A physical therapist helps patients relieve pain, regain mobility, and improve their physical health. Obtaining a physical therapist license requires many years of dedication and financial commitment. California physiotherapists can make a decent living by assisting patients in regaining normalcy following an accident or injury.

However, if an unsatisfied client files a complaint against your practice or if you make a poor decision at work or elsewhere, you could lose your license. At the Law Office of Sara L. Caplan, we can help you if you risk losing your physical therapist license. Our attorneys serve in the city of Los Angeles, CA.

Understanding the Role of Physical Therapists

Accidental injuries have a devastating impact on the everyday lives of thousands of people. It makes even the most basic tasks difficult or impossible to complete. Some people could be inclined to give up when dealing with chronic medical conditions that limit movement, cause excruciating pain, and make it hard to maintain their overall health and fitness. However, physical therapists can help in this situation.

Physical therapists spend at least 5 years in school, earn a degree, and specialize in neuro-anatomy and biomechanics. Before starting their practice, they undergo extensive training and reach high levels of expertise through hands-on training. Getting into or staying in this field is difficult because of all the criteria involved. The conditions include federal and state-level tests and continuous learning, to name a few.

However, even if you persevere through training and the application process for a professional license, it is too easy for a formal claim or complaint to be brought against you. This endangers your professional license and career.

Physical therapists are often subjected to high, occasionally unreasonable expectations from patients and their loved ones. Additionally, even if you do everything possible, it is still possible for some people to not improve as hoped. Physical therapists can still make mistakes, no matter how much training they have.

A professional license defense attorney recognizes and understands physical therapists' duties in the state. They are also familiar with every aspect of the Physical Therapy Board of California's administrative procedure, from start to finish. When necessary, your skilled lawyer can negotiate a beneficial settlement and properly refute any complaints or charges against you.

The California Physical Therapy Board's Disciplinary Guidelines

The main objectives of the California Board of Physical Therapy are patient protection, public safety, and the provision of quality physical therapy services in the state. The board holds explicitly all licensed physical therapists in the state responsible for adhering to the Business and Professions Code, the Physical Therapy Practice Act, and other laws that ensure the continuation of competent, safe practice.

The Physical Therapy Board limits the number of licenses it issues, suspends or revokes current licenses, places licensees on probation, and, where necessary, takes other disciplinary actions to achieve its objectives. The board's online disciplinary guidelines provide specific recommendations to administrative law judges presiding over proceedings regarding alleged violations by physiotherapy license holders.

The following are examples of the common violations that could result in disciplinary action:

  • Arrests or convictions for felonies or misdemeanors that are "significantly linked" to your ability to carry out your practice safely.
  • Addiction or substance abuse—This becomes even worse if it happens while the physiotherapist is working.
  • Obtaining your license through fraud.
  • Paying or charging for referrals.
  • Multiple types of fraud—This includes insurance fraud and charging for a service that was not provided.
  • False or deceptive advertisements.
  • Driving under the influence (DUI), regardless of whether it occurred during working hours or not.
  • Unprofessional conduct.
  • Excessive prescription or treatment.
  • Sexual harassment and verbal abuse.
  • Sexual misconduct towards clients and patients.
  • Physical abuse.
  • Inability to practice safely, either physically or mentally.
  • Negligence or incompetence in practice.
  • Disclosing personal information about patients or clients without their consent.
  • Giving improper nutrition recommendations.
  • Allowing unlicensed individuals to work under you.
  • Violation of the license probation terms.
  • Exceeding your license's limitations.
  • Not providing adequate supervision to your assistants.
  • Failure to adhere to infection control rules.
  • Falsifying, changing, or failing to keep patient records properly.
  • Not providing or refusing to disclose medical records.

In most cases, allegations are baseless and do not call for a board inquiry. Additionally, most investigations result in the dismissal of claims due to lack of proof. However, you can't afford to risk losing your professional license by "testing your luck." Almost any claimed violation can result in the revocation of your license, which is the most severe punishment.

In many cases, your lawyer can obtain and present convincing evidence to have the charges dropped before or during the administrative hearing. Other times, the specifics of the case would require the attorneys to seek a favorable resolution allowing you to maintain your license. This usually involves a three-year probation period followed by a 30-day suspension. However, this is still preferable to losing your professional license and shutting down your business.

Your license will likely be revoked if you fail to submit a "Notice of Defense" or show up for your hearing in person or through your legal representative. If that fails, other options usually include probation or a delayed revocation.

Probation can occasionally call for a first suspension period to guarantee safe practices. If substance abuse is suspected, a clinical diagnostic assessment will be required. Psychological or physical examinations, further training, and other conditions could be imposed before the suspension is lifted and probation begins.

If the board is concerned about public safety, they may order an interim suspension while the investigation is ongoing. However, your professional license defense lawyer can often fight these suspensions to allow you to keep working while the inquiry is ongoing (which can occasionally take several months or years).

Probation also mandates that you pay back the board what they spent on the inquiry and probationary supervision. If this is beyond your means, your attorney can assist you in meeting the "cost recovery" requirement for a maximum of one year. Pay your bills on time because failing will be considered a probation violation.

Individuals who have a substance abuse addiction are often placed in probation programs. You can also self-refer to one of these programs. If you are already facing a probation order, self-referral can ensure that all information remains confidential.

Alternative Board Measures

The California Board of Physical Therapy could impose revocation, suspension, or probation, but these are not the only options. Two less drastic measures can occasionally be used to settle a case. These include:

  • Public Reprimand Letters.
  • Citations and Fines.

The California Board of Physical Therapy could publicly censure any physiotherapist or their assistant under BPC 495 as an alternative to suspending or revoking their license for a specific violation.

A letter of reprimand can be used in place of other professional discipline if the violation is considered an "isolated incident." This means that it is sufficiently remote from any subsequent violations that are unlikely to happen again and have been acknowledged by the offender. It can also be used if the perpetrator shows remorse for the wrongdoing and, in the case of substance abuse, has participated in a rehabilitation program for more than a year.

This disciplinary action is limited to relatively "minor" transgressions where the patient has not been harmed. The board can establish "stipulations" that the physical therapist should comply with to avoid more severe penalties. The physiotherapist could also accept the reprimand letter in exchange for a settlement agreement. The letter would be publicly available on the board's website, making it widely accessible to prospective employees and employers.

Although the California Board of Physical Therapy does not view citations and associated fees as proper disciplinary measures, the license holder will likely perceive them as such. The fine amount varies widely, from a hundred dollars to $5,000.

The board could issue citations and fines for minor breaches under BPC 125.9. The citation would be available to the general public. Though not as serious as a public letter of reprimand, it is still a blemish on your professional record and well worth defending with the assistance of a competent license defense attorney.

An "Order of Abatement" could also be attached to the fine and citation that mandates you stop the specific activity for which the ticket was issued.

Although paying the fee does not constitute an admission of guilt, it does make your name appear in public records as though you had accepted guilt. Paying the citation fees can cause problems in the future if another complaint is reported. Magistrates are less likely to be lenient when a prior violation is on your record.

You can also contest the citation by requesting a formal hearing or an informal conference. In this case, your lawyer can try to argue for a reduced fine or the dismissal of your citation, removing it from your file. A legitimate appeal should be made within the specified timeframe. However, you risk losing your license if you disregard the citations and refuse to pay the court fine.

Denial of Your License Application

A professional license attorney can also help secure your license application's approval. Even if your application is running behind schedule due to a past conviction or any other issue, they can assist you in gathering the necessary documents to overcome the obstacle.

In certain situations, obtaining a "first probationary license" under BPC 2660.5 is preferable to a straightforward denial. You can resume your practice without restrictions once you have completed your probationary period and met all requirements.

If your license is issued with conditions or is denied altogether, your lawyer can assist you in appealing the decision. They can also assist you in regaining your license following a revocation. If that's the case, you'll need to wait for the necessary processing time. However, if you use that time well, you can quickly improve your chances of processing your reinstatement.

An experienced license attorney can help you through every step to have your license reinstated or approved. After spending so much time, money, and effort studying to be a physical therapist, you do not have to sit and watch it all go away. There are strategies to retaliate and seek approval that will allow you to start or maintain your physical therapy practice.

How A Professional License Attorney Can Help

You could lose your physical therapy license if you are the subject of a complaint. As previously stated, a physiotherapist can face several kinds of allegations. However, it shouldn't be an option to lose your license. If you do this, you risk ruining your future and the ability to provide for your loved ones.

For this reason, it is recommended that you contact a seasoned professional license defense attorney right away when you receive any information from the state's Physical Therapy Board. There are several things your lawyer can do to defend you from such allegations.

Your legal representative can:

Evaluating the Charges Against You

The licensing board should give you enough details to answer the charges against you. Your defense attorney can assess the allegations that serve as the starting point for disciplinary action. Sometimes, plaintiffs fabricate or exaggerate their claims against the accused. For instance, an unhappy client can falsify a complaint to hurt you.

If there are eyewitnesses or supporting documents, your attorney can analyze the claimed facts and look into them. The investigation's findings will serve as the basis for you and your attorney's decision regarding how to handle the disciplinary action.

Ensure a Fair Hearing and Process

Your attorney will make sure you receive fair treatment as you prepare to address the complaints. There are specific protocols that disciplinary boards follow when hearing cases. A competent attorney can make sure the board follows those guidelines and you receive an impartial hearing.

Can I Still Work as a Physical Therapist While an Investigation is Ongoing?

A complaint filed against you could lead to an investigation into your professional license, which could lead to revocation, suspension, or probation. This means you can't practice physiotherapy anymore because your license will be considered inactive or suspended.

Find a Los Angeles Professional License Defense Attorney Near Me

Physical therapists shouldn't have to lose everything in a single day after putting in so much effort to obtain their professional license. That's why we at the Law Office of Sara L. Caplan offer professional license defense services. Our team allows healthcare professionals facing disciplinary action a second chance in their respective fields. If your professional license risks being revoked or suspended, call us today at 310-550-5877.