Arizona Behavioral Health Board Appeals
It’s always disappointing when a behavioral health professional receives an unfavorable decision from the Arizona Behavioral Health Board (“ABHB“). However, behavioral health professionals in Arizona can benefit from understanding the process that goes along with Arizona Behavioral Health Board appeals and hearings after a case is heard by the Board. Suppose you face an unfavorable ABHB outcome due to an offered disciplinary action. In that case, you can always appeal the decision and request an administrative hearing before the Office of Administrative Hearings.
Filing a Department Appeal after a Board Meeting
The investigatory process and the appeal process work like this: Once the Board receives a complaint or self-report they will then initiate an investigation. The purpose of this investigation is to give the ABHB evidence to make a decision on whether or not a behavioral health professional should face disciplinary action. If the behavioral health professional receives an unfavorable formal disciplinary decision, it is at this point, they can then file an appeal and request a hearing with the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearing. An Administrative Law Judge will then oversee the appeal and the behavioral health professional may need to attend a hearing. However, sometimes the investigation is automatically sent to a hearing or an informal settlement conference can be held with the appeals department (if requested).
AZ Administrative Appeals and Hearing for an Appellant
Any behavioral health professional licensee may request a legal appeal of Arizona Behavioral Health Board Discipline to an administrative law judge with the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) which is located in Phoenix. In some instances, a case is sent automatically to OAH. The OAH hearing is conducted before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The administrative process is not as formal as a trial but is similar. Each party presents evidence using documents or sworn testimony. Each party also gives an opening and closing argument which should explain why the judge should rule one way or the other. A behavioral health professional’s attorney can cross-examine witnesses and testify on their behalf. After it is completed, the ALJ reviews the transcripts, and evidence and makes a recommendation. However, the Board makes the decision to either accept, reject or modify the ALJ’s decision. If an individual feels there has been a mistake they can request a rehearing from boards.
Criminal Reporting Requirements for a Behavioral Health Professional
A.R.S. 32-3208 requires that behavioral health professional licensees and applicants for a behavioral health professional license must report misdemeanor criminal charges involving conduct that may affect patient safety or a felony to the Arizona Board within 10 working days after the charge is filed. A working day would be considered Monday through Friday. Failure to report a reportable criminal charge within 10 business days is a violation of the Arizona Medical Practice Act.
What Current and Past Crimes Must Be Reported?
Arizona Behavioral Health Board Criminal Reporting requirements hold that a felony must be reported within 10 days of being charged. The following types of a misdemeanor or other criminal histories are crimes that have been determined by the Board to be reportable pursuant to A.RS § 32-3208:
- Assault and Related Offenses
- Theft and Related Offenses
- Fraud, Deceit, and Related Offenses
- Abuse, Neglect, Exploitation of a Child or Vulnerable Adult, and Related Offenses
- Sexual and Related Offenses
- Drug and/or Alcohol Related Offenses
- Arson and Related Offenses
- Animal Abuse, Cruelty and Related Offenses
Failure to report a reportable criminal charge within 10 business days is a violation of Arizona law and could result in disciplinary action which could result in Arizona Behavioral Health Board Probation.
DUI Criminal History for Mental Health Providers
Behavioral health professionals, who contact our office frequently ask our attorneys if state law allows a behavioral health professional with a DUI crime or conviction to get a license with the Arizona State Behavioral Health Board? The short answer is yes. An Arizona Behavioral Health Professional DUI will not necessarily prevent a behavioral health professional from obtaining a license or a career in the health field. However, the Board (which handles all complaints) has a public policy (updated as of September 2020) on their website which covers the details of what circumstances behavioral health professionals with a case that resulted in a felony DUI criminal conviction can get a license.
Behavioral Health Services License Criminal Consequences
This specific policy does not apply to criminal conduct involving misdemeanor DUI charges or convictions. Once a behavioral health professional applies for a license to practice to the Arizona Behavioral Health Board, they need to disclose any felony DUI criminal court convictions (from previous years) on their application. A behavioral health professional must report a felony DUI no matter how much time or how many years have passed since the time of the conviction or case. The AZ Board may also ask about past DUI misdemeanor criminal charges or cases that resulted in a conviction. This is done to ensure a behavioral health professional can perform safe patient care and can have safe direct contact with patients or other providers.
Disclosing a Criminal Record for an Arizona Applicant
If a behavioral health professional license applicant is not required to disclose a legal misdemeanor DUI, the AZ Board can still initiate an investigation based upon the results of a health care fingerprint background check. The Board will then contact the behavioral health professional and initiate an investigation in their practice utilizing the law of the Arizona Medical Practice Act (current as of October 2020). This license investigation determines whether the behavioral health professional is a danger to the public, has any medical or mental health problems, and whether the behavioral health professional has rehabilitated in the time since the criminal misdemeanor DUI or DUI charges occurred. Simply, the Board wants to know whether the applicant can provide safe nursing care with a past criminal case involving alcohol or substance abuse.
The attorneys at Chelle Law assist behavioral health professionals with interpreting Board policy (which is generally on the Board website). Our attorneys help the healthcare workers with their application to show the Board the behavioral health professional isn’t a danger to the health, safety, and welfare of the public and is able to provide safe patient care.
Lawyer for a Behavioral Health Examiners Provider
If you’re interested in learning more about our Arizona Behavioral Health Board Attorney services and how to protect your license, set up a consultation with Chelle Law today.