Arizona Board of Pharmacy Appeals | License Defense for the Arizona Pharmacy Board
It’s always disappointing when a pharmacist receives an unfavorable decision from the Arizona Board of Pharmacy (“ABP“). However, pharmacists in Arizona can benefit from understanding the process that goes along with Arizona Board of Pharmacy appeals and hearings after a case is heard by the Board. If you are facing an unfavorable ABP outcome due to an offered disciplinary action, you can always appeal the decision and request an administrative hearing before the Office of Administrative Hearings.
Filing an Appeal after a Board of Pharmacy 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 into the Arizona pharmacy license. The purpose of this investigation is to give the ABP evidence to make a decision on whether or not a pharmacist should face disciplinary action. If the pharmacist 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 pharmacist may need to attend a hearing. However, sometimes the investigation is automatically sent to hearing or an informal settlement conference can be held (if requested).
Arizona Administrative Appeal and Hearing
Any pharmacist licensee may request a legal appeal of Arizona Board of Pharmacy 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 Arizona’s 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 pharmacist’s attorney can cross examine witnesses and testify on his or her behalf. After it is completed, the ALJ reviews the transcripts, evidence and makes a recommendation. However, the Board makes the decision to either accept, reject or modify the ALJ’s decision. If an individuals feels there has been a mistake they can request a rehearing by appealing the decision to the appeals department.
Criminal Reporting Requirements for a Pharmacist
A.R.S. 32-3208 requires that pharmacist licensees and applicants for a pharmacist license must report misdemeanor criminal charges involving conduct that may affect patient safety or a felony to the Arizona Board of Pharmacy 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 statutes.
What Current and Past Crimes Must Be Reported?
Arizona Board of Pharmacy Criminal Reporting requirements hold that a felony must be reported within 10 days of being charged. The following types of 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 the Arizona Medical Practice Act and could result in disciplinary action which could result in Arizona Board of Pharmacy’s Probation.
DUI Criminal History
Pharmacists who contact our office frequently ask our attorney’s if state law allows a pharmacist with a DUI crime or conviction to get a license with the Arizona State Pharmacy Board? The short answer is yes. An Arizona Pharmacist DUI will not necessarily prevent a pharmacist from obtaining a license or a career in the healthcare 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 a pharmacist and pharmacy technician trainee with a case that resulted in a felony DUI criminal conviction can get a license.
Pharmacy License Criminal Consequences
This specific policy does not apply to criminal conduct involving misdemeanor DUI charges or convictions. Once a pharmacy professional applies for a license to practice to the Arizona Board of Pharmacy, they need to disclose any felony DUI criminal court convictions (from previous years) on their application. A pharmacist 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 pharmacist can perform safe patient care and can have safe direct contact with patients or other providers.
Disclosing a Criminal Record for a Professional Applicant
If a pharmacist license applicant is not required to disclose a legal misdemeanor DUI, the Board can still initiate an investigation based upon the results of a healthcare fingerprint background check. The Board will then contact the 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 pharmacist is a danger to the public, has any medical or mental health problems and whether the pharmacist 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.
Arizona Board of Pharmacy Disciplinary Actions | Defense for Pharmacists with Arizona Pharmacy Board Disciplinary Actions
Arizona Board of Pharmacy disciplinary actions are given to pharmacists with a license or certification in Arizona. If the Board determines formal disciplinary action is necessary it will happen after the completion of an investigation. It’s the job of the Board to review any complaint alleging a violation of the Arizona laws and regulations. Chelle Law’s Arizona Board of Pharmacy Attorneys have represented over 1,000 health care professionals before Arizona licensing boards. At Chelle Law, our attorney’s have the experience to help pharmacists with all Arizona Board of Pharmacy matters.
Thus, at a Board Meeting, the Board will vote to determine the outcome of each investigation and whether to issue disciplinary measures. The Board can vote on a non-disciplinary outcome or vote to offer the pharmacist formal discipline. Disciplinary actions can include:
- Letter of concern
- Decree of censure
- Non-disciplinary order for continuing education
State Board of Pharmacy Non Disciplinary Actions
- CASE DISMISSAL: The Board may dismiss a complaint if they determine the information indicates there was not a violation of the rules of the Arizona Revised Statutes. This outcome is not available to the public.
- LETTER OF CONCERN: A letter from the Board expressing concern that the pharmacist’s conduct was not ideal; however, the conduct does not necessarily violate the law or Arizona State Board policy and no further contact is needed. This will not effect future licensure or if the licensee wishes to further their education. This is not shown on license verification.
- NON-DISCIPLINARY ORDER FOR CONTINUING EDUCATION: An order that dictates the pharmacist must complete a number of hours of continuing education for specific topics.
Arizona Board of Pharmacy Unprofessional Conduct
- REVOCATION: If the Board revokes a pharmacist’s license the pharmacist will be unable to practice or get licensed again for a minimum of five years. After the five year period license revocation the pharmacist will need to reapply for their license. If the pharmacist reapplies for licensure they must demonstrate the grounds for revocation (substance abuse, mental health problems, criminal convictions) has been rectified through an applicable program. This is a public document.
- VOLUNTARY SURRENDER: The pharmacist voluntarily gives up their license. The benefit of this voluntary consent is that the Board is usually willing to reduce the amount of time until a pharmacist can reapply. This is usually between two to three years.
- SUSPENSION: A suspension stops the pharmacist from practicing. It prohibits any patient contact or services for a period of time until the Board lifts the suspension.
- PROBATION: The Board offers probation through a consent agreement. The consent agreement requires the pharmacist do certain things (drug testing, work supervision, counseling, continuing education). Alternatively, they may need to refrain from doing things (unsupervised Medical like home health, working under the Medical licensure compact, using alcohol, etc.) A request for a removal of probation will be needed.
- DECREE OF CENSURE: A letter of reprimand is the lowest level of formal discipline against a license or certificate. There are no probationary requirements. However, the action is on the website for the public to inspect. this is considered a penalty.
Arizona Board of Pharmacy Complaint Lawyer | Our attorney can assist with a Arizona Pharmacy Board Complaint
Who can file a complaint against a pharmacist? Patients, health care facilities, other professionals, among others. When the Arizona Board of Pharmacy receives a complaint, the Board initiates an investigation into the complaint (if the Board has jurisdiction and the Complaint isn’t dismissed). After this happens, the pharmacist receives notice and the board assigns an investigator to the case. Please note, having an attorney during this step can be crucial for pharmacists as they must submit a response, interview with the investigator while also possibly appearing at an Arizona Board of Pharmacy. Chelle Law offers professional license defense and review for state licensed pharmacy professionals.
Provider Grievance Lawyer
The attorney’s at Chelle Law assist nurses with interpreting Board policy (which is generally on the Board website). Our attorney’s help the healthcare workers and nurses with their application to show the Board the professional isn’t a danger to the health, safety and welfare of the public and is able to provide safe patient care.
If you’re interested in learning more about our Arizona Board of Pharmacy Attorney services and how to protect your license, set up a consultation with Chelle Law today.