The job of the Arizona Optometry Board (located in Phoenix, AZ) is to protect and promote the medical welfare of the people of Arizona. They do this by ensuring each professional who holds a license as a optometrist in Arizona is able to practice safely and promote health. This means the Arizona Optometry Board has the authority to discipline the license and practice of any optometrist that comes in contact with Arizona. Chelle Law’s Arizona Optometry Board Attorney has represented over 1000 health care professionals before the Board and have the professional licensing defense experience needed to defend the rights of optometrists with Arizona Board of Optometry Examiners healthcare litigation matters. Our office and defense attorney assists:
Arizona Optometrist License Complaint
Who can file a complaint against a optometrist? Patients, Health Care Facilities, optometrists, other health care professionals, among others can contact the Board and allege legal violations. When the Arizona Optometry Board receives a complaint the Board initiates an investigation into the complaint (if the Board has jurisdiction and the Complaint isn’t dismissed) and a case is opened. After this happens, the optometrist receives notice and the Board assigns an investigator to the case. Please note, having an attorney during this step can be crucial and can protect your rights. This is because a optometrist must submit a response, interview with the investigator while also possibly appearing at a AZ Optometry Board Meeting. Our office can assist optometrists with interpreting Arizona health law.
Optometrist Application Denial Assistance
Applicants to the Arizona Optometry Board who have a criminal history from years ago (like a DUI) or previous case discipline by the Arizona Optometry Board (or any other Optometry Board) may be subject to denial of their application for licensure. Thus, those with a criminal or disciplinary history from other licensing boards will be investigated by the Arizona Optometry Board after receiving contact of an investigation.
Reporting a Misdemeanor to the Optometry Board
Optometrists who currently hold a valid license with the Arizona Optometry Board or pending applicants must notify the Board of any criminal charge that may affect patient safety within ten (10) business days (like a DUI). Optometrists should learn what crimes an individual must report and the potential discipline that can come with it. With possible assistance for abuse issues from the Arizona Optometric Association.
Optometrist Administrative Appeal and Hearing
Any professional optometrist licensee may request a legal appeal of an Arizona Optometry Board disciplinary action 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 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 optometrist’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.
Optometrist Practice Disciplinary Actions
Optometrists who hold a license or certification in Arizona can face license actions by the AZ Optometrist Board for any investigatory matters. If the 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 Optometry Practice Act and Arizona law. Thus, at an Arizona Optometry Board Meeting (see archived Meeting Minutes and Agendas) 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 optometrist formal discipline.
Examples of Disciplinary Actions include:
- CASE DISMISSAL: The Board may dismiss a case if they determine there was not a violation of Arizona law.
- LETTER OF CONCERN: A letter from the Board expressing concern that the optometrist’s conduct was not ideal; however, the conduct does not necessarily violate Arizona law. (Not uncommon for a first time DUI)
- NON-DISCIPLINARY ORDER: The Board will require a prescribed number of hours of continuing education that provides the necessary understanding of current developments, skills, procedures or treatment.
- DECREE OF CENSURE: A decree of censure is the lowest level of formal discipline. There are no probationary requirements.
- CIVIL PENALTY: This is similar to a Decree of Censure. The difference is a optometrist can receive a fine (up to $2000 per violation).
- PROBATION: Probation is offered through a Consent Agreement. The Consent Agreement requires the optometrist to do certain things (drug testing, work supervision, counseling, continuing education). Or alternatively, refrain from doing things (unsupervised care, using alcohol, etc.).
- SUSPENSION: A suspension stops the optometrist from practicing as a optometrist for a period of time until the Board lifts the suspension.
- REVOCATION: If the Board revokes a optometrist‘s license the optometrist will be unable to provide care for a minimum amount of time. After the period the optometrist will have to reapply for their license after the five year period has ended. If the optometrist reapplies for licensure the nurse must must demonstrate that the grounds for revocation (substance abuse, mental health problems, criminal convictions, medical issues) has been rectified.
- VOLUNTARY SURRENDER: The optometrist voluntarily gives up their license. The benefit of a voluntary surrender is that the Board is usually willing to reduce the amount of time until a optometrist can reapply (between 2 to 3 years).
Contact Our Arizona Healthcare Professional Lawyer
If you’re interested in learning more about our license defense lawyer services (located in Phoenix) and how to protect your rights, set up a consultation with Chelle Law and our Arizona Optometrist Attorney and counsel reach out to us today.