Monterey License Attorney


Occupational Therapy

The work of an occupational therapist is crucial, especially for people facing disabilities and challenges due to an existing medical condition. However, it takes work to receive and maintain a practicing license. First, you must undergo lengthy, tedious, and expensive training to acquire the skills to serve your clients satisfactorily. Then, you need to obtain a practicing license to work legally in the state. As if obtaining a practicing license is not enough, you must work hard and carefully to maintain it. You are subject to criticism, formal complaints, and lawsuits from dissatisfied clients.

The State Board of Occupational Therapy works round the clock to ensure that licensed physical therapists offer quality and legitimate services. They take customer complaints very seriously. It means you can quickly lose your license, even due to a minor disagreement with a client.

But we can help you at Monterey License Attorney understand your rights, options, and how to fight allegations that could result in a lost practicing license. We can investigate any complaint against you in Monterey and fight in court to defend your license, which is also your livelihood.

Your Role in Occupational Therapy

So many people today suffer from mental and physical impairments that challenge them to operate daily. Even people who were once very strong and productive today struggle to perform simple daily chores. As a therapist, your role in the lives of those people is crucial as you help them regain some of their ability to perform everyday tasks. Effective occupational therapy can assist a person to develop new or improve already-existing skills to become self-sufficient and enjoy easy daily living.

There are many reasons why some people lose their ability to perform daily tasks. For some people, it was a tragic mishap that left them reliant on others for support and daily care. Others were affected by a traumatic event like a severe crime or significant loss, and others were recovering from medical treatments like surgery. These people require assistance to regain their ability to operate normally. Occupational therapy can assist them in regaining their eating, cooking, and dressing skills and then slowly assist them in managing their money and time. Some require help to regain or improve their motor skills for daily performance.

Working as a therapist can also teach clients to use specific devices to help them cope better with their new lifestyle. Remember that some patients need a complete change in their lifestyle after an accident or treatment that changes their life. Your work would ensure they can efficiently perform at least some of their daily chores, even with assistive devices. You are also responsible for maintaining a record of their treatment, following up with the insurance companies, and ensuring they attend doctor appointments.

Your role in occupational therapy fosters a close relationship with your clients. You are fully involved in their daily lives and sometimes even in the lives of other family members. Your role also involves working in demanding situations to help people cope with their daily lives. That exposes you to possible challenges that could affect your license. You can easily make mistakes when involved in many challenging tasks and under undue pressure. It is also possible that the people you have worked very hard for will lodge false accusations or exaggerate accusations against you when a mistake happens. The family members, who have been passively involved with the patient, will quickly presume you guilty, regardless of how closely you worked with and for their kin.

False and sometimes exaggerated accusations can impact your livelihood. Losing your practicing license means you can no longer practice a career that took you years, a lot of time, and money to build. That is why you are advised to work closely with a license attorney. A skilled license attorney understands how valuable your role is and the chances you take to ensure that the injured enjoy better lives. An experienced attorney is acquainted with the legal processes involved whenever there is a complaint against a licensed healthcare professional. They can help you understand your options and build a concrete defense against your accusations. They also know how to bargain for a penalty reduction, case dismissal, or any other possible favorable outcome for your case.

Disciplinary Guidelines for Licensed Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists in California are governed by the Occupational Therapist Practice Code, the Business & Professions Act, and other regulations governing professional practices within the state. You must understand these regulations and make a mental note to abide by them throughout your practice. A violation of these guidelines will result in a complaint against you to the Board. This is the body that licenses occupational therapists like you. When a patient, relative, or anyone else complains about the board, you risk losing your practicing license and the career you have worked hard for.

When the board receives a complaint against you, they first consider the details and grounds of the complaint to decide whether it is worth investigating. If the complaint is severe, you could receive a call or notice to appear before a board investigator. You must wait to answer the allegations until you speak to an attorney. If you have an attorney, let them accompany you for this meeting. That way, you will avoid incriminating yourself.

Disciplinary guidelines for occupational therapists by the board are available online. An administrative law judge presiding over your hearing will use these guidelines to establish the nature and extent of your violation. For example, there are guidelines requiring occupational therapists to avoid alcohol and substance abuse. If you have violated a related approach, you could face additional penalties from a criminal judge on top of what the policies provide.

But a skilled license defense attorney can fight against your charges for a less severe penalty. For example, they can present mitigating factors if there is strong evidence against you and the judge cannot dismiss your charges. Here are some typical accusations you can face as a therapist:

  • Practicing without a valid professional license.
  • Obtaining a professional license in fraudulent means.
  • Allowing unqualified assistants to help you in capacities that require qualification and licensing.
  • Misleading or false advertising techniques.
  • Insurance fraud or any other fraud-related crime.
  • Ordinary negligence, gross negligence, or incompetence.
  • Maintaining faulty or falsified patient records.
  • Illegally changing a patient’s prescription.
  • Drug and substance abuse, mainly when done during working hours.
  • Dealing in illicit drugs or illegal prescription medicine.
  • Failing to adhere to required infection control standards.
  • Failure to maintain patient confidentiality.
  • A criminal sentence (felony or misdemeanor) that makes it impossible to continue rendering your services safely.
  • Sexual misconduct or abuse against a patient.
  • Any type of mental, physical, or financial abuse against a patient.

Some violations are minor, while others are severe, requiring severe action against you by the regulating board. For example, handling a patient while intoxicated is severe and could result in the immediate dismissal of your practicing license. The board will require you to stop working until the investigation against you is over. Even a minor allegation, like threatening a patient with bodily harm, can compel the board to take immediate action.

The board has various disciplinary actions against occupational therapists who violate their professional code of conduct. The maximum discipline you can receive is a license revocation order. It means that the board can cancel your license indefinitely. In severe cases, an experienced licensed attorney can negotiate for a less severe settlement that allows you to continue practicing your profession. For example, the board can suspend your license for a few months and place you on probation for a few years. An aggressive attorney can give your career a second chance, regardless of the severity of the allegations against you.

Administrative Hearings for Occupational Therapists

The Board of Occupational Therapy will hold a hearing after receiving a severe complaint against you. The board will promptly warn you against further violations if a minor complaint is not worth investigating. But in the case of a severe complaint, the board can start investigating and contact you with a hearing date once it has sufficient evidence against you.

However, the board does not hear all administrative cases brought to it by complainants. A brilliant license defense attorney will take action before the hearing. For example, they can plead for leniency on your behalf. If the board agrees, it can send a warning on the phone or through a mail notice. But if the allegations are severe, you will attend the hearing.

An administrative law judge will preside over your case. They will hear evidence against you and allow you or your attorney to present evidence to favor your case. A skilled attorney will present exculpatory and mitigating evidence to water down the allegations against you. They can also expose weaknesses in the case and false allegations. They will also cross-examine witnesses and call expert witnesses to strengthen your case.

Attending the administrative hearing on the set date and time is advisable. Even though your presence is not mandatory, it could benefit your case. Your attorney will advise you when you can or cannot attend the hearing to ensure that your presence or absence does not further impact your situation.

Legal representation is also necessary in these hearings. You can incriminate yourself if you decide to represent yourself in these hearings. Additionally, an experienced attorney will know when to negotiate for a case dismissal, sentence reduction, or probation, depending on the facts of your case. An attorney will also prepare you for every legal process to put your mind at ease. Legal representation also increases your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome for your case.

What The Judge Considers to Render a Verdict

The judge must hear the case against you and study the evidence presented to decide. Here are some of the factors that can influence a judge’s decision on your case:

  • Nature and gravity of the violation.
  • If the patient or someone else suffered actual harm through your actions or omissions.
  • Possible harm the patient or someone else could have suffered or is likely to suffer if you repeat your actions or omissions.
  • If you have had prior disciplinary actions by the board.
  • If the violation is a single case or multiple cases.
  • Aggravating factors that could heighten your penalty.
  • Mitigating circumstances that could reduce the penalty.
  • Proof of prior treatment and rehabilitation.
  • Evidence of criminal acts related to your position in occupational therapy, how previous the criminal case was, and if you served your sentence successfully.
  • If you were cooperative during the case investigation.
  • If you admit to wrongdoing.

How the board handles some of these cases depends on the case's specific details. For example, an alcohol- or drug-related matter will require a different approach from a patient’s safety case. If the board suspects you have an alcohol or drug problem, it must substantiate its suspicions by having you undergo a clinical evaluation. The diagnosis will determine if you pose a threat to yourself or others. It will also trigger a recommendation for treatment and rehabilitation. Your practicing licenses will be suspended during that period. But you can ultimately have it reinstated and continue practicing once you are rehabilitated.

The judge can place you on probation in a less severe case instead of revoking or suspending your license. In that case, you should continue working and serving your clients, but with specific requirements and restrictions. Some of the conditions you could receive while on probation include:

  • Avoiding arrests and prosecutions at all cost.
  • Complying with the reporting requirements of your probation.
  • Making appearances as ordered by the board.
  • Notifying your employer about the case and your probation.
  • Notifying the board if you change your contact information or address.

Additionally, you could be required to repay the board the cost of investigations against you and cover monitoring costs during probation. Failing to make these payments could be considered a probation violation.

Find a Competent License Defense Attorney Near Me

Has someone complained about your occupational therapy practice in Monterey?

That could impact your practicing license and cause you to lose a career you have established for years. You need to speak to a skilled license defense attorney immediately for advice and help to fight the allegations and protect your professional license.

We understand the importance of protecting your license at Monterey License Attorney. That is why we put up a reliable defense against our clients’ charges. We can investigate your case, advise you on your options, protect your rights, and represent you in the administrative hearing. Call us at 831-296-1191 to learn more about what we can do for you.

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