will only allow you to surrender the license if it receives formal accusations against you. After surrendering the license, you have to wait for three years before applying for license reinstatement.
Non- Administrative Disciplinary Orders
Citations and Fines
A citation is an official record of your wrongdoing that appears in your record. Thus, even though you get to keep your license, the record will be available to any requesting member of the public. Mostly, citations apply in cases like false advertising to prevent you from doing it again. Apart from the citation, you will also have to pay fines for misconduct. They range between $100 to $2500 for one violation, depending on the circumstances of your case.
A warning letter is a confidential document that contains your wrongful actions and statutory provisions that prohibit you from engaging in such conduct. Moreover, a warning letter will indicate the consequences you will face for engaging in similar offenses to those charged in the future. Therefore, the primary goal for such letters is to inform you of the conduct you must uphold.
Case Closure With No Action
Sometimes, you may have faced false accusations that nevertheless led to an administrative hearing. If the board members establish that you are innocent of accusations brought against you, they will dismiss the case and not undertake any action. The non-disciplinary action also applies where, despite accurate allegations, the evidence brought against you is insufficient.
Find a Healthcare License Attorney Near Me
Losing your Psychology license for minor misconduct at work may be devastating, especially after spending years learning and perfecting your craft in the field. Moreover, you will face additional challenges by facing the board by yourself because of the numerous preparatory processes you must undertake. Therefore, it is advisable to partner with a licensed attorney who will ease the burden and represent you during the administrative disciplinary hearing.
We at The Legal Guardian work to provide the best legal services in Long Beach, California, to all clients who risk losing their healthcare practicing license. With our brilliant team of lawyers and our high value for brilliant professional services, you can count on us to support you through fighting for your Psychology license. To get in touch, call us today at 888-293-0396.