32-1744. Board investigations; duty to report violations; hearing; decision of board; informal settlement conference
A. The board on its own motion shall investigate any evidence that appears to show that a licensee may be guilty of a violation of section 32-1743. Any person may report to the board information the person may have that appears to show that a licensee may be guilty of unprofessional conduct or of practice without regard for the safety and welfare of the public. A person who reports or provides information to the board in good faith is not subject to civil damages as a result. The name of the person reporting information pursuant to this subsection is subject to the disclosure requirements prescribed in section 41-1010.
B. The board or its designee shall register and investigate all complaints. On receipt of a complaint, the board or its designee shall send the licensee a copy of the complaint for a response. The board shall review the complaint and response and may dismiss the complaint, investigate it further or bring its own complaint against the licensee. The board may resolve a disciplinary matter informally or after a formal hearing. The board or its designee shall inform the complainant of the findings of the investigation and the resolution of the complaint.
C. The board, its designee or the executive director shall require a licensee to provide a written response to a complaint within twenty days after the licensee receives the notification of complaint.
D. Except as provided in subsection F of this section, if in the opinion of the board it appears that information provided under subsection A of this section may be accurate and a violation of this chapter, the board shall request an informal interview with the licensee before proceeding to a formal hearing. If the licensee refuses an invitation for an informal interview, or if the licensee accepts the invitation and if the results of the interview indicate suspension or revocation of license may be in order, a complaint shall be issued and a formal hearing held pursuant to title 41, chapter 6, article 10. If at the informal interview the board finds the information provided under subsection A of this section is accurate but not of sufficient seriousness to merit suspension exceeding thirty days or revocation of the license, it may take any or all of the following actions:
1. Issue a decree of censure or written reprimand.
2. Fix a period and terms of probation best adapted to protect the public health and safety and rehabilitate the licensee. Probation may include a requirement for a refund of fees and charges to professional services clients resulting from services performed in violation of this chapter or rules adopted pursuant to this chapter, restriction of a license to practice or temporary suspension not to exceed thirty days. Failure to comply with probation is cause for filing a complaint and holding a formal hearing pursuant to title 41, chapter 6, article 10.
3. Impose a civil penalty of not more than five thousand dollars for each violation of this chapter.
4. Issue a nondisciplinary order requiring the licensee to complete a prescribed number of hours of continuing education in an area or areas prescribed by the board to provide the licensee with the necessary understanding of current developments, skills, procedures or treatment.
E. If the board determines that a reasonable basis exists to believe that a violation of this chapter or rules adopted pursuant to this chapter has occurred and the violation is not sufficiently serious to warrant disciplinary action, it may send a letter of concern to the licensee. The letter of concern shall advise the licensee of the possible violation and the board's decision not to initiate proceedings. If violations occur after the board sends a letter of concern, the board may initiate proceedings on all violations, including the violation that was the subject of the letter of concern.
F. If in the opinion of the board it appears that information provided under subsection A of this section may be accurate, the board may issue a complaint and hold a formal hearing pursuant to title 41, chapter 6, article 10 without first holding an informal interview if the probable violation involves one or more of the following:
1. Gross negligence.
2. Fraud, forgery, unsworn falsification, false swearing or perjury.
3. Three or more repeated offenses.
4. Conviction of a felony.
5. Conviction of an offense involving moral turpitude.
7. Failing to comply with a board order or consent agreement.
8. Wilfully and without legal justification failing to furnish in a timely manner information necessary for the board to conduct an investigation under this chapter that has been requested or subpoenaed by the board.
G. The board shall serve on the licensee a notice fully setting forth the conduct or inability concerned and returnable at a hearing to be held before the board or an administrative law judge in not less than thirty days, stating the time and place of the hearing. A licensee who has been notified of a complaint pursuant to this subsection must file with the board a written response not more than twenty days after service of the complaint and notice of hearing. If the licensee fails to answer in writing, it is deemed an admission of the act or acts charged in the complaint and notice of hearing. The board may then take disciplinary action pursuant to this chapter without a hearing.
H. At the expense of the licensee, the board may require a medical, mental or physical examination and make an investigation, including, if necessary, the issuance of subpoenas, the appointment of advisory committees, the employment of expert witnesses or otherwise, as may be required fully to inform itself with respect to the complaint.
I. A person may file a motion with the board for an expedited hearing pursuant to section 41-1092.05.
J. If the licensee wishes to be present at the hearing in person or by representation, or both, the licensee shall file with the board an answer to the charges in the complaint. The answer shall be in writing, verified under oath and filed within twenty days after service of the summons and complaint.
K. At the hearing held in compliance with subsection G of this section, a licensee may be present in person together with any counsel and witnesses the licensee chooses.
L. The board shall issue subpoenas for witnesses it may need and, at the respondent's expense, for witnesses the respondent may request. All provisions of law compelling a person under subpoena to testify are applicable to a hearing held pursuant to this section.
M. The board shall serve every notice or decision under this article by any method reasonably calculated to effect actual notice on the board and every other party to the action to the party's last address of record with the board. Each party shall inform the board of any change of address within five days after the change.
N. A licensee who, after a hearing, is found to be guilty by the board of a violation of this chapter is subject to censure, probation or civil penalty as provided in subsection D of this section, suspension of license or revocation of license, or any combination of these, and for the period of time or permanently and under the conditions the board deems appropriate for the protection of the public health and safety and just in the circumstances. The board may charge the costs of formal hearings to the licensee who is in violation of this chapter.
O. The board shall issue a written decision within twenty days after the hearing is concluded. The written decision shall contain a concise explanation of the reasons supporting the decision. The board shall serve a copy of the decision on the licensee. On the licensee's request, the board shall also transmit to the licensee the record of the hearing.
P. Except as provided in this subsection, all materials, documents and evidence associated with a pending or resolved complaint or investigation are confidential and are not public records. The following materials, documents and evidence are not confidential and are public records if they are related to resolved complaints and comply with subsection A of this section:
1. The complaint.
2. The response and any rebuttal statements submitted by the licensee.
3. Written or recorded board discussions of the complaint.
4. Written reports of an investigation of a complaint.
5. Disposition of the complaint, including any written comments of the board.
Q. This section or any other law making communications between a licensee and the licensee's patient a privileged communication does not apply to investigations or proceedings conducted pursuant to this chapter. The board and its employees, agents and representatives shall keep in confidence the names of any patients whose records are reviewed during the course of investigations and proceedings pursuant to this chapter.
R. Any action of the board shall be included in the minutes of the meeting at which the action is taken, including any determination by the board not to proceed under this section. The person reporting information to the board shall receive a copy of any final decision.
S. Pursuant to sections 35-146 and 35-147, the board shall deposit civil penalties collected pursuant to this chapter in the state general fund.
T. A licensee who is the subject of a disciplinary action may request an informal settlement conference. The licensee must submit a request for an informal settlement conference to the board in writing. The board shall hold an informal settlement conference within fifteen days after it receives a request to do so from the licensee. Only a person with the authority to act on behalf of the board may represent the board at the informal settlement conference. The board representative shall notify the licensee in writing that any written or oral statement made by the licensee at the informal settlement conference, including statements for the purpose of settlement negotiations, is inadmissible in any subsequent hearing. A licensee who participates in an informal settlement conference waives the right to object to the participation of the board representative in the final administrative decision.