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Speech Therapists, Speech-Language Pathologists Board License Defense Lawyers

March 21, 2024 Uncategorized

Navigating Speech Therapy License Defense as a Professional

As a speech therapist, your top priority is providing quality care to patients with communication disorders. However, even the most dedicated professionals can find themselves facing disciplinary actions or needing license defense at some point in their career. When your livelihood is on the line, it’s crucial to understand the laws impacting your practice and know your rights during board investigations. This article offers guidance to help speech therapists protect their license when issues arise.

Licensing Requirements and Common Violations

In order to practice legally in California, speech-language pathologists must obtain licensure from the Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensers Board (SLPAHADB). Typical licensing requirements include earning a master’s degree, completing a clinical fellowship, and passing exams. While this licensing aims to ensure proper qualifications and public protection, it also gives the board authority to discipline licensees for legal and regulatory violations.

Some common issues that prompt board investigations of speech therapists’ conduct include practicing without a valid license, negligence, criminal convictions, supervision failures, scope of practice breaches, false statements on applications, patient right infringements, poor recordkeeping, substance abuse, and out-of-state discipline. If found guilty of violations, consequences can range from probation or continuing education to the severe outcomes of license suspension or revocation.

Navigating the Disciplinary Process

Disciplinary cases typically start when the licensing board receives a complaint, which investigators then review through interviews and record analysis. If they find evidence of violations, the board may take no action on minor issues or negotiate resolutions for more serious ones. However, they can also file formal charges and hold hearings to prosecute licensees.

At hearings, prosecutors aim to prove allegations through testimony and documentation. Licensees can dispute charges, present defense evidence, and have legal counsel. Afterwards, judges issue proposed decisions which the board reviews and acts upon. Any disciplinary measures become publicly accessible on the board’s website.

Working with Experienced Defense Counsel

Since professional discipline can profoundly impact careers, retaining an experienced attorney is advisable for licensees facing investigations or charges. Knowledgeable lawyers comprehend complex practice laws and can guide accused speech therapists through proceedings while building vigorous defenses. Possible strategies may include:

  • Seeking dismissal of unfounded complaints
  • Negotiating favorable settlements when suitable
  • Disputing allegations and refuting charges
  • Citing procedural errors by the board
  • Presenting mitigating factors to reduce penalties
  • Appealing unfavorable rulings

In addition to handling cases, lawyers can advise speech therapists on meeting legal standards in daily practice, helping avoid misunderstandings that lead to violations. With experienced counsel, speech professionals have the best opportunity to retain their license.

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
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Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
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Taïko Beauty
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
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I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

Recent Licensing Changes and Their Ramifications

California’s recent passage of AB 2686 brings licensing changes starting in 2027 – candidates can qualify with bachelor’s degrees rather than master’s if they meet other requirements. Supporters believe this could help address speech therapist shortages, but opponents argue it may lower educational standards and care quality. The impact on discipline rates and defense needs remains to be seen.

Malpractice Liability Risks

In addition to board actions, speech therapists also face malpractice liability if poor care harms patients. Negligence lawsuits can arise from misdiagnosis, treatment delays, therapy injuries, privacy breaches, failure to warn families, and more. Robust professional liability coverage is crucial to cover defense costs and damages in such cases.

Proactive Prevention of Allegations

While defense is critical when issues occur, prevention is the best initial strategy. Steps speech therapists can take to minimize risks include:

  • Knowing and complying with all applicable laws, rules, and ethics
  • Meeting continuing education requirements
  • Using sound documentation, billing, and business practices
  • Carrying adequate liability insurance
  • Seeking legal counsel when unsure about regulations
  • Maintaining open communication with patients and families

By making diligent efforts to avoid violations, therapists can reduce chances of facing license defense needs. However, even conscientious professionals might encounter allegations. When this happens, experienced counsel provides the best ally in protecting your reputation and livelihood.

Helping Speech Therapists Keep Their Licenses

Speech therapists, also called speech-language pathologists, have an important job. They help people with communication problems. They test patients to see what is wrong. Then they give therapy to fix the problems. But sometimes speech therapists can get in trouble at work. They might do something wrong by accident. Or someone might think they did something bad. Then they could lose their license. This means they can’t be a speech therapist anymore. So lawyers are there to help them. The lawyers know the rules that speech therapists need to follow. They help them keep their licenses if they get accused of doing something wrong.

Laws For Speech Therapists

In California, speech therapists need a license to work. They have to get it from the Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Board[1]. To get a license, they need to finish a master’s degree. They also have to do clinical training and pass some big tests. The licenses make sure speech therapists know what they are doing. They want patients to get good care. But the board can also take away licenses if therapists break rules. Some common ways therapists get in trouble are[2]:

  • Working without an up-to-date license
  • Doing things negligently or unsafely
  • Lying on their license application
  • Getting convicted of a crime related to their job
  • Not supervising assistants correctly
  • Doing things they shouldn’t be doing as a speech therapist
  • Not telling patients the right fees or what services they will get
  • Hurting patients or abandoning them
  • Not keeping good patient records
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol at work
  • Getting in trouble with licenses in other states

If speech therapists break these rules, they can get punished. For small problems they may just need to take some classes. But for big violations they can lose their license completely. This really hurts their career.

How Investigations And Hearings Work

It starts when someone complains to the licensing board about a speech therapist. The investigators will look into it. They interview people and check records. If they find proof of rule-breaking, a few things can happen. For little issues, they might just give a warning. For medium issues, they may have the therapist agree to do things like pay a fine or take more training. But if it’s serious, they can file official charges against the therapist[3]. Then there will be a hearing.

At the hearing, lawyers try to prove the charges with testimony and evidence. The speech therapist can say they didn’t do it. They can show evidence on their side too. And they can have a lawyer help them. After the hearing, a judge decides if they did anything wrong. The board reviews it and decides on a punishment. Then it becomes public on the board’s website.

How Defense Lawyers Can Help

Since their career is at risk, speech therapists should get a lawyer to help them. Good lawyers know all the complicated rules for speech therapists. They can guide the therapist and defend them. Here are some things they do[2]:

  • Ask for charges to be dropped if there’s not enough proof
  • Try to negotiate a deal or settlement if that makes sense
  • Fight the charges and show evidence they didn’t happen
  • Point out if the board didn’t follow right procedures
  • Explain special circumstances to get lighter punishments
  • Appeal the decision if the ruling is unfair

Lawyers can also help speech therapists avoid trouble in the first place. They teach them the right way to handle paperwork, billing, records, and other things. This stops problems before they even start. Good lawyers really improve a speech therapist’s chance to keep their license.

A New Law Coming Soon

California passed a new law called AB 2686[4] that will change licensing for speech therapists. Starting in 2027, people can get a license without a master’s degree. They just need a bachelor’s degree plus the right classes and experience. Supporters think this will get more speech therapists licensed. But critics worry it may lower standards of care. It’s not clear yet if it will affect investigations and hearings.

Getting Sued For Malpractice

Speech therapists can also get sued for malpractice. This means a patient says the therapist hurt them by not doing their job right. Some examples are[2]:

  • Misdiagnosing someone’s communication problem
  • Waiting too long to test or treat them
  • Injuring them with unsafe therapy techniques
  • Breaking privacy rules about patient records
  • Not telling families about risks

So speech therapists need good malpractice insurance in case they get sued. This pays for lawyers and any damages. Therapists should talk to insurance agents to get the right policy.

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