Model Licensure Statute
CHAPTER I: REGULATION OF THE PROFESSION OF AUDIOLOGY
SEC. 1 STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
Audiology is hereby declared to be a learned profession, affecting public safety and welfare and charged with the public interest, and therefore subject to protection and regulation by the State. It is the policy of the State to assure the availability of the highest possible quality of audiology services to the people of this State. It is furthermore the policy of the State to serve the public by further expanded education and training requirements for providers of audiology services, through transition to doctorate status for all such providers.
SEC. 2 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Terms used in this chapter mean:
2.1 "Accredited program," either of the following:
- A program leading to the award of a degree in audiology that is accredited by an organization recognized for that purpose by the United States Department of Education; or
- Prior to January 1, 2007, a program offered by a regionally accredited institution of higher education leading to the award of a doctor of audiology degree to persons already holding a masters degree in audiology from a program accredited pursuant to subsection (a).
2.2 "Affiliated person," an individual holding a license:
- Who alone, or in combination with other persons holding licenses, owns, controls, or holds with power to vote, 51 percent or more of the outstanding voting securities of, or otherwise directly owns and controls, a person providing audiology services that is not an individual; and
- Who is a managing partner, chief executive officer, managing director, or occupies a similar status or performs similar functions with respect to such person providing audiology services that is not an individual.
2.3 "Audiogram," a graphic or tabular summary of the measurements of hearing, showing a person's hearing threshold levels for pure tones.
2.4 "Audiologist," any person that engages in the practice of audiology. A person represents oneself to be an audiologist if that person holds out to the public that the person practices audiology, by any means, or by any service or function performed, directly or indirectly, or by using the terms audiological, audiologist, audiology, audiometrics, audiometrist, aural rehabilitationist, balance center, hearing aid audiologist, hearing and balance center, hearing and balance specialist, vestibular specialist, hearing center, hearing clinic, hearing clinician, hearing conservation, hearing conservationist, hearing therapist, hearing therapy, or any variation or synonym which expresses, employs, or implies these terms or functions.
- The application of principles, methods, and procedures related to the development and disorders of the human auditory-vestibular system, which disorders shall include any and all conditions whether of organic or functional origin, including, but not limited to, disorders of hearing, balance, tinnitus, auditory processing and other neural functions, as those principles, methods and procedures are taught in doctoral programs in audiology in accredited programs.
- Such principles, methods or procedures include, without limitation, those of diagnosis, assessment, measurement, testing, appraisal, evaluation, rehabilitation, treatment, prevention, conservation, identification, consultation, counseling, intervention, management, interpretation, instruction or research related to hearing, vestibular function, balance and fall prevention, and associated neural systems, or any abnormal condition related to tinnitus, auditory sensitivity, acuity, function or processing, speech, language or other aberrant behavior resulting from hearing loss, for the purpose of diagnosing, designing, and implementing audiological management and treatment or other programs for the amelioration of such disorders and conditions. Management and treatment shall include but not be limited to the activities described in subsection 2.5(c) below.
- Engaging in the practice of prescribing, selecting, specifying, evaluating, assisting in the adjustment to, and dispensing of prosthetic devices for hearing loss, including hearing aids, and hearing assistive devices by means of specialized audiometric equipment or by any other means accepted by the board.
2.6 "Audiology assistant," an unlicensed individual who provides specified services under the supervision of a licensee.
2.7 "Board," the State Board of Audiology.
2.8 "Disorders of balance," any or all conditions, whether of organic or functional origin, of decreased or impaired balance function.
2.9 "Disorders of hearing," any or all conditions, whether of organic or functional origin, peripheral or central, that impede the normal process of human communication including disorders of auditory sensitivity, acuity, function, or processing.
2.10 "Dispense," any transfer of title, possession, or of the right to use by lease, sale, bailment, or any other contract, excluding wholesale transactions with a distributor or dealer.
2.11 "Doctor of Audiology," an individual who holds a doctor of audiology degree from an accredited program, or the equivalent as determined by the board.
2.12 "Hearing aid," any wearable, implantable or partially implantable instrument or device, including an assistive hearing device, designed for or offered or represented as aiding or compensating for impaired human hearing and any attachments, or accessories to the instrument or device, including ear molds, but excluding batteries and cords or accessories thereto, or equipment, devices, and attachments used in conjunction with services provided by a public utility company.
2.13 "Hearing screening," a binary puretone screening at a preset intensity level for the purpose of determining if the screened individuals are in need of further medical or audiological evaluation. Measurements of auditory thresholds are not included in hearing screening procedures.
2.14 "Instruction," any of the following:
- Teaching students in institutions of higher education;
- Teaching classes or courses in professional development or continuing education.
2.15 "License," any license issued by the board to practice audiology.
2.16 "Licensee," a person holding a license to practice audiology issued pursuant to this chapter, but not including the holder of a provisional license.
2.17 "Person," any individual, group, association, limited or general partnership, corporation, or any other business entity.
2.18 "Preceptor," any person who is licensed and has the responsibility of supervising or overseeing the training or activities of assistants, students, externs, provisional license holders and others providing audiological services without full licenses.
2.19 "Provisional license," any license issued to an applicant not enrolled in a doctor of audiology program who is practicing audiology while completing any postgraduate professional experience as required by this chapter and who is supervised by a person who is a licensee.
2.20 "Rental or selling of hearing aids," the selection, adaptation, and sale or rental of hearing aids. Also included is the making of impressions for ear molds and instruction pertaining to the use of hearing aids, as well as the repair of hearing aids.
2.21 "Research," the systematic investigation designed to develop or contribute to knowledge about human communication, human communication disorders, balance disorders, and evaluation or treatment strategies. Activities which meet this definition constitute research. However, "research" as used in this chapter for the purpose of requiring licensure does not include activities that take place under the auspices of a recognized institutional review board, which reviews, approves, and monitors proposals.
2.22 "Sell" or "sale," as defined in Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code as adopted in this State.
2.23 "Telehealth communications" the use of telecommunications and information technologies for the exchange of information from one site to another for the provision of audiologic care to an individual at a distance from the provider through hardwire or internet connections.
SEC. 3 BOARD OF AUDIOLOGY
There is hereby created the State Board of Audiology with the duties and powers as provided in this chapter. The primary responsibility and obligation of the board is to protect the public and uphold the public trust.
3.1 Composition of board – Qualifications
The board shall consist of seven members who have been residents of this State for at least one year prior to their appointment. Five members of the board shall be licensees. At least three of the audiologists appointed to the board shall hold the degree of Doctor of Audiology. Two members of the board shall be representatives of the public, as further set forth in Section 3.3 below.
3.2 Appointments to board from recommended list
The audiologist members of the board enumerated in Section 3.1 shall be appointed by the Governor from lists of at least two qualified audiologists for each open position, submitted by any organization of audiologists incorporated within the State and having tax-exempt status as determined by the federal Internal Revenue Service. No member of the board may concurrently serve in an elected, appointed, or employed position that presents an actual conflict of interest.
3.3 Lay members of board – Appointment and term of office
The membership of the board shall include two lay members who shall be appointed by the Governor and shall have the same term of office as other members of the board. The lay members of the board shall be members of the general public who:
- Are not and have never been audiologists or hearing aid dispensers.
- Have no household member who is an audiologist or hearing aid dispenser.
- Have not had, within two years before appointment, a financial interest in a person regulated by the board.
One such lay member shall be a consumer of audiology services.
3.4 Terms of office of board members
Board members shall be appointed for a term of three years. However, members who are on the board as of , shall continue to serve until replaced by the Governor. Each member shall serve until a successor has been appointed.
3.5 Limitation on reappointment of board member
No member of the board may serve more than two consecutive three-year terms or be reappointed to the board until at least one year after the expiration of the member's second term of office. The Governor may remove a member of the board for dishonorable conduct, incompetence, or neglect of duty, including but not limited to conduct that would warrant disciplinary action under this chapter.
3.6 Vacancies on board
In the event of a vacancy on the board caused by the death of a member, resignation, removal from the state, or for any other reason, the Governor shall appoint a new member to serve out the unexpired term.
3.7 Election of chair and secretary-treasurer of board
The members of the board shall annually elect one such member as chair and another member to serve as secretary-treasurer of the board.
3.8 Meetings of board
The board shall meet at least quarterly to conduct business at a place and time it determines. Additional meetings may be convened at the call of the chair to carry out the purposes of this chapter. Four members of the board constitute a quorum to conduct business.
3.9 Per diem and expenses of board
Board members shall receive a per diem compensation as otherwise established by law while actually engaged in official duties. The board may hire office personnel necessary to carry on its official duties.
3.10 Disposition of money received by board
All monies coming into the custody of the board, including license fees, renewal fees, penalty fees, reciprocity fees, late fees, and any other payments, shall be handled as otherwise provided by law for state boards and commissions. The total expenses incurred by the board may not exceed the total moneys collected.
3.11 Authority of Board of Audiology
The board shall:
- Do all things necessary to administer, coordinate, and enforce the provisions of this chapter, including but not limited to exercising the specific powers set forth in this section.
- Establish a budget and authorize all disbursements necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter within such budget.
- Promulgate rules defining the scope of practice of audiology, promulgate a code of ethics for audiologists, establish the qualification of applicants and provide for the issuance and renewal of licenses, regulation of audiology assistants, disclosure to consumers, disciplinary action and all such other matters as are necessary for the administration of this chapter.
- Establish licensure fees, evaluate the qualifications of applicants, and issue and renew licenses. Such fees shall be not less than the estimated expenditures under the budget established by the board.
- Prepare, administer, conduct, and supervise the qualifying examinations to test the knowledge and proficiency of audiologists and provide facilities necessary to carry out these examinations.
- Take disciplinary action in the manner provided in this chapter.
- Issue subpoenas, examine witnesses, administer oaths, conduct hearings and, at its discretion, investigate allegations of violations of this chapter, in the manner provided in this chapter.
- Maintain a list of persons currently licensed and registered under the provision of this chapter, the hours of continuing education submitted by each person and disciplinary actions taken against such person.
- Employ personnel as determined by its needs and budget.
- Request legal advice and assistance, as needed, from the Attorney General's Office.
- Enter into contracts as necessary to carry out its responsibilities under this chapter.
- Hire legal counsel and other professional personnel, as required.
- Submit reports of its operations and finances as requested by the Legislature and the Governor.
- Adopt an official seal by which it may authenticate its proceedings, copies of proceedings, records, acts of the board, and licenses.
- Communicate disciplinary actions to relevant state and federal authorities and to other state audiology licensing authorities as necessary.
- Promulgate rules establishing continuing education programs or courses of study required for renewal of a license under this chapter and the criteria for approval of continuing education programs or courses of study.
- Establish peer review committees for review purposes.
SEC. 4 LICENSE REQUIRED FOR PRACTICE
- No person may engage in the practice of audiology, or display a sign, or in any other way advertise or hold oneself out as a person who practices audiology, unless the person holds a current license issued by the board, an affiliated person holds such a license, or the person comes under the provisions of subsection (c) of this section.
- Such advertisement or holding out referred to in subsection (a) of this section includes, without limitation, use of the title "audiologist," "clinical audiologist," "certified hearing aid audiologist," "audioprosthologist," "licensed hearing aid audiologist," or any similar title, or use, without limitation, of any of the following words to represent oneself: "audiological," "audiology," "audiometrics," "audiometrist," "audiometry," "aural rehabilitationist," "balance center," "balance specialist" "hearing aid audiologist," "hearing and balance center," "hearing center," "hearing clinic," "hearing clinician," "hearing conservation," "hearing conservationist," "hearing therapy," "hearing therapist," "vestibular specialist," or any other title that expresses, employs, or implies similar terms or functions.
- A person that is not an individual that engaged in activities within the scope of subsection (a) of this section at least one year prior to the effective date of this chapter, without an affiliated person that holds a license, may continue to do so only so long as it employs or contracts for the services of at least one individual who is a licensee and only such licensee provides audiology services or supervises audiology assistants.
4.1 Application form and fees
Any applicant pursuant to this chapter shall apply on a form prescribed by the board and pay any applicable fees. The applicant shall also meet all other qualifications specified within this chapter for each respective profession for the license being sought.
4.2 Qualifications for audiologist applicant
To be newly eligible for licensure by the board as an audiologist, the applicant shall:
- Be an individual of good moral character.
- If applying before January 1, 2007, possess a master's or doctorate degree in audiology from an accredited program; or
- If applying on or after January 1, 2007, possess a doctor of audiology degree from an accredited program, or its equivalent as determined by the board, or meet the requirements of Section 4.7 or 4.8 of this Chapter.
- If the applicant is the holder only of a master's degree, complete the supervised clinical practicum experience from an accredited program or its cooperating programs.
- If the applicant is the holder only of a master's degree, complete a period of supervised graduate professional experience in audiology as approved by the board; and
- Pass an examination in audiology as determined by rules of the board.
4.3 Qualifying examinations for audiologists
- The board may conduct examinations for audiologist licensure, or adopt an examination conducted by a national examination agency. The examinations shall be in writing and consist of tests that require applicants to demonstrate at least the minimum knowledge of services and subject matter related to the practice of audiology that will enable the applicant to practice audiology effectively.
- As the volume of applications may make appropriate, the board shall administer the qualifying examinations throughout the year. The board shall provide public notice of each examination at least 60 days before it is held.
4.4 Issuance of license to successful applicant – Fee
The board shall issue a license to any applicant who meets the requirements of this chapter 4.5 Effect of statute
- Nothing in this chapter may be construed as preventing or restricting:
- A person licensed or registered by this state in another profession from practicing the profession for which licensed, registered, certified or credentialed.
- A person from providing instruction.
- A student from pursuing a program of study in audiology who is supervised by a licensee, provided such student is designated by a title clearly indicating student status.
- Audiometric tests administered pursuant to the United States Occupational Safety Act of 1970, or chapter 88, and in accordance with regulations issued thereunder, by employees of the state or by a person engaged in a business in which such tests are reasonably required, and the persons administering such tests do not perform any other functions for which a license is required under this Chapter.
- Qualified persons, as determined by the board, performing research, so long as the persons conducting such research do not perform any other functions for which a license is required under this Chapter.
- Any person possessing a valid certificate as a certified industrial audiometric technician or occupational hearing conservationist recognized by the board as meeting Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation Standards, if such service is performed in cooperation with either an audiologist licensed under this chapter or a licensed physician of this state.
- This statute does not do any of the following:
- Authorize an individual licensed under this statute to engage in any practice for which a license is required by any other licensing board.
- Authorize a speech-language pathologist or other practitioner licensed or registered in this state to provide audiology services as defined in sections 2.4 (a), (ii), and (iii) of this statute.
4.6 Provisional audiology license
Until such time as a doctor of audiology degree is required to qualify an applicant to hold an audiology license, as set forth in Section 4.2(b), the board shall issue a provisional audiology license to an applicant who:
- Except for the postgraduate professional experience, if required, meets the master's degree, practicum and examination requirements of this chapter and is not enrolled in a doctor of audiology program.
- Applies to the board on a form prescribed by the board, with a plan for the content of the postgraduate professional experience; and
- Pays to the board the application fee for a provisional license.
A person holding a provisional audiology license is authorized to practice audiology only while working under the supervision of a licensee under the provisions of this chapter. The term for provisional audiology licenses and the conditions for renewal shall be determined by the board by rule.
- Upon application and payment of the fee established by the board, the board shall grant a license to practice audiology to an applicant who holds a current license to practice audiology in another state or territory of the United States, or practices audiology under the authority and supervision of an agency of the federal government or another board, agency or department of this or another state or territory, if:
- The current license was originally issued on or before January 1, 2007, or
- The person practicing under such other authority and supervision possesses a masters degree in audiology awarded prior to January 1, 2007, by an accredited program and
- The board determines that the requirements for licensure in the other state or territory, or for practice under such other authority and supervision, are at least equivalent to the requirements of this chapter and
- The applicant meets such other requirements as the board may establish by rule. Such rules shall not include any requirement that an applicant for licensure under clauses
- (i) or (ii) of this subsection hold a doctor of audiology degree.
- The board may enter into reciprocal agreements with officials of other states or territories of the United States for licensing audiologists and grant licenses to applicants who are licensed in those states or territories according to the terms of the reciprocal agreements.
- The board may grant a license to an audiologist who practices audiology solely by means of telehealth communications from outside this state on an individual who is located in this state. The license shall only be granted to an individual who does all of the following:
- Submits an application for the license to the board on a form provided by the board.
- Pays the fee specified by applicable rules.
- Presents evidence that the individual holds an unrestricted valid license from another state or territory of the United States.
- Submits evidence satisfactory to the board that he or she has received a doctor of audiology degree from an accredited program, or has completed education or training that the board determines is substantially equivalent to the completion of that requirement.
- Meets such other requirements as the board establishes by rule.
- The board shall set forth rules regulating the practice of audiologists who practice by means of telehealth communications.
4.8 Foreign educated applicant
The board may waive the education, practicum, and professional experience requirements for applicants who received a professional education in another country, if the board is satisfied that equivalent education and practicum requirements have been met and the applicant passes the examination in audiology and meets such other requirements as the board establishes by rule.
4.9 Expiration of license – Renewal of license
A license or provisional license issued under this chapter expires annually at a time specified by rules promulgated by the board. To renew the license, a person licensed under this chapter shall:
- Pay a renewal license fee established by the board.
- Submit an application for renewal on a form prescribed by the board; and
- Meet the continuing education requirements established by the board.
Licensees are granted a grace period of thirty days beyond the expiration date of the license to renew retroactively as long as licensees are otherwise eligible and pay to the board the renewal fee. An applicant for renewal of a license shall not be required to hold a doctor of audiology degree.
4.10 Failure to renew – Reinstatement of license – New license
A licensee who fails to renew by the end of the thirty-day grace period may have the license reinstated if:
- The person submits an application for reinstatement to the board within three years after the expiration date of the license;
- The person meets the requirements established by the board as conditions for license renewal; and
- The person pays to the board a reinstatement fee that equals the renewal fee, in effect on the last regular renewal date immediately preceding the date of reinstatement, plus any late fee set by the board.
Any person who fails to renew a license within three years from the expiration date may not have the license reinstated. The person may apply for and obtain a new license on conditions of the requirements of this chapter and pay to the board the appropriate fees.
4.11 Renewal of suspended license – Reinstatement of revoked license
A suspended license is subject to expiration and may be renewed as provided in this chapter, but such renewal does not entitle the license holder, while the license remains suspended and until it is reinstated, to engage in the licensed activity or in any other conduct or activity in violation of the order by which the license was suspended.
A license revoked on disciplinary grounds is subject to expiration as provided in this chapter, but it may not be renewed. If such license is reinstated after its expiration, the license holder, as a condition of reinstatement, shall pay a reinstatement fee that shall equal the renewal fee, in effect on the last regular renewal date immediately preceding the date of reinstatement, plus any late fee set by the board.
4.12 Posting of certificate of license
The license required by this chapter shall be kept conspicuously posted in the license holder's office or place of business at all times.
4.13 Business address of license holder given to board – Board record required
Any person who holds an audiology license shall notify the board in writing of the street address of the place where the license holder engages or intends to engage in the practice of audiology. If the place of business is located in, or in connection with, a place of residence, the room to be used as an office shall be clearly designated and identified for the convenience of the public. The board shall keep an up-to-date record of these addresses. Notification to the Board is required within 10 days of the change of business address.
4.14 Notices to license holders by board – Mailing to business address
Any notice required to be given by the board to a person who holds an audiology license may be given by mailing it to the license holder at the address of the last place of business of which the license holder has notified the board pursuant to section 4.13. A post office box number may not be the address of a place of business.
4.15 Notices to license holders by board – Mailing to business address
Any notice required to be given by the board to a person who holds an audiology license may be given by mailing it to the license holder at the address of the last place of business of which the license holder has notified the board pursuant to section 4.13. A post office box number may not be the address of a place of business.
SEC. 5 AUDIOLOGY ASSISTANTS
An audiology assistant shall work under the supervision of a licensee. A licensee supervising an audiology assistant shall account for the performance and all services provided by the assistant, consistent with rules established by the board.
5.1 Restriction on audiology assistants
The assistant may not engage in any of the following activities:
- Interpreting obtained observations or data into diagnostic statements of clinical management strategies or procedures.
- Determining case selection.
- Transmitting clinical information including data or impressions relative to client performance, behavior, or progress either verbally or in writing to anyone other than the professional.
- Independently composing clinical reports except for progress notes to be held in the client's file.
- Referring a client to other agencies.
- Using any title either verbally or in writing other than that determined by the licensee.
SEC. 6 GROUNDS FOR DISCIPLINARY ACTION
Any conduct or attempted conduct which endangers or is likely to endanger the health, welfare, or safety of the public in the practice of audiology is grounds for disciplinary action and includes without limitation the following:
- Violating any provision of this chapter, any order given by the board, or rule adopted by the board, including, without limitation, rules setting forth specific grounds for disciplinary action in addition to those set forth in this section.
- Engaging in illegal or grossly negligent practice, or repeatedly negligent practice.
- Committing any act of unethical or unprofessional conduct.
- Making a material misstatement in an application for a license or permit or for renewal of a license.
- Providing or attempting to provide any license, by sale or otherwise, or obtaining or attempting to obtain a license, by purchase or otherwise, with fraudulent intent.
- Altering a license with fraudulent intent, or knowingly using or attempting to use a license that has been purchased, fraudulently obtained, counterfeited, or altered.
- Conviction of a felony under any circumstances, or of any offense the circumstances of which substantially relate to the practice of audiology.
- Violation of any federal or state statute, rule or regulation that relates to the practice of audiology.
- False, deceptive or misleading conduct, through advertising or otherwise.
- Aiding or abetting any conduct that is grounds for disciplinary action.
- Using the word "doctor," or any similar word, abbreviation, or symbol if the user does not hold a doctorate degree in audiology, or if a claimed degree was not obtained from an accredited program, or the equivalent as determined by the board.
- Providing professional services while mentally incompetent, under the influence of alcohol, using any narcotic or controlled dangerous substance or other drug that is in excess of therapeutic amounts or without valid medical indication or while having a serious infectious or contagious disease and failing to take proper precautions for the protection of patients or others.
- Providing services or promoting the sale of devices, appliances, or products to a person who cannot reasonably be expected to benefit from such services, devices, appliances, or products.
- Being disciplined by a licensing or disciplinary authority of any other state or country or convicted or disciplined by a court of any state or country for an act that would be grounds for disciplinary action under this section.
- Violation of any trade practice rule for the hearing aid industry as adopted by the United States Federal Trade Commission, or the United States Food and Drug Administration.
6.1 Disciplinary action
- Any person licensed under this chapter or applying for such a license, or any audiology assistant or person practicing audiology under a limited exception provided in Section 4.5, is subject to disciplinary action by the board. The board may impose any or all of the following disciplinary actions if such person is found by a preponderance of the evidence to have violated any of the provisions of Section 6:
- Refuse to issue or renew a license.
- Issue a letter of reprimand or concern.
- Require restitution of money or other consideration received.
- Impose probationary conditions.
- Suspend or revoke a license, or permission to practice.
- The board may, as a condition of removing a limitation on a license issued under this statute or of reinstating a license that has been suspended or revoked under this statute, require the licensee to obtain minimum results specified by the board on one or more physical, mental or professional competency examinations, if the board determines that obtaining the minimum results is related to correcting one or more of the bases upon which the limitation, suspension or revocation was imposed.
- The board may, as a condition of reinstating a license that has been suspended or revoked under this statute, require the license holder to pass an examination required for initial licensure under this statute.
- In addition to or instead of any other disciplinary action, the board may assess against a person who violates any of the provisions of Section 6 a civil penalty as otherwise provided by law for each violation committed.
6.2 Procedure for suspension, revocation, or denial of license, or imposition of other discipline
No disciplinary action may be taken by the board except in accordance with due process as established by law.
6.3 Enforcement of chapter by board
The board may enforce any provision of this chapter by injunction or by any other appropriate action. The board may apply to any court of competent jurisdiction for relief by injunction, without bond, to restrain any person from engaging in any act or practice that violates this chapter, including but not limited to the practice of audiology without a license. It is not necessary for the board to allege and prove that there is no adequate remedy at law in order to obtain the relief requested. Neither the board nor the individual members of the board are liable for applying for or wrongly obtaining such relief. A civil penalty may be enforced by the board by any procedure available to the holder of a money judgment.
6.4 Temporary suspension
The board may order the temporary suspension of a license granted under this chapter pending hearing for no more than 60 days, if the board determines that there is an imminent danger to life or health or the public safety. In such cases, the basis for the board's findings of imminent danger to life or health or the public safety shall be in writing and combined with the notice of intended disciplinary action. The board's hearing may commence no later than 30 days after the order temporarily suspending the license. If the board does not commence the hearing within 30 days, the suspension order shall be automatically vacated. A license holder shall be allowed additional time to prepare for or complete a hearing under this section only by agreeing to further suspension commensurate with the additional time extended.
6.5 Investigatory power of the board; Complaints
- The board may commence a formal or informal investigation, or an adjudicative hearing concerning allegations of misconduct and other matters within the scope of this chapter and shall do so upon written complaint of any person which charges a violation of this chapter. The type of procedure chosen shall be in the discretion of the board.
- The board may issue subpoenas under its seal on the signature of its chair, which shall be enforced by any court of competent jurisdiction within the State, may conduct investigations, appoint legal counsel and employ experts, investigators, and use other such investigatory procedures as it shall deem appropriate. The board shall serve any subpoena in accordance with the general procedures and fee schedules established by statute or rule of court.
Board investigations and any information obtained by the board pursuant to such investigations shall be exempt from public disclosure, unless such information subsequently becomes the subject of a public disciplinary hearing. The board shall disclose information obtained in an investigation to law enforcement or health licensing agencies in this state or any other jurisdiction or in accordance with specific statutory requirements or court orders. The board shall notify any license holder being investigated of such investigation and the nature of the misconduct within a reasonable time of the commencement of the investigation, taking into consideration the circumstances of the investigation.
- The board may administer oaths or affirmations, preserve testimony, and issue subpoenas for witnesses and for documents during any investigation or adjudicatory hearing.
- The board may at any time subpoena client or patient records from license holders or other persons, including but not limited to hospitals and other health care providers or facilities licensed by or certified in this state, with or without a client or patient release, and such records shall be produced without respect to any prohibitions against doing so under state or federal law. The board shall maintain the confidentiality of such records to the same extent required of the source from which they were subpoenaed.
- Any complaint shall be in writing and shall be treated as a petition for the commencement of a disciplinary hearing. The board shall investigate all complaints to the extent and in the manner warranted by the allegations. Any complaint which fails to state a cause of action may summarily be denied in whole or in part. Some or all of the allegations in the complaint may be consolidated with another complaint or with issues which the board decides to investigate or hear. If an investigation of a complaint results in an offer of settlement by the license holder, the board may settle the allegations against the license holder without the consent of a complainant, provided that material facts are not in dispute and the complainant is given an opportunity to comment upon the terms of the proposed settlement.
- The board may send a statement of the issues being investigated or heard to any license holder or other person who is a proper subject of inquiry and require the license holder or other person to provide a detailed and good faith written response to the allegations identified by the board. The license holder or other person shall also provide requested documents to the board without subpoena, to the same extent as provided in subsection (e). The license holder shall respond to such request within a time specified by the board, provided that such time shall not be less than 15 days, unless the board expressly determines that there is an imminent danger to life or health or the public safety requiring an earlier response.