Arizona Physical Therapy Board Criminal Reporting
A.R.S. 32-3208 requires that physical therapist licensees and applicants for a physical therapist license must report misdemeanor criminal charges involving conduct that may affect patient safety or a felony to the Arizona Physical Therapy 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 Practice Act and could result in Arizona Physical Therapy Board Probation.
What Current and Past Crimes Must Be Reported?
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 Practice Act and could result in disciplinary action which could result in Arizona Physical Therapy Board Probation.
DUI Criminal History
Physical therapists who contact our office frequently ask our attorney’s if state law allows a physical therapist professional with a DUI crime or conviction to get a license with the Arizona Physical Therapy Board? The short answer is yes. An Arizona Physical Therapist DUI will not necessarily prevent a physical therapist 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 physical therapist professionals with a case that resulted in a felony DUI criminal conviction can get a license.
Disclosing a Criminal Record for an Applicant
If a physical therapist 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 professional and initiate an investigation in their practice utilizing the law of the Arizona Practice Act (current as of October 2020). This license investigation determines whether the physical therapist is a danger to the public, has any medical or mental health problems and whether the physical therapist 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.
Criminal Record and Convictions
One question our attorneys are frequently asked is whether state law allows a physical therapist professional with a felony criminal background to get a license with the Arizona Physical Therapy Board? The short answer is, yes. An Arizona Felony for physical therapists will not necessarily prevent a physical therapist from obtaining a license or a career in the medical field. However, the Board has a public policy on their website which covers the details of under what circumstances a physical therapist with a case that resulted in a criminal sentence can get a license.
Criminal Charges for Physical Therapists with the Arizona Board
When a professional applies to the Arizona Physical Therapy Board, they must disclose a felony criminal court sentence (and other similar offenses) on their application. A physical therapist must self report a felony no matter how much time or how many years have passed since the conviction. After self-reporting occurs, the Board contacts the physical therapist and initiates an investigation utilizing the law of the AZ Practice Act. The investigation helps to determine whether the professional is a danger to the public, has any medical or mental health problems and whether the physical therapist has rehabilitated in the time since the criminal incident occurred. Simply put, the Board wants to know whether the physical therapist applicant can provide safe nursing care.
Arizona Physical Therapy Board Unprofessional Conduct
- REVOCATION: If the Board revokes a physical therapist’s license the physical therapist will be unable to practice or get licensed again for a period of time. After the license revocation the physical therapist will need to reapply for their license. If the physical therapist 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 physical therapist 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 physical therapist can reapply.
- SUSPENSION: A suspension stops the physical therapist 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 physical therapist do certain things (drug testing, work supervision, counseling, continuing education). Alternatively, they may need to refrain from doing things (unsupervised care like home health, working under the supervision, using alcohol, etc.) A request for a removal of probation will be needed.
- CIVIL PENALTY: Similar to a Decree of Censure, but the physical therapist can be fined. The Civil Penalty is listed as formal discipline.
AZ Physical Therapy Board Complaint
Who can file an Arizona Physical Therapy Board Complaint against a physical therapist? Patients, health care facilities, other professionals, among others. When the Arizona Physical Therapy Board 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 physical therapist receives notice and the board assigns an investigator to the case. Please note, having an attorney during this step can be crucial for physical therapists as they must submit a response, interview with the investigator while also possibly appearing at an Arizona Physical Therapy Board.
Responding to Practice Complaints and Investigations
After receiving an Arizona Physical Therapy Board Complaint or self-report, a physical therapist receives a notice from the Board requesting additional information as well as a response to allegations found in the complaint. From here, the Physical Therapy Board assigns an investigator to the complaint and they begin to collect evidence. The documents and evidence collected includes:
- Patient medical records
- Employment files from the physical therapist’s employer and business
- Criminal records
- Interviews of people associated with the Board Complaint (These interviewees can include the patient, medical director, colleagues, etc.)
Physical Therapy Board Probation
When a physical therapist faces Arizona Physical Therapy Board Probation the probation is offered through a Consent Agreement. The Consent Agreement requires the physical therapist do certain things (drug testing, work supervision, counseling, continuing education). Or alternatively, refrain from doing things (using alcohol, prescribing schedule drugs, seeing certain patients, etc.). The Arizona Physical Therapy Board can place physical therapists on probation through:
- Stipulated Rehabilitation Agreement
- Interim Practice Restriction
- Decree of Censure with Probation
- Letter of Reprimand with Probation
- Practice Limitation
Physical therapists who hold a license in Arizona can face disciplinary actions by the Arizona Physical Therapy Board for many different reasons. If the Physical Therapy Board determines formal licensing 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 Practice Act and Arizona law. Thus, at an Arizona Physical Therapy Board Meeting, the Board will vote to determine the outcome of each investigation, thus, a defense attorney may be needed. The Board can vote on a non-disciplinary outcome or vote to offer the physical therapist formal discipline.
Arizona Board Attorney
If you’re interested in learning more about our Arizona Physical Therapy Board Attorney services and how to protect your license, set up a consultation with Chelle Law today.