(1)(a) The secretary, in consultation with the disciplining authorities, shall develop uniform procedural rules to respond to public inquiries concerning complaints and their disposition, active investigations, statement of charges, findings of fact, and final orders involving a license holder, applicant, or unlicensed person. The uniform procedural rules adopted under this subsection apply to all adjudicative proceedings conducted under this chapter and shall include provisions for establishing time periods for initial assessment, investigation, charging, discovery, settlement, and adjudication of complaints, and shall include enforcement provisions for violations of the specific time periods by the department, the disciplining authority, and the respondent. A license holder must be notified upon receipt of a complaint, except when the notification would impede an effective investigation. At the earliest point of time the license holder must be allowed to submit a written statement about that complaint, which statement must be included in the file. Complaints filed after July 27, 1997, are exempt from public disclosure under chapter 42.56 RCW until the complaint has been initially assessed and determined to warrant an investigation by the disciplining authority. Complaints determined not to warrant an investigation by the disciplining authority are no longer considered complaints, but must remain in the records and tracking system of the department. Information about complaints that did not warrant an investigation, including the existence of the complaint, may be released only upon receipt of a written public disclosure request or pursuant to an interagency agreement as provided in (b) of this subsection. Complaints determined to warrant no cause for action after investigation are subject to public disclosure, must include an explanation of the determination to close the complaint, and must remain in the records and tracking system of the department.
(b) The secretary, on behalf of the disciplining authorities, shall enter into interagency agreements for the exchange of records, which may include complaints filed but not yet assessed, with other state agencies if access to the records will assist those agencies in meeting their federal or state statutory responsibilities. Records obtained by state agencies under the interagency agreements are subject to the limitations on disclosure contained in (a) of this subsection.
(2) The uniform procedures for conducting investigations shall provide that prior to taking a written statement:
(a) For violation of this chapter, the investigator shall inform such person, in writing of: (i) The nature of the complaint; (ii) that the person may consult with legal counsel at his or her expense prior to making a statement; and (iii) that any statement that the person makes may be used in an adjudicative proceeding conducted under this chapter; and
(b) From a witness or potential witness in an investigation under this chapter, the investigator shall inform the person, in writing, that the statement may be released to the license holder, applicant, or unlicensed person under investigation if a statement of charges is issued.
(3) Only upon the authorization of a disciplining authority identified in RCW 18.130.040(2)(b), the secretary, or his or her designee, may serve as the presiding officer for any disciplinary proceedings of the disciplining authority authorized under this chapter. The presiding officer shall not vote on or make any final decision in cases pertaining to standards of practice or where clinical expertise is necessary. All functions performed by the presiding officer shall be subject to chapter 34.05 RCW. The secretary, in consultation with the disciplining authorities, shall adopt procedures for implementing this subsection.
(4) Upon delegation from the secretary, a presiding officer may conduct disciplinary proceedings for professions identified in RCW 18.130.040(2)(a). All functions performed by the presiding officer are subject to chapter 34.05 RCW. Decisions of the presiding officer are initial decisions subject to review by the secretary. The secretary shall adopt procedures for implementing this subsection.
(5) The uniform procedural rules shall be adopted by all disciplining authorities listed in RCW 18.130.040(2), and shall be used for all adjudicative proceedings conducted under this chapter, as defined by chapter 34.05 RCW. The uniform procedural rules shall address the use of a presiding officer authorized in subsections (3) and (4) of this section to determine and issue decisions on all legal issues and motions arising during adjudicative proceedings.
[2013 c 109 § 2; 2008 c 134 § 9; 2005 c 274 § 231; 1997 c 270 § 1; 1995 c 336 § 6; 1993 c 367 § 2.]
| Finding -- Intent -- Severability -- 2008 c 134: See notes following RCW 18.130.020.|
Part headings not law -- Effective date--2005 c 274: See RCW 42.56.901 and 42.56.902.