Legal Counsel for Defense Against Placement on Department of Mental Health Employee Disqualification Registry
Missouri mental health care workers may receive notice that the state Department of Mental Health (DMH) intends to place their name on their Employee Disqualification Registry (EDR). These are serious allegations that can effectively end one’s career in the mental health field and lead to other serious consequences. Workers who receive notice from DMH must respond quickly and effectively to ensure they can continue working. If DMH alleges your name should be placed on the EDR, contact the Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley for experienced representation by attorneys with the knowledge and background needed to defend you.
The DMH Employee Disqualification Registry
If your name is placed on the EDR, you are prohibited from working with consumers who receive services from DMH. The EDR is a list of individuals who are disqualified from holding any position in facility that is operated, licensed, certified, accredited, or funded by DMH. A facility can be public or private and includes mental health programs in which people are voluntarily admitted, involuntarily detained, or civilly committed. Individuals placed on the EDR cannot work in any of these facilities for the length of time their name is on the EDR, which could be many years.
Anyone who works in the mental health field in Missouri is potentially subject to being placed on the EDR. This includes registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, nurse’s aides, patient care technicians, and other unlicensed employees. DMH maintains the EDR and it is available to these employers on an ongoing basis. If your name is placed on the EDR, you immediately become ineligible to work at these facilities, meaning you will likely be terminated and have extreme difficulty finding another job in the mental health field in Missouri.
Conduct That Could Lead to EDR Placement
Under Chapter 630 RSMo and state regulations applicable to DMH, a person may be listed on the EDR as a result of the following conduct:
- Sexual abuse;
- Physical abuse;
- Verbal abuse;
- Misuse of funds/property.
Injury is not required for DMH to seek placement of someone’s name on the EDR. DMH may also pursue placement for those who are accused of diverting a patient’s medications, even medications that are refused or scheduled to be wasted.
The EDR Disciplinary Process
The EDR disciplinary process starts when an allegation is made to DMH. This may come from an employer, a patient, a patient’s family member, or someone else. The complaint is assigned to an investigator, who must complete his or her investigation within 60 days. DMH then must make a preliminary determination within 20 days of the end of the investigation. If that determination is that EDR placement is not warranted, the process ends.
If DMH preliminarily determines that someone’s name should be placed on the EDR, it sends written notice. This notice includes the reason DMH believes a name should be on the EDR and the proposed length of the placement. Anyone who receives this letter has 20 days to either request a meeting with DMH or provide a written response, which can include presenting evidence. This timeline is strictly enforced and anyone who fails to respond loses his or her ability to do so. If you receive a preliminary determination letter from DMH, you must quickly and effectively respond. Representation by an attorney with experience in mental health care and this area of law is critical to an effective response. Our attorneys will work with you to respond either in person or in writing in order to defeat or mitigate the allegations against you.
DMH next makes a final determination. This comes within 20 days of the meeting/written response or, for those who do not respond, within 20 days of the deadline. A successful response could mean DMH reverses the preliminary determination, ending the process. It could also mean DMH limits or reduces the allegations against you. DMH could also affirm its preliminary determination. If the final determination is that your name goes on the EDR, the case is not over. Individuals in this situation have the right to a hearing. Strict timelines govern requests for hearings, so it is important to obtain counsel as quickly as possible.
Hearings are conducted by a hearing officer from the state Department of Health and Senior Services or Department of Social Services. At the hearing, each side can make an opening statement, call witnesses, introduce evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and make closing a closing statement. Procedural and evidentiary rules must be followed, including by those who represent themselves and have no legal experience. The hearing officer decides whether the mental health care worker’s name can be placed on the EDR and, if so, whether DMH’s proposed placement is appropriate.
Individuals who lose their hearing have the right to file a petition for judicial review in circuit court. These proceedings may involve additional discovery and always involve written legal briefing and oral arguments. Health care workers may then be able to appeal to the Missouri Court of Appeals if necessary. These proceedings often involve complex legal and factual arguments and representation by an attorney is important. If you are faced with an EDR hearing or seek to appeal a finding against you, contact the Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley today.
The Impact of Criminal Convictions on Mental Health Employment
Workers in the mental health field who are convicted or found guilty of certain felonies face restrictions on their ability to work. Certain felonies, such as elder abuse, may result in restrictions similar to those resulting from being on the EDR. Other felonies may prevent someone from working in direct patient care. Individuals who are arrested for or charged with a crime should contact the Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley as soon as possible. Decisions made during the criminal court process may impact your ability to work in the mental health field for years. Moreover, if you have a state license you may also face a complaint from the agency or board that licensed you. Mental health workers in this situation need an attorney who understands both criminal law and the law related to mental health professionals. Our Firm’s attorneys have broad experience and deep knowledge in these areas and will provide comprehensive representation to workers facing multiple legal issues.
Exceptions to or Removal from the EDR
Missouri law provides DMH the authority to grant exceptions to EDR placement. It also allows mental heath workers whose names were placed on the EDR to have it removed early. Both avenues of relief require meeting certain requirements and making the right arguments to DMH. The Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley has the expertise and background to assist you with an exception to, or removal from, EDR placement. Our attorneys can guide you through the process and ensure you have the best chance of maintaining or regaining your ability to work in the mental health field in Missouri.
If you are notified that the Department of Mental Health intends to place your name on its Employee Disqualification Registry, contact the Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley to address the situation by calling (314) 645-4100 or by email at email@example.com.