In order to maintain and enhance the credibility of the certification program, the Certification Council has adopted the following procedures to allow individuals to bring complaints concerning the conduct of individuals who are certification holders or candidates for certification to the Certification Council.
In the event an individual candidate or certification holder violates the Code of Conduct, certification rules, or certification program policies, the Certification Council may reprimand or suspend the individual or may revoke certification.
The grounds for sanctions under these procedures may include but are not necessarily limited to:
- Violation of the Code of Conduct;
- Violation of established certification policies, rules and requirements;
- Conviction of a felony or other crime of moral turpitude under federal or state law in a matter related to the practice of or qualifications for Sterile Processing;
- Gross negligence, willful misconduct, or other unethical conduct in the performance of services for which the individual has achieved certification from HSPA; or
- Fraud or misrepresentation in an initial application or renewal application for certification.
Information regarding the complaint process will be available to the public without request via the HSPA website and/or other published documents. A complete copy of this policy will be published.
Actions taken under this policy do not constitute enforcement of the law, although referral to appropriate federal, state, or local government agencies may be made about the conduct of the candidate or certification holder in appropriate situations. Individuals initially bringing complaints are not entitled to any relief or damages by virtue of this process, although they will receive notice of the actions taken.
Complaints may be submitted by any individual or entity. Complaints should be reported to the Director of Certification in writing and should include the name of the person submitting the complaint, the name of the person the complaint is regarding along with other relevant identifying information, a detailed description of factual allegations supporting the charges, and any other relevant supporting documentation. Information submitted during the complaint and investigation process is considered confidential and will be handled in accordance with the Certification Council’s confidentiality policy. Inquiries or submissions other than complaints may be reviewed and handled by the Certification Council or its staff members at its discretion.
Upon receipt and preliminary review of a complaint involving a certification holder, the Director of Certification in consultation with the Certification Council Chair may conclude, in their sole discretion, that the submission:
- Contains unreliable or insufficient information, or
- Is patently frivolous or inconsequential.
In such cases, the Director of Certification and Certification Council Chair may determine that the submission does not constitute a valid and actionable complaint that would justify bringing it before the Certification Council for investigation and a determination of whether there has been a violation of substantive requirements of the certification process. If so, the submission is disposed of by notice from the Director of Certification and Chair to its submitter, if the submitter is identified. All such preliminary dispositions by the Chair are reported to the Certification Council at its next meeting.
This preliminary review to determine if the complaint is valid and actionable will be conducted within 30 calendar days of receipt of the complaint.
If a submission is deemed by the Chair to be a valid and actionable complaint, the Chair shall see that written notice is provided to the candidate/certification holder whose conduct has been called into question. The candidate/certification holder whose conduct is at issue shall also be given the opportunity to respond to the complaint. The Chair shall also ensure that the individual submitting the complaint receives notice that the complaint is being reviewed by the Certification Council.
For each complaint that the Chair concludes is a valid and actionable complaint, the Certification Council authorizes an investigation into its specific facts or circumstances to whatever extent is necessary in order to clarify, expand or corroborate the information provided by the submitter.
The Chair refers the complaint to the Review Committee to investigate and make an appropriate determination with respect to each such valid and actionable complaint. The Review Committee initially determines whether it is appropriate to review the complaint under these Procedures or whether the matter should be referred to another entity engaged in the administration of law. The timeline for responses and for providing any additional information shall be established by the Review Committee. The review and investigation will be completed in an appropriate amount of time, not to exceed 6 months, unless there are extenuating circumstances that require an extended time period. The Review Committee may be assisted in the conduct of its investigation by HSPA staff or legal counsel. The Certification Council Chair exercises general supervision over all investigations.
Both the individual submitting the complaint and the candidate/certification holder who is the subject of the investigation (or his or her employer) may be contacted for additional information with respect to the complaint. The Review Committee, or the Certification Council on its behalf, may at its discretion contact such other individuals who may have knowledge of the facts and circumstances surrounding the complaint.
All investigations and deliberations of the Review Committee and the Certification Council are conducted in confidence, with all written communications sealed and marked “Personal and Confidential,” and they are conducted objectively, without any indication of prejudgment. An investigation may be directed toward any aspect of a complaint that is relevant or potentially relevant. Formal hearings are not held and the parties are not expected to be represented by counsel, although the Review Committee and Certification Council may consult their own counsel.
Upon completion of an investigation, the Review Committee recommends whether the Certification Council should make a determination that there has been a violation of HSPA Certification Council policies and rules. When the Review Committee recommends that the Certification Council find a violation, the Review Committee also recommends the imposition of an appropriate sanction. If the Review Committee so recommends, a proposed determination with a proposed sanction is prepared under the supervision of the Chair and is presented by a representative of the Review Committee to the Certification Council along with the record of the Review Committee’s investigation.
If the Review Committee recommends against a determination that a violation has occurred, the complaint is dismissed with notice to the candidate/certification holder, the candidate/certification holder’s employer, the individual or entity who submitted the complaint, and the HSPA Executive Board.
The Certification Council reviews the recommendation of the Review Committee based upon the record of the investigation. The Certification Council may accept, reject or modify the Review Committee’s recommendation, either with respect to the determination of a violation or the recommended sanction to be imposed. If the Certification Council makes a determination that a violation has occurred, this determination and the imposition of a sanction are promulgated by written notice to the candidate/certification holder, and to the individual submitting the complaint, if the submitter agrees in advance and in writing to maintain in confidence whatever portion of the information is not made public by the Certification Council.
In certain circumstances, the Certification Council may consider a recommendation from the Review Committee that the candidate/certification holder who has violated the certification program policies or rules should be offered an opportunity to submit a written assurance that the conduct in question has been terminated and will not recur. The decision of the Review Committee to make such a recommendation and of the Certification Council to accept it are within their respective discretionary powers. If such an offer is extended, the candidate/certification holder at issue must submit the required written assurance within thirty days of receipt of the offer, and the assurance must be submitted in terms that are acceptable to the Certification Council. If the Certification Council accepts the assurance, notice is given to the candidate/certification holder’s employer and to the submitter of the complaint, if the submitter agrees in advance and in writing to maintain the information in confidence.
Any of the following sanctions may be imposed by the Certification Council upon a candidate/certification holder whom the Certification Council has determined to have violated the policies and rules of its certification program(s), although the sanction applied must reasonably relate to the nature and severity of the violation, focusing on reformation of the conduct of the individual and deterrence of similar conduct by others:
- Written reprimand to the candidate/certification holder;
- Suspension of the certification holder for a designated period; or
- Suspension of the candidate’s application eligibility for a designated period; or
- Termination of the certification holder’s certification; or
- Termination of the candidate’s application eligibility for a designated period.
For sanctions that include suspension or termination, a summary of the final determination and the sanction with the candidate/certification holder’s name and date is published by the Certification Council. This information will be published only after any appeal has either been considered or the appeal period has passed.
Reprimand in the form of a written notice from the Chair typically is sent to a candidate/certification holder who has received his or her first substantiated complaint. Suspension typically is imposed on a candidate/certification holder who has received two substantiated complaints. Termination typically is imposed on a candidate/certification holder who has received two substantiated complaints within a two-year period, or three or more substantiated complaints. The Certification Council may at its discretion, however, impose any of the sanctions, if warranted, in specific cases.
Certificants who have been terminated shall have their certification revoked and shall not be considered for certification in the future. If certification is revoked, any and all certificates or other materials requested by the Certification Council must be returned promptly to the Certification Council.
Within 30 days from receipt of notice of a determination by the Certification Council that a candidate/certification holder violated the certification program policies and/or rules, the affected candidate/certification holder may submit to the Certification Council Chair in writing a request for an appeal. Any candidate/certification holder receiving such an adverse decision will receive a copy of this policy along with notification of the appeal period.
Upon receipt of a request for appeal, the Chair of the Certification Council establishes an appellate body consisting of at least three but not more than five individuals. This Appeal Committee may review one or more appeals, upon request of the Chair. No current members of the Review Committee or the Certification Council may serve on the Appeal Committee; further, no one with any personal involvement or conflict of interest may serve on the Appeal Committee.
The Appeal Committee may only review whether the determination by the Certification Council of a violation of the certification program policies and/or rules was inappropriate because of:
- Material errors of fact, or
- Failure of the Review Committee or the Certification Council to conform to published criteria, policies, or procedures.
Only facts and conditions up to and including the time of the Certification Council’s determination as represented by facts known to the Certification Council are considered during an appeal. The appeal shall not include a hearing or any similar trial-type proceeding. Legal counsel is not expected to participate in the appeal process unless requested by the appellant and approved by the Certification Council and the Appeal Committee. The Certification Council and Appeal Committee may consult legal counsel.
The Appeal Committee conducts and completes the appeal within ninety days after receipt of the request for an appeal. Written appellate submissions and any reply submissions may be made by authorized representatives of the member and of the Certification Council. Submissions are made according to whatever schedule is reasonably established by the Appeal Committee. The decision of the Appeal Committee either affirms or overrules the determination of the Certification Council, but does not address a sanction imposed by the Certification Council. The Appeal Committee will confirm receipt of all communications, including the initial appeal, and will provide notice to the appellant of the end of the appeals-handling process.
The Appeal Committee decision is binding upon the Certification Council, the candidate/certification holder who is subject to the termination, and all other persons.
If a certification holder who is the subject of a complaint voluntarily surrenders his or her certification at any time during the pendency of a complaint under these Procedures, the complaint is dismissed without any further action by the Review Committee, the Certification Council, or an Appeal Committee established after an appeal. The entire record is sealed and the individual may not reapply for HSPA certification. However, the Certification Council may authorize the Chair to communicate the fact and date of resignation, and the fact and general nature of the complaint that was pending at the time of the resignation, to or at the request of a government entity engaged in the administration of law. Similarly, in the event of such resignation, the certification holder’s employer and the person or entity who submitted the complaint are notified of the fact and date of resignation and that Certification Council has dismissed the complaint as a result.