Professionals, like every other member of society, are bound to state and federal laws which generally prohibit illegal conduct. Regulations are rules that are created by agencies that have authority over licensed professionals and they are maintained and enforced by the agencies. Each agency has a different set of regulations.
Agencies that Regulate Professionals
The Department of Social Services has a set of regulations on notices of intent, operational policies, and other regulations that control child care facilities, educational facilities, kindergarten programs, nursery schools, and camps. These regulations pertain mostly to who is allowed to work with children and how many people must be supervising children, depending on the situation.
The DCP has a Pharmacy Commission that has jurisdiction over pharmacists, pharmacies, interns, and non-resident pharmacies. The Drug Control enforces regulations on distributing drugs in the state as well as controlled substances and medications. Some of the regulations include the Pharmacy Practice Act, the State, Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and the State Controlled Substances Act.
The DPH, DCP, and the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) are agencies that make and enforce regulations on most professions. The Department of Consumer Protection regulates professionals in terms of continuing education, selling land, running charities, selling medical marijuana, certification of public accountants, liquor sales, and much more. The DESPP has regulations pertaining to fire fighter qualifications, procedures for emergency professionals, controlling carbon dioxide emissions, and environmental regulations.
Codes and regulations act as a self-regulating system where professions have their own autonomy and are responsible for their own professions and members. Professions maintain their own codes and agencies create the regulations and investigate into the professional licensees that do not comply. Boards have the investigative power and authority to impose punitive measures and disciplinary action through regulatory statutes, although these are usually consistent with professional codes within each profession that are designed to protect their patients and clients. If the conduct is illegal, then the board can allow or require that the case be remanded to criminal court and at that point, the criminal court has jurisdiction. This system allows the individual professions, agencies, and courts to work independently but still have checks and balances.
When agency regulations are violated, the board that has jurisdiction over the professional licensee will begin an investigation into the licensee’s conduct. If there is evidence of the conduct found and the board decides to move forward with the allegations, the board must give the licensee an opportunity for a hearing before license suspension or loss. Other times, the board will offer a disciplinary order that can educate the professional. If the violation was regarding the professional’s competency and performance, and not unprofessional or unethical conduct, this is more often the result. There are some programs that specifically pertain to ethics, like professional ethics for licensed physicians. There are other disciplinary actions such as drug or alcohol counseling if the violation involved working while under the influence.
For licensed professionals, it is important to understand that there are specific codes pertaining to the profession as well as regulations that the agency with jurisdiction has set. Violations of regulations could lead to disciplinary action, loss of licensure, and other consequences that could have a lasting impact on one’s career. If you are facing allegations that you have violated a regulation, call our office to speak with an attorney who can advise you and answer your questions.