The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), a Texas Department of Health and Human Services division, licenses and regulates Paramedics, EMTs, and Emergency Care Attendants (ECAs) in Texas. If you are one of these professionals and a client files a complaint against you, DSHS also handles the complaint and any disciplinary proceedings. Any licensed professionals in this situation should consult an EMT certification defense attorney for help.
Processing Complaints Against EMTs
When DSHS receives a complaint about an EMT, DSHS staff first determines whether it has jurisdiction over the complaint. Examples of issues that do not fall under DSHS jurisdiction include:
- Billing or collection issues
- Rudeness or unprofessional behavior
- Public health information or HIPAA violations
- Complaints against licensed professionals other than EMTs or EMS personnel
A staff member then decides whether the complaint alleges a violation of a rule or law governing EMTs. If the complaint meets these criteria, DSHS will open a formal investigation and request more information from the certified EMT who is the subject of the complaint.
The time it takes to complete an investigation varies from case to case. A case may take longer to investigate due to complex facts, circumstances outside the investigator’s control, or if the EMT under investigation needs to be more cooperative or forthcoming with the investigative process.
After completing the investigation, the investigator forwards the case to the Enforcement Review Committee (ERC) for review. Based on the investigation, ERC decides whether a violation occurred and what disciplinary action is appropriate, if any.
Grounds for Suspension or Revocation of EMT Certification
25 Tex. Admin. Code §157.36 outlines a long list of grounds for DSHS to suspend or revoke an EMT’s certification. These grounds include violating any rule or law that governs EMTs, falsifying records, and causing or permitting the abuse of patients, among other actions. Conviction of or placement on deferred adjudication for certain criminal activities also can result in suspension or revocation of an EMT’s certification.
Understanding the Suspension or Revocation Process
If DSHS proposes to suspend or revoke an EMT’s certification based on one or more statutory grounds, it must notify the EMT of the alleged violation(s). The EMT then has the right to request an appeal hearing within 30 days of the date of the notice of violation. If the EMT fails to request an appeal hearing within 30 days, the individual is deemed to have waived an appeal, and DSHS can proceed with the intended disciplinary action.
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Potential Disciplinary Sanctions for EMTs
It can close the case if DSHS staff finds insufficient evidence of any violation. Even if DSHS staff substantiates a minor violation, it can determine that no disciplinary action is warranted and accept the EMT’s plan of correction or internal remediation.
DSHS can impose an emergency suspension of an EMT certification separately from any disciplinary proceeding. DSHS can take this action if it has reasonable cause to believe that the EMT’s conduct is dangerous to the public’s health and safety.
If DSHS staff decides that a violation has occurred that necessitates disciplinary action, it can take one of the following actions:
- Issue a reprimand to the EMT
- Suspend a certification
- Probate a suspended certification
- Revoke a certification
If DSHS opts to probate a certification, it may require the EMT to do any or all of the following as a condition of probation:
- regularly report to the department on matters that are the basis of the probation;
- limit practice to the areas prescribed by DSHS;
- continue or review professional education until the person attains a degree of skill satisfactory to DSHS in those areas that are the basis of the probation; and
- complete or continue to meet specific requirements or conditions related to the circumstances surrounding the certificate rule violations or background to ensure they will continue to meet and maintain general EMS standards.
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Factors that DSHS Considers in Determining Sanctions for Criminal Offenses
Tex. Health and Safety Code §773.0615 provides that DSHS must consider certain factors in determining whether a criminal offense directly relates to the duties and responsibilities of EMS personnel, including the following:
- the nature and seriousness of the crime;
- the relationship of the crime to the purposes for requiring certification to engage in emergency medical services;
- the extent to which certification might offer an opportunity to engage in further criminal activity of the same type as that in which the person previously had been involved; and
- the relationship of the crime to the ability, capacity, or fitness required to perform the duties and discharge the responsibilities of emergency medical services personnel.
Additionally, in deciding the fitness of an EMT to perform their professional duties after conviction or being placed on deferred adjudication for certain crimes, DSHS must consider the following factors:
- the extent and nature of the person’s past criminal activity;
- the age of the person when the crime was committed;
- the amount of time that has elapsed since the person’s last criminal activity;
- the conduct and work activity of the person before and after the criminal activity;
- evidence of the person’s rehabilitation or rehabilitative effort while incarcerated, after release, or since the imposition of community supervision or deferred adjudication; and
- other evidence of the person’s fitness, including letters of recommendation from:
- prosecutors, law enforcement officers, correctional officers, or community supervision officers who prosecuted, arrested, or had custodial or other responsibility for the person;
- the sheriff or chief of police in the community where the person resides; and
- any other person in contact with the person.
We Are Here to Help You Fight Back and Protect Your License
The EMT license defense lawyers of Bertolino LLP, can help you navigate the complaint process and gather the evidence you need to defend your license. In addition, we can fight back against misconduct allegations and work to clear your name. Call us today at (512) 515-9518 to reach the offices of Bertolino LLP, or contact us online.