(a) It shall be the duty of the board to pass upon the qualifications of applicants for licensing as physical therapists and licensing as physical therapist assistants, to conduct examinations, to issue licenses and renewals to physical therapists and physical therapist assistants qualifying under this article and in a proper case to suspend or revoke the license of such persons. The board may adopt rules and regulations not inconsistent with law as it may deem necessary for the performance of its duties; however, the board shall not issue any rules or regulations that require a physical therapist assistant to be within sight of a consulting physical therapist or a physical therapist supervisor while working under the direction of that physical therapist or issue any rules, regulations, or orders inconsistent with Section 34-24-217(b). The board shall maintain a listing of the name of every living physical therapist and physical therapist assistant licensed in this state, his or her last known place of business and last known place of residence, and the date and number of his or her license. The board shall compile a list of physical therapists and physical therapist assistants licensed to practice in this state, and such list shall be available to any person upon application to the board and the payment of such charge as may be fixed by the board. Subject to the provisions of Section 34-24-195, the board shall have the power to make such expenditures and employ such personnel as it may deem necessary for the administration of the provisions of this article. The board shall hire and establish the responsibilities and salary of an executive director.
(b) The board is hereby specifically authorized to establish and collect a fee for certifying to other boards or entities that a licensee is a member in good standing with the Alabama board.
(c) The board may collect a fee from providers of continuing education programs.
(d) The board is hereby authorized to discipline its licensees by the adoption and collection of administrative fines, not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000) per violation, and it is further authorized to institute any legal proceedings necessary to effect compliance with this chapter.
(e) The board shall provide for an impaired practitioner program beginning January 1, 2014.
(1) The board shall promote the early identification, intervention, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical therapy licensees who may be impaired by reason of illness, inebriation, excessive use of drugs, narcotics, alcohol, chemicals, or other substances, or as a result of any physical or mental condition.
(2) In order to carry out this obligation the board may contract with any nonprofit corporation or medical professional association for the purpose of creating, supporting, and maintaining a committee to be designated the Alabama Physical Therapy Wellness Committee. The committee shall be selected in a manner prescribed by the board. The board may expend available funds as necessary to adequately provide for the operational expenses of the committee including, but not limited to, the actual cost of travel, office overhead, and personnel expense. The funds provided by the board for the purpose of operating expenses are not subject to any provision of law requiring competitive bidding.
(3) The board may enter into an agreement with a nonprofit corporation or medical professional association for the committee to undertake those functions and responsibilities specified in the agreement, which may include any or all of the following:
a. Contracting with providers of treatment programs.
b. Receiving and evaluating reports of suspected impairment from any source.
c. Intervening in cases of verified impairment.
d. Referring impaired physical therapy licensees to treatment programs.
e. Monitoring the treatment and rehabilitation of impaired physical therapy licensees.
f. Providing post-treatment monitoring and support of rehabilitated impaired physical therapy licensees.
g. Performing other activities as agreed by the board and the committee.
(4) The committee shall develop procedures in consultation with the board for all of the following:
a. Periodic reporting of statistical information regarding impaired physical therapy licensee program activity.
b. Periodic disclosure and joint review of all information the board deems appropriate regarding reports received, contracts or investigations made, and the disposition of each report. The committee may not disclose any personally identifiable information except as otherwise provided in this article.
(5) Any individual appointed to serve as a member of the committee and any auxiliary personnel, consultant, attorney, or other volunteer or employee of the committee taking any action authorized by this article, engaging in the performance of any duties on behalf of the committee, or participating in any administrative or judicial proceeding resulting therefrom, in the performance and operation thereof, shall be immune from any liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed. Any nonprofit corporation or medical professional association or other entity that contracts with or receives funds from the board for the creation, support, and operation of the committee, in so doing, shall be immune from any liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed.
(6) All information, interviews, reports, statements, memoranda, or other documents furnished to or produced by the committee and any findings, conclusions, recommendations, or reports resulting from any investigation, intervention, treatment, or rehabilitation, or other proceeding of the committee is privileged and confidential. All records and proceedings of the committee pertaining to an impaired physical therapy licensee are confidential and shall be used by the committee and the members of the committee only in the exercise of the proper function of the committee and shall not be public record nor available for court subpoena or for discovery proceedings. In the event of a breach of contract between the committee and the impaired physical therapy licensee, all records pertaining to the conduct determined to cause the breach of contract shall be disclosed to the board upon its request for disciplinary purposes only. Nothing contained in this subdivision shall apply to records made in the regular course of business of a physical therapy licensee and any information, document, or record otherwise available from an original source is not to be construed as immune from discovery or use in any civil proceeding merely because it is presented or considered during proceedings of the committee.
(7) The committee shall render an annual report to the board concerning the operations and proceedings of the committee for the preceding year. The committee shall report to the board any physical therapy licensee who in the opinion of the committee is unable to perform physical therapy duties with reasonable skill and safety to patients by reason of illness, inebriation, excessive use of drugs, narcotics, alcohol, chemicals, or other substances, or as a result of any physical or mental condition when it appears that the physical therapy licensee is currently in need of intervention, treatment, or rehabilitation and the licensee has failed or refused to participate in any program of treatment or rehabilitation recommended by the committee. A report to the Alabama Physical Therapy Wellness Committee shall be deemed a report to the board for the purposes of any mandated reporting of physical therapy licensee impairment otherwise provided for by law.
(8) If the board has reasonable cause to believe that a physical therapy licensee is impaired, the board may cause an evaluation of the physical therapy licensee to be conducted by the committee for the purpose of determining if there is an impairment. The committee shall report the findings of its evaluation to the board.