Occasionally, licensees being investigated for potential violations of their respective practice acts are given advanced notice of the investigation by the licensing authority. When providing this notice, the investigating licensee agency may or may not be transparent regarding the nature of the investigation.
Specifically, some licensing agencies are quite opaque; the notice will omit the source, date, and nature of complaint, as well as what portions of the Penal Code, underlying practice act, or California Code of Regulations are suspected to have been violated.
Let Me Get to the Bottom of This
This, oftentimes, leaves the licensee puzzled and asking him or herself, "why am I being investigated?" It may even prompt them to reach out to the investigator or underlying licensing agency in an attempt to receive informal information.
Such an informal attempt is not always in the licensee's best interest. For example, if the licensee makes contact with the investigator, they may find themselves entering into an impromptu interview with the investigator. Questions could be asked and information volunteered that could be critical to the investigator's take on the underlying events. Or they could be considered admissions against the licensee's interest. Furthermore, the investigator might casually schedule a further, an in-person conversation, that for the inexperienced licensee may seem like nothing at all. But, in fact, it is a formal interview that will impact the findings and recommendation of the investigator.
Experienced professional licensing defense attorneys know these investigators tricks of the trade. And if the licensee was wary and savvy enough, hopefully they realized the potential trap as well and avoided making direct contact.
There is, however, a formal way of getting that missing information. It is called the 800(c) Inquiry. It is named after the section of the Business & Professions Code where it is found and it permits the party being investigated–or counsel hired by the party–to formally request the information found within any centralized investigatory file the licensing agency has for him or her.
Specifically, the subsection reads as follows (emphasis mine):
the licensee involved, or his or her counsel or representative, shall have the right to inspect and have copies made of his or her complete file except for the provision that may disclose the identity of an information source. For the purposes of this section, a board may protect an information source by providing a copy of the material with only those deletions necessary to protect the identity of the source or by providing a comprehensive summary of the substance of the material. Whichever method is used, the board shall ensure that full disclosure is made to the subject of any personal information that could reasonably in any way reflect or convey anything detrimental, disparaging, or threatening to a licensee's reputation, rights, benefits, privileges, or qualifications, or be used by a board to make a determination that would affect a licensee's rights, benefits, privileges, or qualifications.
- Medical Board of California
- Board of Psychology
- Dental Board
- Osteopathic Medical Board
- Board of Chiropractic Examiners
- Board of Registered Nursing
- Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians
- Board of Optometry
- Veterinary Medical Board
- Board of Behavioral Sciences
- Physical Therapy Board
- Board of Pharmacy
- Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensers Board
- Board of Occupational Therapy
- Acupuncture Board
- Physician Assistant Board
What Needs to Be In It?
The inquiry itself is quite simple. It is merely a letter to the licensing agency directing it to comply with the above subsection. If sent by counsel, the inquiry should probably include an attachment demonstrating authorization from the licensee for the attorney to act on his or her behalf.