Joseph P. Hougnon, Attorney at Law

Physical Therapist License Defense Attorney


Physical therapists use their knowledge and experience to help their patients gain increased mobility, reduced pain, and improved overall health after an accident or injury. This knowledge and experience come at a price. It takes years of study to obtain a physical therapy license in the State of California. However, once licensure is obtained, the payoff is worth the effort. Licensed physical therapists in California can make a comfortable living putting their skills to use helping patients regain physical normalcy.

If you are a California physical therapist, your license is your life. It allowed you to build your practice. It allows you to continue your practice. More importantly, it allows you to pay your bills, take care of yourself and your family, and plan for the future. However, that ability to earn a living can come to a crashing halt if something occurs to impact your physical therapist’s license.

A single complaint against you or a single lapse in judgment can threaten your physical therapist’s license, destroy your reputation, and make your plans for the future unattainable. Once that complaint or mistake is made, the wheels of administrative justice are set in motion. An investigation, disciplinary proceedings, and professional and personal disgrace all become very real possibilities. Furthermore, the rules that control an investigation or disciplinary proceeding against you are complex and exacting. It is highly unlikely that someone lacking knowledge of these rules, as well as the proceedings they govern, could successfully defend the allegations made against them and avoid suspension or even revocation of their professional license.

If you have been contacted by an investigator from the California Physical Therapy Board or have received a formal accusation from the Board via U.S. Mail, you may need to take immediate action to protect your license. Physical therapist’s license defense attorney Joe Hougnon has the expertise and the knowledge necessary to defend your license and your livelihood against disciplinary proceedings. No matter what the specifics of your particular situation are, Joe can work to protect your practice, your reputation, and your future. Contact his office today for a free and confidential consultation.

The Physical Therapy Board of California

There are nearly 20,000 licensed physical therapists in the State of California. Every one of these licenses is managed and regulated by the Physical Therapy Board of California, or PTBC. It is the mission of the PTBC “to promote and protect the interests of the people of California by the effective and consistent administration and enforcement of the Physical Therapy Practice Act.” The PTBC is not only charged with issuing licenses, but it also has the responsibility to investigate complaints and impose discipline in cases where the actions of a particular physical therapist have impacted the health,  safety, and welfare of the public. It goes without saying that the PTBC takes this responsibility very seriously.

The PTBC Disciplinary Process

The PTBC initiates a disciplinary proceeding when a complaint is made against a licensed physical therapist. A complaint can be initiated by a patient, a colleague, or any party who feels the therapist has violated the laws and regulations governing the profession. Disciplinary proceedings can also be initiated if a therapist is convicted of a crime. The PTBC has jurisdiction over cases that involve alleged violations of the California Physical Therapy Act and the Business and Professions Code. While there are a number of reasons why a physical therapist may be subject to discipline, there are several offenses that the PTBC considers serious. These include:

  • Sexual misconduct
  • Gross negligence
  • Repeated negligent acts
  • Incompetence
  • Billing fraud
  • Criminal conviction of a felony or misdemeanor.

Once a complaint is received, it is forwarded to the Consumer Protection Services Division of PTBC. Once there, an enforcement analyst examines the complaint to see if the PTBC has jurisdiction over the matter. If so, the analyst can request more information from the complainant, consult with a physical therapy expert regarding the allegations, close the complaint, or refer the matter to the PTBC’s Department of Investigation.

As the name implies, the Department of Investigation will conduct an investigation into the matter, and interview the complainant, the physical therapist, and any other party who may have information bearing on the case. Documentation such as bills and medical records will also be examined. At the conclusion of the investigation, depending on the evidence, one of the following actions will be taken:

  • The case is closed, but retained on file for five years if the allegations in the complaint could not be substantiated
  • The case is closed but retained indefinitely in cases where there was insufficient evidence to take action against the therapist
  • A citation and fine of up to $5000 is issued to the therapist;
  • The case is referred to the Office of the California Attorney General for the issuance of a formal accusation against the therapist. An accusation is issued in only the most serious matters. In these cases, the PTBC will almost certainly attempt to suspend or revoke the license of the physical therapist involved.

After an accusation is filed, the matter will proceed to an administrative hearing. At the hearing, both sides will present evidence to support their respective positions and the officer in charge of the hearing will issue a proposed decision. This proposed decision is not binding on the PTBC. The Board has the power to adopt the decision or increase or decrease the recommended penalty.

If the therapist disagrees with the Board’s decision, he or she has the option to appeal the matter to the California court system. However, on any appeal, the court will only review the record of the administrative hearing for mistakes that were made in the application of the law. It will not review the factual evidence or hear any new evidence.

It should also be noted that the PTBC will initiate disciplinary proceedings against a physical therapist who has pled guilty to or been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor that is substantially related to the practice of physical therapy. In general, the Board will attempt to revoke or suspend the license of therapist involved in a DUI, or a crime of violence, fraud or other dishonesty.

Be aware that the laws and regulations governing the practice of physical therapy are strict and exacting. The PTBC process of enforcing these laws and regulations are similarly stringent. If disciplinary proceedings are initiated against you, the Board will do its best to revoke or suspend your license, robbing you of your ability to earn a living. Because of this, all communication from the PTBC regarding complaints must be dealt with proactively. Ignoring the Board will only result in the loss of your license. California physical therapist’s license defense attorney Joe Hougnon can give you the aggressive representation that you need to keep your license and keep working. Feel free to contact our office today for a free and confidential consultation.

Joe Hougnon, Esq.

Answers to all your questions are only a phone call away. Call Now at (916) 730-5251.