Fun at the Texas Board of Nursing Meeting #1: Guidelines for Requiring Psychological Evaluations

Yesterday at the quarterly meeting of the Texas Board of Nursing, the Board heard a report from the Advisory Committee on Eligilbility, Licensure and Discipline regarding HB 3961, which created Texas Occupations Code § 301.4521 (part of the Nurse Practice Act).  Previously, the Board had approved guidelines related to the qualifications for evaluators.  Now the board is publishing the guidelines under which the Board will require evaluations.

First, under the statute, the Board has the authority to require an evaluation if there is a objective and reasonable basis (i.e. probable cause) to believe a licensee is unable to safely practice due to a psychological or medical condition or impairment.  Refusal to submit to the evaluation when required by the board will trigger a hearing before the State Office of Administrative Hearings where the Board will request an order from the Administrative Law Judge requiring the evaluation.  Refusal past that point will trigger disciplinary action by the Board.

Additionally, the Board may request (not require!) an evaluation for any other reason if the licensee is before the board for any reason.  Refusal to submit to the evaluation does not trigger the SOAH hearing and subsequent Board action, but may create certain procedural issues, namely creating more difficulty in admitting other evaluations from psychologists on the licensee’s side.

One thing really struck me about the list of potential requested evaluations:  the inclusion of polygraph examinations in forensic psychological exams.  I don’t know what the Board thinks is valuable about polygraph examinations, but I can tell you I advise no one to take a polygraph examination willingly.   The science behind polygraph examinations is thin, at best and they are not accepted by any courts which I am aware of.  Someday I will have to tell the story of the polygraph exam I took back in 1990 when I was entering the Houston Fire Department, but that experience taught me that the value of a polygraph exam was absolutely zero.  And 20 years later they still remain . . .

Marc

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