Occupational therapists make a lot of sacrifices to obtain a professional license because there are expenses, education, and training requirements. The process of getting this license can be very tedious and expensive. Keeping an occupational license can be difficult, and there is always the possibility that an injured or unhappy patient will file a complaint, alleging incompetence or unethical conduct. Occupational therapists work with people that are injured, physically or mentally impaired, or struggling to be self-reliant and dealing with daily living. Because of this, occupational therapists are held to a very high standard of competency and professionalism.
Regulations for Occupational Therapists
The Department of Public Health and the Occupational Therapist Licensure (OCL) regulate occupational therapists in Connecticut. The OCL makes sure that those that are practicing occupational therapy are upholding professional and ethical standards to protect the public. Part of this is receiving and investigating complaints. There are many different types of allegations against occupational therapists that center around the therapist’s profession and personal life. Some of the types of allegations that could lead to discipline include:
Practicing Without a Valid License
Committing Fraud to Obtain a License or Insurance Fraud
Hiring Unlicensed Assistants
Advertising With False or Misleading Statements
Incompetence, Negligence, or Gross Negligence
Poor Record Keeping or Mishandling Patient Records
Treating Patients While Under the Influence
Failing to Adhere to Infection and Control Standards
Releasing Confidential Patient Information
Being Convicted of a Misdemeanor or Felony That is Substantially Related to Duties
Mental, Physical, Sexual, or Financial Abuse of Patients
Consequences You Face
There are all different types of violations that could lead to disciplinary action or even loss of license. Some allegations could have worse consequences than others. For major violations like treating patients while under the influence, the OCL could automatically suspend the therapist’s license. Automatic suspension occurs when the OCL believes that if the therapist continues practicing, there is an immediate threat to patients, the public, or the therapist.
In major violations where this is not the case, the OCL may threaten to take away the therapist’s license but only after a hearing is given because there is no immediate threat. With minor violations, there are typically less severe consequences like a 30-day suspension, probation, fines, retraining, or substance abuse treatment.
When the OCL chooses to pursue substantiated allegations after an investigation, there are usually two choices for the licensee, which are settling or taking a plea to less severe consequences or requesting an administrative hearing. There are pros and cons to both options because often the plea can result in less than a license revocation. In an administrative hearing though, the licensee gets the opportunity to defend against the allegations and appeal the decision. The option lies with the licensee, but often the decision can be difficult and the process can be overwhelming to go through alone. If you have a license for occupational therapy and it is in jeopardy because of allegations made against you, contact our office today to speak with an attorney.