The Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) licenses and regulates the following Emergency Medical Services (EMS) occupations and entities:

  • Companies or providers
  • Initial education programs
  • Continuing education programs
  • Personnel, including 
    1. Emergency Care Attendants (ECAs)
    2. Emergency Medical Technicians-Basic (EMTs-Basic)
    3. EMTs-Paramedic
    4. Licensed Paramedics
  • Educators, including
    1. Instructors
    2. Course Coordinators

As a result, TDSHS is responsible for enforcing the laws and rules that govern people working in EMS positions and the companies that employ and educate them. They receive complaints about individuals and companies and investigate those complaints and take enforcement action if necessary. 

Initial Review and Investigation of TDSHS Complaints

When TDSHS receives a complaint, it will first review the complaint to ensure that it has jurisdiction over it. In other words, TDSHS will make sure that the complaint concerns one of the EMS personnel or entities that it regulates. Next, TDSHS will examine whether the complaint alleges a violation of either the EMS Act or EMS Rules has occurred. 

Common types of complaints that fall under the jurisdiction of TDSHS include:

  • Patient care issues
  • Violations of EMS protocols
  • Personnel with expired or no certifications or licenses
  • Deficiencies with equipment, supplies, or medications
  • Failure to resolve or follow up on consumer complaints
  • Drug or alcohol usage
  • Criminal convictions
  • Failure to document patient care, medication administration, or submit reports as required 
  • Unprofessional conduct that may endanger the public

Examples of complaints that do not fall within the jurisdiction of TDSHS include:

  • Billing issues
  • Rudeness or poor treatment by personnel
  • Violations of HIPAA or public health information
  • Complaints against licensed health professionals or facilities that are not EMS-related, such as hospitals or urgent care facilities or their personnel

Suppose TDSHS determines that it has jurisdiction over the complaint and a potential violation of the law or rules has occurred. In that case, it will open a formal investigation into the complaint and assign an investigator. The investigator will notify the subject of the complaint and request additional information. The investigation may take the form of mailed requests, emailed requests, phone interviews, and on-site visits in some cases. 

Enforcement Review Committee

Once the investigation is complete, the investigator will submit the results to the Enforcement Review Committee (ERC). The ERC determines if the person or company has committed any violations and, if so, what disciplinary action is appropriate. 

If ERC finds insufficient evidence that a violation occurred, it can close the case. Even if ERC finds or substantiates that a violation did occur, it also can find that no disciplinary action is warranted, such as where ERC has accepted the licensee’s corrective action plan or internal plan of remediation. 

Potential Types of Disciplinary Action

If ERC substantiates a violation of the law or rules that pertain to EMS personnel, companies, or education providers, it can impose varying degrees of discipline, including:

  • Reprimand
  • Administrative penalty (only for EMS providers)
  • Suspension or probated suspension
  • Revocation of certificate or license

In appropriate cases, ERC also can impose an emergency suspension of an EMS certificate or license if there is a reasonable cause to believe that the conduct of a certificate or license holder presents an immediate danger to public health and safety. 

Criminal History and EMS Licensure

Certain criminal convictions can cause you to be ineligible to receive any EMS certificate or license. In addition, if you already hold an EMS certificate or license, one of a specific list of convictions will result in the loss of your certificate or license. These crimes include serious criminal acts such as murder, aggravated robbery, and indecency with a child.

However, other criminal convictions that are not specified may or may not cause you to lose or be ineligible for an EMS certificate or license. In these situations, an EMS license defense lawyer can be invaluable in helping you obtain or maintain your certification or license. 

Under 25 Tex. Admin. Code § 157.37(e)(3), the factors that TDSHS will consider in determining whether a criminal offense directly relates to the duties and responsibilities of EMS personnel and would affect your ability to carry out those duties and responsibilities include:

  • 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 the same type of criminal activity
  • The relationship of the crime to the ability, capacity, or fitness required to perform the duties and discharge the responsibilities of EMS personnel
  • 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 or after release
  • Evidence that the person has maintained a record of steady employment; supported their dependents; maintained a record of good conduct; paid all outstanding court costs, supervision fees, fines, and restitution ordered in any criminal case

Get the Advice You Need About Your Professional License

The experienced professional license defense attorneys at Bertolino LLP, can look at your circumstances and help you devise the best strategy to protect your license. Call us today at (512) 515-9518 or get more information about us online.

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