Well almost.  Some Pennsylvania licensing boards have that power now, but it was unclear if others did.  Therefore, the law is being amended.  House Bill 261 has passed both the House and the Senate and, as of January 15, sits on Governor Corbett’s desk for signature.  All indications are that he will sign this bill.   Once signed, the bill will go into effect sixty (60) days later.

The bill will provide the authority for each licensing board to deny, suspend or revoke any license for failure to pay any fines, interest, or costs assessed as a result of a disciplinary proceeding.  It also provides that if the amount due exceeds one thousand ($1,000.00) dollars and remain unpaid the board has the ability to enter the amount as a civil judgment against the individual or corporate entity.  This judgment remains of record and does not need to ever be revived.  The board has up to sixty (60) months to enter such a judgment.  Further, once paid the board has up to ninety (90) days to satisfy their judgment.

In my opinion, this is good fix because certainly the intention has always been to be able to discipline a licensee for failure to pay their fines. I do not see the requirement for entering the fine as a judgment but generally this should never be an issue for a licensee.  I have been able to negotiate payment terms in cases where payment was difficult.

If you have any questions about licensing please contact me at jmcguire@c-wlaw.com.
 

Note:  The Governor signed this bill on February 4, 2014.
 
 
The passage of Massachusetts law restricting mandatory overtime for nurses gave me the occasion to look back and report on the Pennsylvania’s law.  Act 102 of 2008 is called the Prohibition on Excessive Overtime in Healthcare Act and went into effect on July 1, 2009.  These laws are designed to provide increased patient safety by preventing nurses from being forced to work mandatory overtime. Numerous studies have linked nurse fatigue and/or overwork to medical errors and/or patient deaths.  
 
At this time, with the addition of Massachusetts there are now 15 states with laws restricting mandatory overtime for nurses.  New Jersey, New York, and West Virginia are the neighboring states with such a law.  
  
Pennsylvania’s law does not go so far as to prohibit voluntarily exceeding eight hours in a day or forty hours in a week as some states have done.  Therefore, in Pennsylvania, a nurse may voluntarily work as many hours in a day or week as they like.  The law protects nurses from discrimination or retaliatory action for refusing to work overtime.  There are limited exceptions when a nurse may be required to work overtime but those essentially involve patient safety issues should the nurse not work the overtime.
 
The Department of State has a web page devoted to this law and reporting violations.   http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=614498&mode=2 The  Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP)  indicates on their website that they continue to monitor Pennsylvania’s law as well. http://www.pennanurses.org/pac/mot.html

If you have any questions about this, please contact me a jmcguire@c-wlaw.com.

 
 
Not that long ago I blogged about the new requirement for dentists to carry professional liability insurance.  Now Pennsylvania has added prosthetists, orthotists, pedothorthists and orthotic fitters to the list of medical professionals required to maintain professional liability insurance.  In fact, these professionals are now under the oversight of the Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine [Board] and will require licenses by 2014.
 
Governor Corbett signed HB 48 of 2011 into law on July 5, 2012.  This bill was supported by the Pennsylvania Orthotics and Prosthetics Society [POPS], Pedorthotic Footwear Association [PFA], National Orthotic Manufacturers Association [NOMA], the Pennsylvania Orthopedic Society [POS] and the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania [HAP].  With its passage, Pennsylvania joins more than a dozen states including Ohio and New Jersey in regulating the practices of prosthetics, orthotics and pedorthotics.
 
The bill, as passed, is poorly written.  This is probably partially due to edits during the legislative process and the fact that part of it was standard language drafted on a national level which was cut and pasted into the Act.  Representative Scavello’s press releases indicate that beginning in 2014, in order to be licensed as a prosthetist and orthotist an individual will be required to have at least an associate’s degree in prosthetics or orthotics and an additional two years of education or a bachelor’s degree and meet a work experience requirement that is two years or 3,800 hours of patient care.  Further, each licensee will need to pass an exam and other requirements as set by the Board.  Pedorthotists and orthotic fitters must complete a board approved entry-level education program specific to their field and have a minimum of 1,000 hours of supervised work experience.   
 
There is also a requirement that a licensee must be of “good moral character”.  Further, an applicant cannot “be addicted to alcohol, narcotics or other habit-forming drugs.”  Nor can the applicant have a conviction for a felony under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act.  Please contact me if you need assistance navigating the application process.  Once granted the license must be renewed every two years.
 
There is a grandfather provision that will allow current practitioners to obtain a license as well. Current practitioners have to apply within two years from the effective date and must meet other criteria which are unclear from the language of the statute as passed.  Representative Scavello has indicated that they must either be holding a current national certification or have been in continuous practice for three years to qualify.  However, the statute also lists requirements for education and training and actually requires both the certification and three years of experience.
 
Finally, under this act, all licensees are required to maintain one million dollars of professional liability insurance. 
The statute requires the Board to establish appropriate regulations within eighteen months and I have been told that the Board has started to draft regulations.  Hopefully, the statute will be amended and we will have regulations that will clarify the licensing requirements.

If you need any licensing advice or advice interpreting this statute pl