Another PHMP Trap –Be Careful

Pennsylvania’s Professional Health Monitoring Program (“PHMP”)  is replete with trap doors and fake doorways that effectively extend the probationary period beyond three years.  In reviewing a client’s agreement to extend his PHMP probation for violating the terms thereof, I came across standard paragraph 5.g.  This paragraph is a catchall phrase that can and will extend a professional’s PHMP probation for an unknown amount of time.

My last blog discussed the different time calculations between a professional’s voluntary enrollment in and the Board’s formal acknowledgement of a PHMP agreement. In that case, the professional provisionally enrolled in December, his PHMP case worker intentionally did not provide to him the formal consent agreement until March, and the licensing board did not accept the consent agreement as of June.  This seven month delay effectively extended for a least seven months the finish line of his PHMP three year probation agreement.

Once a person violates their PHMP agreement, the probationary time period begins anew.  Typically, however, the clock will stop on the day of the violation (a missed drug test or a positive drug test), only to restart upon the entry of a new consent agreement.

As with every PHMP agreement, paragraph 5(g) is the clause of concern to me.  This paragraph in every PHMP agreement, consent agreements, and reinstatement consent agreements reads;

“after successful completion of the minimum period of probation, Respondent may petition the board, upon a form provided by the PHMP  reinstate respondent’s authorization to practice the profession to unrestricted, non-probationary status. The respondent is required to remain in compliance with all terms and conditions of this agreement and until the board issues the order terminating the respondent’s probationary status.”

This paragraph means that even though the PHMP monitored probation is three years, there is no automatic reinstatement of the participant’s license. Rather, the applicant must file a formal petition for reinstatement, on a form provided by PHMP and only then will the board schedule a hearing and rule on the reinstatement application.  These are two significant condition precedents to reinstatement to an unrestricted, non-probationary status license.

First the PHMP caseworker must provide and complete the appropriate form. The PHMP caseworker, with whom a participant has struggled for three years, will not necessarily execute the form in an appropriate and timely manner upon completion of the three-year time period. While a participant may feel they have done everything they are required, a PHMP case worker can and will cause a delay (for any number of months) in getting your the PHMP completion form or letter.  There will be nothing the PHM P participant can do because they require the form provided by their PHMP case worker before reinstatement may be sought.

Secondly, an application to a licensing board will necessarily generate a response from that board’s prosecutor.  Necessary due process hearing delays for prosecutor’s responses will follow.  As well, the matter may not be placed on the board’s agenda at the next board hearing.  Similar to the initial delay producing the PHMP consent agreement and a board executing that consent agreement, delays will be present before the board will address an application for unrestricted, non-probationary status.

Significantly, the respondent is required to remain in compliance with all terms and conditions of the PHMP agreement until the board issued its order terminating probationary status. This effectively means 3 to 6 additional months of more drug testing, workplace monitoring, and all other aspects of the PHMP consent agreement. These are huge issues.

Call me to discuss your PHMP case, application, and other issues.

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