(a) The board may, within its discretion, deny the issuance of a license to any person or, after notice and hearing in accordance with board regulations, shall, within its discretion, suspend, revoke, restrict, or otherwise discipline the license of a person who shall be found guilty on the basis of substantial evidence of any of the following acts or offenses:
(1) Conviction of a felony.
(2) Conviction of any crime or other offense, felony, or misdemeanor, reflecting on the ability of the individual to render patient care in a safe manner.
(3) Conviction of any violation of state or federal laws relating to controlled substances.
(4) Termination, restriction, suspension, revocation, or curtailment of licensure, registration, or certification as an assistant to physician by another state or other licensing jurisdiction on grounds similar to those stated herein.
(5) The denial of a registration, a certification, or a license to practice as an assistant to physician by another state or other licensing jurisdiction.
(6) Being unable to render patient care with reasonable skill and safety by reason of illness, inebriation, addiction to, or excessive use of alcohol, narcotics, chemicals, drugs, or any other substance, or by reason of a mental or physical condition or disability.
(7) Revocation, termination, suspension, or restriction of hospital privileges.
(8) Knowingly submitting or causing to be submitted any false, fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading information to the board in connection with an application for licensure or registration as an assistant to physician.
(9) That the assistant to physician has represented himself or herself or permitted another to represent him or her as a physician.
(10) That the assistant to physician has performed otherwise than at the direction and under the supervision of a physician approved by the board.
(11) That the assistant to physician has been delegated or has performed or attempted to perform tasks and functions beyond his or her competence.
(12) That the assistant to physician has performed or attempted to perform tasks beyond those authorized in the approved job description.
(13) Practicing or permitting another to practice as an assistant to physician without the required license and registration from the board.
(14) Prescribing by an assistant to physician in violation of statutory authority or board rules or guidelines.
(15) Intentional falsification of a certification of compliance with the continuing medical education requirement for assistants to physicians established in the board rules.
(b) As part of any investigation undertaken by the Board of Medical Examiners regarding the denial, suspension, revocation, restriction, or otherwise disciplining of the license of an assistant to physician, the board may require a criminal history background check of the assistant to physician. In such event, the assistant to physician shall submit a complete set of fingerprints to the Board of Medical Examiners. The board shall submit the fingerprints by the assistant to physician to the Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI). The fingerprints shall be forwarded by the ABI to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for a national criminal history record check. Costs associated with conducting a criminal history background check shall be borne by the assistant to physician. The Board of Medical Examiners shall keep information received pursuant to this section confidential except that such information may be disclosed to the assistant to physician.
(c) When the issue is whether or not an assistant to physician is physically or mentally capable of practicing as an assistant to physician with reasonable skill and safety to patients, then, upon a showing of probable cause to the board that the assistant to physician is not capable of practicing as an assistant to physician with reasonable skill and safety to patients, the board may order and direct the assistant to physician in question to submit to a physical, mental, or laboratory examination or any combination of such examinations to be performed by a physician or osteopath designated by the board. The expense of such examination shall be borne by the assistant to physician who is so examined.
(d) Every assistant to physician licensed to practice as an assistant to physician in the State of Alabama who accepts the privilege of practicing as an assistant to physician in the State of Alabama by actually practicing or by the making and filing of an annual registration to practice as an assistant to physician shall be deemed to have given consent to submit to a mental, physical, or laboratory examination or to any combination of such examinations and to waive all objections to the admissibility of the examining physician's testimony or examination reports on the ground that they constitute privileged doctor-patient communications.
(e) Upon receipt of credible information that an assistant to physician in this state has been evaluated or has received inpatient or outpatient treatment for any physical, psychiatric, or psychological illness or for chemical dependency, drug addiction, or alcohol abuse, the board may order that the assistant to physician execute and deliver to the board an authorization and release form directed to each and every facility or treatment provider authorizing and directing the release to the board of any reports of evaluation, mental or physical, or examination, including psychiatric, psychological, and neuropsychiatric examinations, hospital and treatment provider medical records, reports of laboratory tests for the presence of alcohol or drugs, rehabilitation records, or mental competency evaluations. Any and all expenses incurred in the furnishing of the reports, records, or documents which are the subject of an order issued by the board shall be borne by the assistant to physician who is the subject of the order.
(f) Failure or refusal by the assistant to physician to comply with an order of the board directing the execution and delivery to the board of an authorization and release form as provided in subsection (e) shall constitute grounds for the summary suspension of the assistant to physician's license to practice as an assistant to physician by the board, which suspension shall continue in effect until such time as the assistant to physician complies with the order of the board or the order is withdrawn by the board. The provisions of this subsection supersede any provisions of subsection (d) of Section 41-22-19 of the Alabama Administrative Procedure Act that are in conflict.
(g) All reports, records, and documents released to the board under the provisions of subsection (e) are hereby declared to be privileged and confidential and shall not be public records nor available for court subpoena or for discovery proceedings, but may be used by the board in the course of its investigation and may be introduced as evidence in administrative hearings conducted by the board.
(h) Nothing contained herein shall apply to records made in the regular course of business of an individual; documents or records otherwise available from original sources are not to be construed as immune from discovery or use in any civil proceedings merely because they were presented or considered during the proceedings of the State Board of Medical Examiners.