The Board’s procedures for handling complaints are governed by its statute, regulations on hearing procedures and other applicable Maryland laws such as the Administrative Procedures Act and the Public Information act . Section 2-314 of the Board’s law lists the violations with which a practitioner may be charged and states that such a violation may result in the denial of a license, a reprimand, placing the practit ioner on probation or the suspension or revocation of a license.
Board Law: Section 2-314
Review and Investigation
- When the Board receives a complaint, the Board reviews the complaint to determine if it is under the Board’s jurisdiction. If the complaint is not under its jurisdiction, the Board will refer the complaint to the appropriate agency or close the complaint.
- If the complaint is under the Boar d’s jurisdiction, the Board may
- Refer the complaint to the practitioner for response,
- Refer the complaint directly to the Board investigator (if there is a reason not to share the complaint with the practitioner.)
- The Board reviews the complaint and the practitioner’s response (or the investigative report).
- If the complaint is referred to the investigator for additional information, the investigator interviews all relevant parties, including both the complainant and the practitioner and subpoenas all necessary records and documents.
- When the investigation is complete, the investigator submits a factual report to the Board. The Board reviews the investigative report to determ ine if the facts reported indicate that there is probable cau se to believe that the practitioner may have committed one of the acts described in Section 2-314 of the Board’s law.
- The Board may decide:
- not to charge the practitioner as there has been no apparent violation of the law;
- to informally sanction the practitioner, or
- to request the Attorney General's Office to charge the practitioner with violating the law.
- The Board’s decision on the complaint is made with the advice and concurrence of the Board’s Counsel.
- The complainant and the practitioner are advised of the Board’s decision.
- If the Board requests an informal meeting with the practitioner or decides to charge the practitioner with a violation of the law, the practitioner has the right to due process and to be represented by an attorney at all phase s of the process. Because the possibility exis ts that action could be take n against the practitioner’s license, it is advisable for the practitioner to retain legal counsel.
- The practitioner is provided with the comp laint, the investigative report and any other information needed to prepare a defense.
- The Attorney General’s Office assigns an attorney to present the case for the Board.
- The attorney assigned by the Attorney General's Office to present the case to the Board is not the attorney that acts as the Board's Counsel.
- If the Board does charge the practitioner, he or she is notified of the charges and a hearing is scheduled as provided in Section 2-315 of the law. If a hearing is held, the complainant may be required to testify. It is only after a hearing that the Board may take formal ac tion against a practitioner.
- It is important to emphasize that the fact that the Board brings formal charges against a practitioner reflects only its belief that there is probable cause to believe that the practitioner has committed a violation of the law. The Board’s final decision is based only on the evidence presented by both sides during the hearing.
- Before a formal hearing is held, a Case Resolution Conference is held where both sides attempt to reach an agreement.
If an agreement is reached, the practitioner may agree to certain conditions imposed by the Board. These could include:
- Additional continuing education in a certain area of the profession
- Monitoring of the practice by another practitioner who reports to the Board.
- Other conditions specific to the complaint.
If an agreement is reached to settle the case, a formal hearing is not held. The practitioner is bound by the terms of the agreement and surrenders his or her right to appeal the case.
- If an agreement is not reached at the Case Resolution conference, the case will proceed to a formal hearing. The formal hearing may be held before the Board or before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) from the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH).
After the formal hearing, the Board (or the ALJ) issues a decision that includes:
- Findings of Face -(what happened)
- Conclusions of Law -(what sections of the law were violated, if any)
- Sanctions -(recommended sanctions if heard by OAH)
Sanctions may include:
- Probation – usually with conditions
- Suspension – followed by a period of probation
- Revocation of the license The Board’s complaint procedures attempt to ensure that the review, investigation and hearing of complaints are handled in an objective and consistent manner. Following these procedures can take some months time. The Board will keep the complainant and the practitioner advised of the status of the complaint. When a final determination is made, the Board will notify the complainant and the practitioner.