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File a Complaint Against a Licensee

OVERVIEW

Our Board receives and investigates reports of alleged unlawful, unauthorized, unqualified, or unethical practice of audiology, speech-language pathology or fitting and dispensing hearing aids by licensees and initiates disciplinary action as necessary to ensure the welfare and safety of the public.

The Board only has jurisdiction to take disciplinary action against a licensee. Board response to unlicensed practice is considered administrative action, as the Board’s jurisdiction is over the subject matter/practice.

  • Complaints are handled by the Board’s Executive Director, Investigator, and Board Counsel.
  • Details of a case are confidential and are not disclosed to the Board during an active investigation, as the Board will ultimately be the body charged with making findings of fact on the basis of the evidence if the case results in a Formal Hearing. 
  • Board staff cannot provide legal advice.
  • Board Members, staff, and Counsel may not discuss active complaint investigations with external parties not related to the investigation.
  • Board members who are contacted about or obtain knowledge of an active Complaint investigation must refrain from discussing the case and report the contact to the Board office. Should the case result in a Hearing before the Board at a Public Meeting, that member, and any others with an identified conflict of interest must 1) disclose the conflict, 2) recuse themselves from participating in the Hearing, and 3) abstain from voting on the matter.

If you are NOT making a Complaint against a licensee, learn more about Reporting Unlicensed Practice here.

COMPLAINT PROCESS

STEP 1: Filing a Complaint

WHO MAY BE NAMED IN A COMPLAINT?

Formal complaints may be filed with our Board against any licensee type listed below:

  • Speech-Language Pathologist or Provisional Speech-Language Pathologist
  • Audiologist or Dispensing Audiologist
  • Hearing Aid Specialist or Hearing Aid Specialist Apprentice

Please note that the Board does not regulate businesses. A complaint should reference at least one licensed practitioner over whom the Board has authority. The licensee against which the complaint is filed is referred to as the “Respondent.”

WHO MAY FILE A COMPLAINT?

A complaint may be filed by any of the following, and the person making the complaint is referred to as the “Complainant”:

  1. By any person who believes that another person licensed by the Board has violated a provision of NRS 637B or NAC 637B (NAC 637B.720(1)).
  2. The Board may, on its own, initiate a complaint against a person licensed by the Board (NAC 637B.720(2)).
  3. A Complaint may be filed anonymously. The Board may accept the complaint but may refuse to consider the complaint if anonymity makes processing the complaint impossible or unfair to the person who is the subject of the complaint. (NRS 637B.260)

Per NAC 637B.042(7), it is the professional responsibility of any Board licensee to report to the Board any unlicensed, unauthorized, unqualified or unethical practice of audiology, speech-language pathology or fitting and dispensing hearing aids that is occurring.

WHAT MUST BE INCLUDED IN A COMPLAINT?

A complaint must include ALL of the following:

  1. One or more reasons (grounds) for disciplinary action (NAC 637B.720);
  2. A statement that includes enough detail to allow the Board to understand the allegations (NAC 637B.720); and
  3. Enough detail to allow the Respondent to prepare a defense (NRS 637B.260).

HOW ARE COMPLAINTS FILED?

A complaint must be made in writing and must be submitted on a form provided by the Board (NRS 637B.260; NAC 637B.720). The form must be completed, signed, and dated by the Complainant, and submitted to the Board Office via email, regular mail, or fax.

STEP 2: Complaint Review

Per NAC 637B.720, the Board’s Executive Director, in consultation with Board Counsel, will review each complaint to decide if it merits a formal investigation.

Possible Outcomes

  • Case Closed: No case is opened if there is insufficient evidence to proceed with an investigation. No notice is sent to the licensee named in the complaint. The Complainant, if known, will be notified in writing.
  • Formal Investigation and Notice to Respondent of Intent to Consider Disciplinary Action: The case is opened for a Formal Investigation and notice is provided to the Respondent per NRS 233B.127. (see below)

STEP 3: Formal Investigation and Notice to Respondent of Intent to Consider Disciplinary Action (if applicable)

The Board has authority to initiate disciplinary action per NRS 637B.250. If a formal investigation proceeds, the Respondent is given notice of the Complaint per NRS 233B.127 and is entitled to an attorney at all times during this process. The Complainant is also notified in writing when a case is opened.

At this stage, an investigation is conducted to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to substantiate an allegation and the Respondent is provided an opportunity to respond to the complaint allegations. When a complaint is formally investigated, interviews may be conducted with the Complainant, Respondent, and any other individuals who have knowledge of the alleged circumstances. Details of the investigation remain confidential and are not part of the public record. Per authority granted in NRS 637B.135, the Board may also issue subpoenas to the Respondent or other entities to gather information.

Possible Outcomes

  • Dismissal: A complaint may be dismissed if it is determined that sufficient evidence does not exist to substantiate an allegation. Some cases may also be handled through referral to a more appropriate agency or organization. The Executive Director, in consultation with Board Counsel, may make a recommendation to the Board for dismissal. Any case that has been opened for a Formal Investigation must be recommended and approved for dismissal by the full Board at a Public Meeting. As such, several months may pass before the case can be heard at a meeting and dismissed. Once dismissed, the Respondent and Complainant will be notified in writing.
  • Consent Decree: As an alternative to a Public Hearing, a Respondent may agree to resolve the case by entering into a Consent Decree, a binding agreement with the Board wherein the licensee stipulates to facts of the case and agrees to proposed discipline. The terms of the Consent Decree are typically negotiated between Board Counsel, the Executive Director, and the Respondent, and presented to the Board for review and approval. As such, several months may pass before the Consent Decree may be heard at a meeting and approved. If approved, the Respondent and Complainant will be notified in writing. Per NRS 637B.280(3), the Consent Decree also becomes a Public Record and may be released by the Board on request. The Board may also be mandated to report this action to one or more state/federal entities (see Reporting Requirements below). 
  • Formal Public Hearing: If the formal investigation determines a potential violation of Board law or regulations warranting disciplinary action, and the Respondent does not agree to a Consent Decree, a formal Public Hearing may be held (see below).

STEP 4: Formal Public Hearing (if applicable)

Scheduling & Notice to Respondent: A Hearing may be an item on a regular Board meeting agenda or scheduled as a special meeting for the Hearing only. It is most appropriate for the full Board to be present during a Public Hearing. Proper notice must be given to the Respondent by one of the following: 1) Certified mail at least 30 calendar days in advance of the Hearing; 2) In-person service at least 5 calendar days in advance of the Hearing; 3) At any time with a Waiver of Notice signed by the Respondent. 

Hearing Purpose: The purpose of the Hearing is to determine contested issues related to the practice law and/or regulations allegedly violated by the licensee. Specifically: 1) Whether the licensee engaged in certain acts; and, 2) If so, whether those acts violate the Board's practice act and regulations. If these are determined to have occurred, the Board may then determine the appropriate disciplinary action.

Hearing Process: This Hearing is not as formal as a court proceeding but must provide the Respondent an opportunity for due process and conduct its proceedings in consideration of and in accordance with fair play. Per NAC 637B.730, contested disciplinary hearings must be conducted in accordance with NRS 637B, NRS 233B, NRS 622A, and NRS 637B.250 to 637B.288, inclusive. The Complainant and others may be called as witnesses. Board members will hear the case and take testimony from both sides: Board staff, represented by the Deputy Attorney General, and the Respondent and their Counsel, if represented.

Hearing Aid Specialist Apprentices: Per NAC 637B.720(6), for any proceedings regarding a complaint filed against a Hearing Aid Specialist Apprentice, the Board may require that the Apprentice be accompanied by any Hearing Aid Specialist or Dispensing Audiologist who signed, dated, or reviewed a record regarding a patient related to the complaint.

Recusal & Abstention Due to Conflict of Interest: A Board Member who identifies a potential conflict of interest on a case, whether through prior knowledge of the investigation, a past/present personal or professional relationship with the licensee, or some other reason for which they feel they could not be impartial, should consult with Board Counsel and consider recusing themselves from the Hearing or Consent Decree review. The member may still be present in the meeting, as their presence contributes to meeting the overall quorum requirement but can then recuse (withdraw) themselves from the discussion and deliberation and abstain (decline to vote) on the findings and discipline.  

Possible Outcomes

  • Disciplinary Action: The hearing may result in the Board determining that the Respondent engaged in certain acts and that those acts violated the Board's practice act and regulations. Per NRS 637B.280, the Board may impose any of the following disciplinary actions and is prohibited from administering a private reprimand:
    • Refuse to renew a license;
    • Revoke a license;
    • Suspend a license;
    • Administer to the licensee a public reprimand;
    • Impose conditions on the practice of the licensee;
    • Impose a civil penalty not to exceed $5,000 for each act constituting grounds for disciplinary action;
    • Impose any combination of the disciplinary actions described above.

Per NAC 637B.735 and pursuant to NRS 622.400, the Board may also order the reimbursement of attorney’s fees (Board Counsel) and costs relating to any disciplinary proceedings.

The final Board Order detailing the finding and discipline becomes Public Record and may be released by the Board on request. The Board may also be mandated to report this action to one or more state/federal entities – see Reporting Requirements below.

REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

As noted in NRS 637B.280(3) an order that imposes discipline and the findings of fact and conclusions of law supporting that order are public records. The Board may release a copy of a disciplinary order to anyone upon request and will send a copy of a final order to the original Complainant when the case is concluded. The Board is mandated to report disciplinary actions to the following entities:

  • Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau (LCB): Per NRS 622.100, the Board is mandated to report licensing statistics and disciplinary actions to the State of Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau (LCB) on a quarterly basis for all licensees. These reports are publicly available on the LCB website.
  • National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB): Eligible entities such as our Board are authorized by Title IV of the Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986 to report to and/or query the NPDB, an online database administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that houses information on medical malpractice payments and certain adverse actions related to health care practitioners, providers, and suppliers. Hearing Aid Specialists are not defined as healthcare providers and therefore not reported to the NPDB, but all other license types are. The Board must report disciplinary action to the NPDB within 30 days of the final action.

CONFIDENTIALITY

The following Complaint records remain CONFIDENTIAL:

  • Records of Complaints filed with the Board, including all investigative documents and information, unless one of the following applies: 1) There is an exception in NRS 637B and/or NRS 239.0115; or 2) the Licensee (Respondent) submits a written statement to the Board requesting that the information be made public records. (NRS 637B.288)

The following Complaint records are considered PUBLIC RECORDS:

  • The charging documents filed with the Board to initiate disciplinary action pursuant to chapter 622A of NRS and all documents and information considered by the Board when determining whether to impose discipline (NRS 637B.288(2)).
  • A Consent Decree once approved by the Board at a Public Meeting (NRS 637B.280(3))
  • An order that imposes discipline and the findings of fact and conclusions of law supporting that order (NRS 637B.280(3))

The Board may also communicate or cooperate with or provide any documents or other information to any other licensing board or any other agency that is investigating a person, including law enforcement. (NRS 637B.288(3))

RECORDKEEPING

The Board retains all complaints, including any complaints not acted upon, for at least 10 years. (NRS 637B.260(3))

Page Updated: 1/24/2022 3:08:56 PM