Licensed massage therapists have spent countless time, money, and dedication to get the medical education and training to treat patients with therapy. Massage therapists often see patients that have aches and pains and injuries that make them vulnerable. Because of this, it can be scary to be responsible for relieving pain and possibly facing backlash from patients that are not happy with the results. Allegations against massage therapists could include issues with the therapist’s medical care or personal character. Allegations could be made against massage therapists and have no merit and could be rooted in general mistrust for therapists, revenge, spite, or unhappiness. Because of this, it is important for every massage therapist to be aware of the disciplinary process, no matter how professional and skilled they are.
Regulations From the Department of Public Health
The Department of Public Health regulates the massage therapy profession and massage therapy establishments. This Department can establish standards for regulating and licensing massage therapists and establishments, investigate any complaints they receive, and suspend or revoke licenses for those that violate laws or regulations as a massage therapist. The Department of Public Health, upon receiving a complaint against a massage therapist, can review and investigate the complaint and then discard it or investigate and pursue the allegations. In all cases though, this Department will take each allegation seriously and will conduct necessary investigations into the complaint.
Settlements and Hearings
Because allegations and investigations can be intimidating and overwhelming, many times massage therapists enter into settlement agreements with the Department of Public Health, rather than facing the allegations and fighting against them. Many times, massage therapists do not get the counseling they need because the Department may minimize the disciplinary action and other consequences or advise the licensee that they do not need legal representation.
Agreeing to take a settlement may be a mistake without knowing all the options, including fighting the allegations in a hearing. Settlement agreements could lead to more serious consequences than what it originally seems to because these agreements could lead to suspension of the license or other restrictions on the license as well as lost income and a damaged reputation.
Any allegation should be taken seriously but there are a few things that a licensee facing discipline should keep in mind.
First, if an investigation is being conducted into a massage therapist or massage establishment, the therapist is not required to make any statements to the investigator. The investigator may demand certain documents and records, but this does not mean that the therapist must make any type of oral or written statement. Before making any statement, the therapist should consult with an attorney.
Second, the therapist being investigated has the right to request an investigation report and be able to obtain a copy of that report when the investigation is complete.
Third, the therapist does not need to give up his or her license while an investigation is pending without first consulting with an attorney. In some cases, there is an automatic suspension of the license, but without this happening, the licensee does not need to give up his or her license without counsel. Lastly, a voluntary relinquishment of a license could be automatically reported to a national data bank as well as other states which could cause difficulties for a therapist that wants to keep practicing massage therapy.
If you are being investigated for allegations made against you or you are facing a conference or hearing before the Department of Public Health, you have the right to confer with counsel beforehand. Any allegations or investigation can be daunting, especially when going through it alone. Call our office today to speak with an experienced lawyer that can advise you on what your options are.