As a licensed professional, you must follow all the rules and laws of your job. A complaint against your license can result in disciplinary proceedings against you, which can lead to negative repercussions for your license and your career.
Regulatory Powers of the Texas Department of Health and Human Services
The Health Care Regulation (HCR) Department of the Texas Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) licenses and regulates both chemical dependency counselors and sex offender treatment providers in the state. Furthermore, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is a division of HHS. DSHS oversees the licensure and discipline of paramedics, all levels of EMTs, and Emergency Care Attendants (ECAs).
Chemical Dependency Counselors
Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselors (LCDCs) are subject to various rules and laws, including those that define their scope of practice. If HCR receives a complaint about an LCDC, it first determines whether it has jurisdiction over the complaint and whether it alleges a violation of a rule or law that pertains to an LCDC. HCR then forwards the complaint to its Substance Use Disorder Compliance Unit (SUDCU). SUDCU investigates the complaint and submits its findings to the HCR’s Enforcement Department for further review.
If HCR finds a violation has occurred, it will issue a notice of violation to the licensee and request a response within 15 days. Based on the nature of the violation and the licensee’s history of prior violations, HCR may take various disciplinary actions against a licensee under 25 Tex. Admin. Code §140.426(c), including:
- denying, refusing to issue, or refusing to renew a license, certification, or registration;
- revoking or suspending a license, certification, or registration;
- probating a suspension of a license, certification, or registration;
- imposing an administrative penalty against a person who violates the Act or a rule under this subchapter; or
- issuing a reprimand against the applicable license holder.
If HCR chooses to probate a license suspension, it will determine the length of the probation or suspension. It also may require the licensee to report to HHS regularly, limit practice to specific prescribed areas, or complete additional educational requirements to address any areas of concern.
Sex Offender Treatment Providers
Sex Offender Treatment Providers (SOTPs) must also follow the rules and laws. Complaints against SOPTs also go to SUDCU for investigation. However, SUDCU’s findings go to the Council on Sex Offender Treatment (CSOT), an agency administratively attached to HHS, rather than the Enforcement Department of HCR.
Under 22 Tex. Admin. Code §810.9, the Executive Director of CSOT initially reviews all complaints to determine if HHS has jurisdiction and whether they allege a violation of the laws or rules that govern SOTPs. If CSOT determines a violation has occurred, it will notify the licensee and their mental health or medical licensing agency. The Ethics Committee of CSOT is responsible for reviewing the complaint and determining whether there are sufficient grounds to support further investigation of the complaint or if dismissal is appropriate. The licensee must cooperate with CSOT during any pending investigation and respond to notification of the complaint within 20 days.
CSOT can take disciplinary action against the licensee if it decides a violation has occurred. CSOT can revoke, suspend, or deny a license, deny renewal of a license, place on probation a person whose license has been suspended, assess an administrative penalty, or issue a reprimand to a licensee. Placing a person on probation allows CSOT to impose certain limitations and restrictions on them for the probation period.
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Paramedics, EMTs, and ECAs
DSHS has a separate unit that regulates and disciplines paramedics, EMTs, and ECAs as it becomes necessary. The EMS Compliance Unit handles complaints against EMS personnel, EMS providers, EMS first responder organizations, EMS education programs, EMS course coordinators, and EMS instructors. EMS personnel covers all levels of paramedics, EMTs, and ECAs, including:
- Licensed Paramedic
- Advanced EMT
- Emergency Care Attendant (ECA)
25 Tex. Admin. Code §157.36 permits DSHS to suspend, revoke, or refuse to renew any EMS personnel license or to issue a reprimand for various grounds outlined in this section. DSHS also may probate a suspended license and require the licensee to complete certain conditions, such as regularly reporting to DSHS, limiting their practice areas, continuing or reviewing professional education, or meeting other requirements.
If DSHS intends to take one of these forms of disciplinary action against EMS personnel, it will notify the licensee of the intended action. The licensee then has 30 days to request an appeal hearing. If the licensee fails to request an appeal hearing within that timeframe, DSHS may proceed with the intended disciplinary action.
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Find Out More About How to Best Handle Your Disciplinary Proceedings
We want to help put you in the best position to protect your chemical dependency counselor or sex offender treatment provider license. As a result, you need immediate legal representation to defend your license from these potentially severe consequences. At Bertolino LLP, we offer experienced sex offender treatment and licensed defense services for those facing disciplinary action. Contact us today by calling (512) 515-9518 or online. We can analyze the circumstances that led to the complaint against you and determine the right legal strategy for you.