Penalties for Technical Violations of Occupational Regulations

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Background

MDH issues occupational credentials to Alcohol and Drug Counselors, Audiologists, Hearing Instrument Dispensers, Occupational Therapy Practitioners and Speech-Language Pathologists. When violations of occupational regulations are alleged, current law requires accountability procedures involving investigations and civil penalties calculated on the basis of economic advantage gained by the violation or costs of investigation and proceedings. A permanent and public disciplinary record results when violations are proven.

Why this is an issue?

The commissioner needs specific authority to use a more efficient process for holding practitioners accountable for violations that do not directly harm patients and are not competency-related violations such as practicing without a license and failing to meet continuing education requirements. Though routine and effective in maintaining compliance and the integrity of the credentialing systems, current accountability procedures could be more efficient by distinguishing apparent violations of technical requirements from allegations of physical harm or incompetent practice. Also, there is some harshness in creating a disciplinary record for technical violations that do not directly affect patients.

How does this legislation address the issue?

This legislative initiative would amend the practice acts of the above-named occupations to give the commissioner authority to assess administrative penalties for non-compliance with licensing requirements pertaining to application and continuing education requirements. Notice of the penalty schedule, and payment of fines for noncompliance would occur as part of the license application and renewal processes rather than as a result of investigation and enforcement actions. In addition, the violation and payment of the penalty would be characterized as non-disciplinary so that it is not a public and permanent sanction on the licensee’s record.

Who is affected?

This legislation has been fully discussed with and approved by the Advisory Councils for Alcohol and Drug Counselor Licensing, Hearing Instrument Dispenser Certification, Occupational Therapy Licensing and Speech-Language Pathology/Audiology Licensing. There is unanimous support of representatives of practitioners and no known opposition.

For more information

MDH contact: Tom Hiendlmayr, director
Health Occupations Program
651.282.5626
tom.hiendlmayr@state.mn.us

Updated Tuesday, 16-Nov-2010 12:27:53 CST