32-1664. Investigation; hearing; notice
A. In connection with an investigation, the board or its duly authorized agents or employees may obtain any documents, reports, records, papers, books and materials, including hospital records, medical staff records and medical staff review committee records, or any other physical evidence that indicates that a person or regulated party may have violated this chapter or a rule adopted pursuant to this chapter:
1. By entering the premises, at any reasonable time, and inspecting and copying materials in the possession of a regulated party that relate to nursing competence, unprofessional conduct or mental or physical ability of a licensee to safely practice nursing.
2. By issuing a subpoena under the board's seal to require the attendance and testimony of witnesses or to demand the production for examination or copying of documents or any other physical evidence. Within five days after a person is served with a subpoena, that person may petition the board to revoke, limit or modify the subpoena. The board shall do so if in its opinion the evidence required does not relate to unlawful practices covered by this chapter, is not relevant to the charge that is the subject matter of the hearing or investigation or does not describe with sufficient particularity the physical evidence whose production is required.
3. By submitting a written request for the information.
4. In the case of an applicant's or a regulated party's personal medical records, as defined in section 12-2291, by any means permitted by this section if the board either:
(a) Obtains from the applicant or regulated party, or the health care decision maker of the applicant or regulated party, a written authorization that satisfies the requirements of title 12, chapter 13, article 7.1.
(b) Reasonably believes that the records relate to information already in the board's possession regarding the competence, unprofessional conduct or mental or physical ability of the applicant or regulated party as it pertains to safe practice. If the board adopts a substantive policy statement pursuant to section 41-1091, it may authorize the executive director, or a designee in the absence of the executive director, to make the determination of reasonable belief.
B. A regulated party and a health care institution as defined in section 36-401 shall, and any other person may, report to the board any information the licensee, certificate holder, health care institution or individual may have that appears to show that a regulated party or applicant is, was or may be a threat to the public health or safety.
C. The board retains jurisdiction to proceed with an investigation or a disciplinary proceeding against a regulated party whose license or certificate expired not more than five years before the board initiates the investigation.
D. Any regulated party, health care institution or other person that reports or provides information to the board in good faith is not subject to civil liability. If requested the board shall not disclose the name of the reporter unless the information is essential to proceedings conducted pursuant to this section.
E. Any regulated party or person who is subject to an investigation may obtain representation by counsel.
F. On determination of reasonable cause, the board, or if delegated by the board the executive director, may require a licensee, certificate holder or applicant to undergo at the expense of the licensee, certificate holder or applicant any combination of mental, physical or psychological examinations, assessments or skills evaluations necessary to determine the person's competence or ability to practice safely. These examinations may include bodily fluid testing and other examinations known to detect the presence of alcohol or drugs. If the executive director orders the licensee, applicant or certificate holder to undertake an examination, assessment or evaluation pursuant to this subsection, and the licensee, certificate holder or applicant fails to affirm to the board in writing within fifteen days after receipt of the notice of the order that the licensee, certificate holder or applicant intends to comply with the order, the executive director shall refer the matter to the board to permit the board to determine whether to issue an order pursuant to this subsection. At each regular meeting of the board the executive director shall report to the board data concerning orders issued by the executive director pursuant to this subsection since the last regular meeting of the board and any other data requested by the board.
G. The board shall provide the investigative report if requested pursuant to section 32-3206.
H. If after completing its investigation the board finds that the information provided pursuant to this section is not of sufficient seriousness to merit disciplinary action against the regulated party or applicant, it may take either of the following actions:
1. Dismiss if in the opinion of the board the information is without merit.
2. File a letter of concern if in the opinion of the board there is insufficient evidence to support disciplinary action against the regulated party or applicant but sufficient evidence for the board to notify the regulated party or applicant of its concern.
I. Except as provided pursuant to section 32-1663, subsection F and subsection J of this section, if the investigation in the opinion of the board reveals reasonable grounds to support the charge, the regulated party is entitled to an administrative hearing pursuant to title 41, chapter 6, article 10. If notice of the hearing is served by certified mail, service is complete on the date the notice is placed in the mail.
J. A regulated party shall respond in writing to the board within thirty days after notice of the hearing is served as prescribed in subsection I of this section. The board may consider a regulated party's failure to respond within this time as an admission by default to the allegations stated in the complaint. The board may then take disciplinary actions allowed by this chapter without conducting a hearing.
K. An administrative law judge or a panel of board members may conduct hearings pursuant to this section.
L. In any matters pending before it, the board may issue subpoenas under its seal to compel the attendance of witnesses.
M. Patient records, including clinical records, medical reports, laboratory statements and reports, any file, film, other report or oral statement relating to diagnostic findings or treatment of patients, any information from which a patient or a patient's family might be identified or information received and records kept by the board as a result of the investigation procedure outlined in this chapter are not available to the public and are not subject to discovery in civil or criminal proceedings.
N. Hospital records, medical staff records, medical staff review committee records, testimony concerning these records and proceedings related to the creation of these records shall not be available to the public. They shall be kept confidential by the board and shall be subject to the same provisions concerning discovery and use in legal actions as are the original records in the possession and control of hospitals, their medical staffs and their medical staff review committees. The board shall use these records and testimony during the course of investigations and proceedings pursuant to this chapter.
O. If the regulated party is found to have committed an act of unprofessional conduct or to have violated this chapter or a rule adopted pursuant to this chapter, the board may take disciplinary action.
P. The board may subsequently issue a denied license or certificate and may reissue a revoked or voluntarily surrendered license or certificate.
Q. On application by the board to any superior court judge, a person who without just cause fails to comply with a subpoena issued pursuant to this section may be ordered by the judge to comply with the subpoena and punished by the court for failing to comply. Subpoenas shall be served by regular or certified mail or in the manner required by the Arizona rules of civil procedure.
R. The board may share investigative information that is confidential under subsections M and N of this section with other state, federal and international health care agencies and with state, federal and international law enforcement authorities if the recipient is subject to confidentiality requirements similar to those established by this section. A disclosure made by the board pursuant to this subsection is not a waiver of the confidentiality requirements established by this section.