The Network received a request for assistance from a state health official on a question related to voluntary surrender of a health department-issued license. Specifically, the requestor asked about a situation in which a licensee violates the substantive regulatory requirements of his or her license, but prior to a disciplinary hearing being held, voluntarily surrenders the license to the health department. Because the only public notice regarding the licensee is the change in the license status to “inactive,” the licensee is free to pursue licensing in another jurisdiction or future licensing in the same jurisdiction once institutional memory has faded without any record of disciplinary action. The requestor asked the Network to identify ways that state health departments could address this type of situation.
The Network contacted health officials from another state to ask whether they had experience with, and ideas for, solutions to this issue. Counsel to the legal department in that state advised that generally, if a licensee has violated substantive rules of licensure, the department would not accept the return of a license without holding disciplinary proceedings. Instead, they would proceed with some kind of disciplinary proceeding (e.g., suspension or revocation) and accept the license surrender only as part of a settlement agreement with enforceable conditions. Such conditions could include a period of time during which the individual cannot re-apply for a license, as well as registration of his or her status on national registries. If these conditions were not met, the department would proceed with license revocation or other disciplinary action.