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Ethics Scenario Archive

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  • 20 May 2024 8:49 AM | Anonymous

    Potential Violation of Ethics Code: Double Billing Concern from Providers  

    Relevant background: “When approving session notes for my child's ABA, I noticed what looked like double billing. Both the newly assigned BCBA and the student analyst (who has been the primary case manager) submitted sessions for the same parent meeting. This meeting did occur, but it is my understanding that only one of them should be billing 97156 for this appointment. However, they both have billed the same code for the same time and date. When I reached out to the organizations billing department, this was the response "They can when one is shadowing, it happens quite often.  And as long as our billed units stay within what our authorization is for, it has not been a problem with Insurances.”

    Possible solutions: “I am looking for confirmation either way before proceeding as I do not feel comfortable signing off these sessions.”

    Credentialing: N/A, reporter is a consumer

    Committee Input (e.g., considerations for pathways forward, potential barriers, potential solutions):

    Disclaimer: The following guidance is based on relevant experience and resources and may differ by payor. This guidance is not intended as legal advice.

    It may be important to consider circumstances in which multiple appointment notes may be submitted to the family for documentation, but billing may only be completed by one provider.  To verify what has been submitted to your funder, review your Explanation of Benefits (EOB) documentation (commercial insurance) to confirm if duplicate billing was submitted. The student analyst model is only allowable in Arizona for AHCCCS plans. AHCCCS plans are not required to supply EOBs, therefore families are recommended to contact member services on the back of your insurance card for specific claim information.

    If both appointments are indeed being billed to your insurance plan, this is an unacceptable use of 97156. Under both the American Medical Association (AMA) CPT® coding description, as well as the National Correct Coding Initiative (NCCI) policy, 97156 is to be billed when a single provider is rendering a service.

    In addition to compliance with all CPT® code descriptions, services rendered should be based on the specific medical necessity needs of the individual receiving the services. Services such as shadowing, training, and employee supervision are considered organizational costs and not allowable justifications for billing any of the CPT® codes to a payor. 

    Therefore, the agency’s statement that it’s acceptable as long as it falls within the authorization is misaligned with policy and legal considerations associated with health plan’s prior authorization processes and therefore may be a direct violation of their payor contract. Additional concerns include speculation that the business is inflating hour requests to cover non-billable activities and/or that the business is taking away the opportunity for medically necessary sessions that are available to the family.

    It is the responsibility of the Licensed Behavior Analyst (assigned as your provider) to ensure compliance with appropriate use of the CPT® codes, as outlined by the payor contract, AMA, CMS and NCCI. Regardless of the organization policies, the Licensed Behavior Analyst, through their provider agreement to participate in a health plan, must comply with all applicable state and federal laws.

    We recommend that the reportee review ARS 32-2091.12 which outlines, “Unprofessional Conduct” to include:

    ·        (a) Obtaining a fee by fraud or misrepresentation;

    ·        (e) Gross negligence in the practice of a behavior analyst; 

    ·        (o) Providing services that are unnecessary or unsafe or otherwise engaging in activities as a behavior analyst that are unprofessional by current standards of practice.

    Considerations for Explorations: 

    It’s recommended that the reportee consider taking the following actions:

    • 1.      As the client representative/caregiver, consider declining consent to allow for the duplicate billing.
    • 2.      Consider gathering additional consumer documentation available to you as it relates to any other potential concerns related to duplicate billing (i.e., EOB, member services) to determine the extent to which this has occurred.
    • 3.      Report the concern and/or any additional findings directly to your child’s specific health plan’s Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotline as soon as possible. This can be done anonymously.
    • 4.      If after you have gathered sufficient information to determine that a violation has occurred, consider filing a complaint with the Arizona Board of Psychologist Examiners. 

    Applicable BACB® Ethics Codes and Arizona Revised Statute (identified by the committee)

    BCBA® Codes:

    1.02 Conforming with Legal and Professional Requirements

    2.01 Providing Effective Treatment

    2.06 Accuracy in Service Billing and Reporting

    2.07 Fees

    3.01 Responsibility to Clients

    3.05 Financial Agreements

    3.12 Advocating for appropriate services

    ARS:

    ARS 32-2091.12 (a) (e) (o)


  • 13 Nov 2023 3:08 PM | Anonymous

    Scenario: Agency director (LBA) resigned at the same time as the only other LBA at the agency. LBA tendered resignation with six weeks’ notice. Following resignation notice, the agency is insisting on LBA submitting prior authorization and completing ABA assessments for new clients. Agency is requesting that the LBA complete assessment and hand off data collected to a future, unspecified behavior analyst to develop treatment recommendations and continued care. No additional BCBAs or LBAs are currently employed or credentialed with funders at the agency.

    Relevant background: The BCBA and director expressed concerns regarding obvious inability to guarantee services for clients given lack of available provider. Agency has also delayed communication with current clients’ families regarding BCBA’s departure and possible disruption of services. Director and BCBA have expressed verbally and in writing the importance of timely notification of families. Agency owner is licensed in another field and has their own ethical code of conduct to uphold.

    Possible solutions: Delay intake of additional clients until new LBA is on board and credentialed as a provider. Refer all waitlist clients to other agencies. Immediately communicate staffing changes to all current clients/families and provide other agency recommendations.

    Credentialing: LBA’s supervisor is not a BCBA and is not bound by BACB ethical code of conduct.

    Committee Input (e.g., considerations for pathways forward, potential barriers, potential solutions):

    Ethics Code 3.03 describes the parameters in which a behavior analyst would accept clients including but not limited to available staffing.  Without a clear pathway for transition personnel identified, and evidence that those personnel have the requisite credentialing, we advise caution in accepting and assessing new clients. 

    Ethics Code 3.04 requires a clear service agreement to be completed before services begin – the service agreement requires the roles and responsibilities of all necessary parties be outlined – it is unclear based on the provided information if that would be possible given the circumstance.  The LBA should exercise caution for new/additional service agreements and ensure that their role is defined clearly, including their exit timeline for the client/stakeholders. 

    Ethics Code 3.16 and 3.13 outline the LBA’s obligation for transitions of care and referrals to other providers = ensuring that families avoid disruptions in services.  This would be the recommendation should no additional behavior analyst be identified in the time available for LBA. 

    Considerations for Explorations: 

    It is recommended that the reportee explore the following steps, if they haven’t been completed to date, including documenting all actions taken and the eventual outcomes:

    • Communicate, per the ECBA, the requirements for client acceptance, service agreements, and transitions of care to agency leadership as mentioned.
    • Educate families on options for other providers, and support navigation/transition, if desired. Consult the Continuity of Services Toolkit provided by the BACB. 
    • The LBA may consider a review of the ethics code/code of conduct subscribed to by organizational leadership and determine if standards relating to assessment, coordination of care, or transition of services are indicated. 

    Applicable Ethics Codes and ARS (identified by the committee)

    • 3.03 Accepting Clients
    • 3.04 Service Agreements
    • 3.13 Referrals
    • 3.16 Appropriately transitioning services
    • ARS 32-2091.12(v)

    Additional Resources:

  • 30 Oct 2023 11:28 AM | Anonymous

    Possible Ethics Issue: “2.15, 2.16, 2.01, 3.01”

    Relevant background: “I was told by an employee of a company that an RBT has been sitting on a client in order to prevent SIB/elopement. CPS has been notified and the employee states that the RBT has been taken off the case. Do I have any obligation to report to the az psychology board if I did not witness the incident?”

    Possible solutions: “Followed up to ensure the client is no longer being harmed, mandated reporter alerted proper authorities.”

    Credentialing: Reporter is an LBA; Supervisor is an LBA

    Committee Input (e.g., considerations for pathways forward, potential barriers, potential solutions):

    The committee agrees with the identified ethics codes by the reportee, particularly 3.01 Responsibility to Clients, which explicitly outlines that behavior analysts do no harm and are bound to always protect the best interests of the client. 

    The Arizona Board of Psychologist Examiners (AZBoPE) do not regulate or have any jurisdiction over RBTs, or their credentialing as such.  However, the reportee has an obligation to report this incident to the BACB who does hold power over the credentialing of the RBT in question. 

    The supervising LBA of this case, is subject to board licensure requirements, particularly ARS 32-2091.12(e) Gross Negligence and 32-2091.12(o) providing services that are unsafe.

    Considerations for Explorations: 

    The reportee should explore the following actions, as soon as possible, in the interests of consumer safety:

    • The reportee, and/or the employee witness, should attempt to contact the LBA who is supervising the case, or if that information is unknown a supervising BCBA at the organization, to alert them that a report is pending, both with the AZBoPE and BACB.  The contact made should provide them with an opportunity to respond with additional actions that have been taken.
    • The reportee and/or employee witness should ensure that the following actions have been taken.  If confirmation does not come from the original supervising LBA and/or organization, the reportee and employee should consider taking the following actions:
      • Support/coach the employee who witnessed the behavior to contact the BACB and file a report of the incident that they witnessed, providing at minimum the RBT certification number.
      • Determine if a report needs to be made to AZBoPE for the supervising LBA per licensure regulations for gross negligence and providing unsafe behavior analytic services.   It may be that the LBA and organization are undertaking appropriate reporting and education to remedy the situation, and in this case an additional report to the AZBoPE may not be necessary. 

    Applicable Ethics Codes and ARS (identified by the committee)

    ECBA Codes:

    2.15, 2.16, 2.01, 3.01

    ARS

    ARS 32-2091.12(e) Gross Negligence; ARS 32-2091.12(o) Providing Unsafe Services  


  • 26 Oct 2023 4:04 PM | Anonymous

    Scenario: Should the BCBA be allowed to practice if we do not know what caused the drop from the insurance? Are there any additional supervision steps that should be taken with this provider?

    Relevant background: We have a BCBA on staff who has been dropped by Medicaid in a state other than AZ which has led to an AZ insurance company also dropping her. What obligations do we have as a company to investigate, and what steps are recommended moving forward. All current clients are in network. The clients affected have been transferred. State license for dropped state is no longer active and BCBA reports they have not practiced in that state in years. Additional steps if any need to be taken to ensure we have done our due diligence?

    Possible solutions: Aftertalking to the BCBA they reported they had no idea and did not know what was going on. We have reached out to state Medicaid that dropped. They will not disclose due to the company not practicing in the state. We have further reached out to AZ based insurance that dropped; they will also not disclose. BCBA does not have any pending investigations etc. that are public.

    Credentialing: Person is a credentialed behavior analyst/LBA

    Committee Input (e.g., considerations for pathways forward, potential barriers, potential solutions):

    Based on provided information, it does not appear that the company has any additional obligations to investigate and is left with the determination of keeping the BCBA on staff.  It would be valuable and responsible for the agency to look through the Medicaid Fraud Registry through the Office of the Inspector General for all current employees.  This resource may be able to provide information on the matter. 

    As far as the BCBA with the claim, there are many regulations that would point to continuing to investigate this matter.

    Ethics code 2.06 describes ethical standards for billing accurately, though the rules and regulations for what is considered “ethical” in terms of who can bill what billing codes varies per insurance contract. It is the BCBA’s responsibility to ensure all billing conducted under their license is occurring according to the accepted standards for that specific insurance company and plan. Ethics code 1.01 explains that BCBAs have an obligation to remain truthful and honest with those involved in their practice, and should make all attempts to conform to professional standards (1.02). This should include standards provided by the insurance companies.

    Arizona Revised Statutes 32-2091 12 outlines “unprofessional conduct” as gross negligence (12e), violating state or federal law (12k), actions in another jurisdiction resulting in censure or probation (12n), and abandoning or neglecting clients without a transition plan (12v).

    It is recommended that the BCBA do the following:

    • Obtain documentation from the insurance company as to why they were dropped as a provider. This information should then be shared freely with the employer. It is possible that this action of transparency would result in the company being unable to retain the BCBA as a provider altogether. For example, if the company only contracts with UHC, for instance, and this provider has been permanently banned as a provider with UHC, this would mean the BCBA may be unable to bring in revenue to support their continued employment. Though this may be a very unwanted outcome for all parties, it is important the employers have this information so they can ensure their clients/families can continue care with a licensed and credentialed provider who is able to provide services within their available resources (i.e. insurance-paid treatment).

    Considerations for Explorations:

    • As the Ethics Code states, BCBAs should remain knowledgeable of requirements from governing entities (funders) and should self-report where relevant.  This should include reporting any fraudulent billing, criminal history or investigations that should be disclosed to the BACB, AZ Board of Psychologist Examiners and funders with which they are attempting to credential.  The Ethics committee believes the BCBA should self-report where necessary to ensure all licensing bodies are aware of any complaints to avoid future misconduct.

    Applicable Ethics Codes and ARS (identified by the committee)

    • 2.06 Accuracy in Service Billing and Reporting
    • 1.01 Being Truthful 
    • 1.02  Conforming with Legal and Professional Requirements
    • 1.16 Self-Reporting Critical Information
    • ARS 32-2091 12. "Unprofessional conduct" includes the following activities, whether occurring in this state or elsewhere: Obtaining a fee by fraud or misrepresentation.
    • ARS 32-2091 12(e) Gross negligence in the practice of a behavior analyst.
    • ARS 32-2091 12 (k) Violating any federal or state law that relates to the practice of behavior analysis or to obtain a license to practice behavior analysis.
    • ARS 32-2091 12 (n) Unprofessional conduct in another jurisdiction that resulted in censure, probation or a civil penalty or in the denial, suspension, restriction or revocation of a certificate or license to practice as a behavior analyst.
    • ARS 32-2091 12 (v) Abandoning or neglecting a client in need of immediate care without making suitable arrangements for continuation of the care.

    Additional Resources:

    • OIG: https://exclusions.oig.hhs.gov/


  • 18 Oct 2023 11:02 AM | Anonymous

    Portal Submission/Scenario

    Possible Ethics Issue: “Transition of Services”

    Relevant background: “Put in a 30 day notice, new bcba starting and can transition my cases over. Employer is forcing me to stay for 90 days due to credentialing.”

    Possible solutions: “Contacted a lawyer, lawyer stated I can leave however wondering if my license would be affected even if I put a 30 day notice in”

    Credentialing: Reporter is “an LBA, I’m not credentialed”, My supervisor is not bound to the BACB Ethics Code (e.g., they are not an LBA, and no other comparable supervisor is an LBA)

    Committee Input (e.g., considerations for pathways forward, potential barriers, potential solutions):

    We recommend that the reportee review ‘Section 3- Responsibility to Clients and Stakeholders’, in the Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts, particularly codes 3.14 Facilitating Continuity of Services and 3.16 Appropriately Transitioning Services for guidance on what to do when leaving an organization and the clients/stakeholders therein.

    We also recommend that the reportee review ARS 32-2091.12(v) (found here: https://www.azleg.gov/ars/32/02091.htm) which outlines, “Unprofessional Conduct” to include, “Abandoning or neglecting a client in need of immediate care without making suitable arrangements for continuation of the care.”

    Considerations for Explorations: 

    There are to our knowledge no specific requirements within the Arizona Licensing Statutes or Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts, for the length of a transition given the many circumstances and variables that exist within our therapeutic environments. 30 Days’ Notice is a field standard of practice that is generally considered to be sufficient to facilitate successful transitions.

    Without more information on what is meant by ‘credentialing’, we can only assume that Funder credentialing is being referred to here.  We are not able to provide detailed guidance on navigating the vast number of funder requirements, and instead encourage the reportee to review the ARS and Ethics Code guidance above.  We affirm that the reportee is not responsible for ensuring the credentialing of a new Behavior Analyst taking their place, but recommend that the reportee take reasonable steps to understand the funder requirements for which they are credentialed and do their best to inform and collaborate accordingly.

    Applicable Ethics Codes and ARS (identified by the committee)

    ECBA Codes:

    3.14 Facilitating Continuity of Services

    3.16 Appropriately Transitioning Services

    ARS

    ARS 32-2091.12(v)

  • 07 Aug 2023 6:27 PM | Anonymous

    Scenario

    An RBT has a court date for a DUI to get the final charges and wants to know if this should be reported to the BACB now or after charges.

    Committee Input (e.g., considerations for pathways forward, potential barriers, potential solutions):

    In accordance with the BACB’s RBT Handbook  (https://www.bacb.com/wpcontent/uploads/2022/01/RBTHandbook_230407-a.pdf), the following would apply as reportable to the Board:

    1. public health and safety tickets, citations, or fines greater than $750 (USD or equivalent) or of any amount if the situation involved or occurred in the presence of a client (page 26).
    2. criminal or civil suits in which you have been found guilty, have entered a plea of no contest, or have otherwise been sanctioned related to a misdemeanor or felony involving public health and safety or the delivery of behavior analytic, health-care, educational, or other human services (this must be reported within 30 days of becoming aware of the criminal or civil suit) (page 26). 
    Once a decision from the court is made, the individual can follow the BACB’s guidance on whether this is reportable or not to the BACB.

    It is advised that the RBT reach out to their supervising BCBA or HR department to discuss potential barriers to completing services and notify them if client sessions will need to be canceled or transitioned to another technician to account for loss of ability to get to/from place of employment.

    Applicable Ethics Codes and ARS (identified by the committee):

    • RBT Ethics Code 2.0 (https://www.bacb.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/RBT-Ethics-Code-230120-a.pdf)
      • 3.04: RBTs are aware of the events they need to self-report to the BACB and any other required entities (e.g., employer, supervisor). They self-report to the BACB within 30 days of the event or within 30 days of becoming aware of the event. RBTs are required to self-report to the BACB any event that might impact their ability to effectively carry out their behavior technician services or comply with BACB requirements, including:  
        • legal charges and subsequent related actions;  
        • investigations by employers, governmental agencies, educational institutions, or third-party payers naming the RBT;  
        • disciplinary actions by employers (including suspensions and terminations for cause), governmental agencies, educational institutions, and third-party payers; OR  
        • physical conditions, mental conditions, or substance abuse that may impair the RBT’s ability to safely provide behavior-technician services. 
    • 1.09:  RBTs are aware that their personal biases or challenges (e.g., mental or physical health conditions; legal, financial, marital/relationship challenges) may impact their ability to effectively carry out their behavior technician services. If their biases or challenges may impact services, they take steps to resolve the issue (e.g., developing an action/care plan, reporting to their supervisor, refraining from working with clients until the issue is resolved, reporting to the BACB) and document these actions.
  • 07 Aug 2023 6:25 PM | Anonymous

    Scenario

    On XXX, the XXX BCBA at XXX instructed the director, the managers, behavior specialists, and paraprofessionals to line up by age; the oldest on the left side of the room and the youngest on the right side of the room. We were then told to talk amongst ourselves to determine who was the oldest/youngest and to line up accordingly. The oldest employee would be positioned in the front of the line and the youngest employee would be at the end of the line. There were between 30-35 employees that were asked to do this. The end result of this Friday-morning exercise was not only humiliating to the oldest employee, but to the youngest one as well. What was the point of this? Our BCBA wanted us to see how diverse we are in age and how our age may be an indication of how we conduct our behavior support to the students.

    Relevant background: The BCBA started in October and replaced previously terminated BCBA 

    Possible solutions: I would like to approach this with HR, but the XXX HR has not been supportive in the past.

    Credentialing: Reporter self- identified as RBT, Supervisor is an LBA 

    Committee Input (e.g., considerations for pathways forward, potential barriers, potential solutions):

    In accordance with the Core Principles of the Ethics Codes under “2. Treat Others with Compassion, Dignity, and Respect”, BCBAs are required to treat others with equality regarding personal identifiers.

    The committee recommends that the reportee review Ethics Codes 1.07 and 1.08, detailing the requirements for certified professionals as it relates to non-discrimination and maintaining an environment that supports diversity. In this situation, it seems that there is a concern with the icebreaker/group activity inappropriately highlighting aspects of the employees’ identities.

    Behavior analysts have a responsibility to do their best to foster a culture of non-discrimination and adequately address concerns when there may be areas to improve upon in the workplace.

    It is recommended that the reportee do the following:

    • Bring their concerns about the activity directly to the facilitator of the event, and discuss what would be helpful in the future for avoiding these types of concerns. It may be helpful to understand that while an activity or situation may appear discriminatory or ill-intentioned by one person, this may not be the perception of all involved. Discussing this with the facilitator would likely be helpful in avoiding this in the future. 
    • If the facilitator is a BCBA, they have an obligation (Codes 1.07 and 1.08) to attempt to foster a non-discriminatory environment and avoid future activities in which activities could be perceived in this light to the fullest extent possible. 
    • If this level of clear communication with the facilitator does not result in a ceasing of this type of activity, it is less so an issue that pertains to the Ethics Code and more so an issue of personal preference/comfort level. Attempting to bring this up with HR may be helpful if a mediator between parties is necessary to maintain a supportive employee/employer relationship (if that is what the relationship is in this situation). 
    • If this is a non-required activity that is not breaking ethical codes but is uncomfortable to this person, it may be best for the reportee to simply opt out of participation in the activity and alert the facilitator the purpose if necessary. 

    Considerations for exploration:

    This may or may not have been intended to highlight age as a defining factor in a staff member’s ability to conduct their job responsibilities. While it may have come off as a “distasteful” activity to some, it does not seem to overtly contradict an ethics code requirement. Further inquiry is recommended on the part of the reportee to address the concerns with the person in charge of developing/facilitating the activity.

    Applicable Ethics Codes and ARS (identified by the committee):

    • 1.07 Cultural Responsiveness and Diversity
    • 1.08 Nondiscrimination
  • 07 Aug 2023 6:21 PM | Anonymous

    Scenario

    Is person studying for and writing their BCBA exam multiple times still held to the ethical codes during this time?

    Relevant background: This person frequently billed, solicited clients and therapists, and provided services while unsupervised.

    Possible solutions: Submitted complaint to AZ psych board but they didn’t have jurisdiction.

    Credentialing: Person is not a credentialed behavior analyst

    Committee Input (e.g., considerations for pathways forward, potential barriers, potential solutions):

    The Ethics committee acknowledges that a supervisee in question is not a BCBA, and thus the State Licensing Board and Behavior Analyst Certification Board do not have jurisdiction. In the case that there is an Ethics violation, the board would hold the Licensed Behavior Analyst overseeing the supervisee as the person responsible to answer to the board(s).  As for all behavior analytic services provided in the state of Arizona, supervisees are required to practice under a licensed, Board Certified Behavior Analyst.  This BCBA has the responsibility to ensure the supervisee is providing ethical and competent services.

    In accordance with BACB guidance regarding possible complaints, it is recommended that the author of this complaint reach out to the supervisee to discuss potential violations as well as reaching out to the BACB overseeing the supervisee.  If the overseeing BCBA is not readily known, it is advised that the author reach out to the highest BCBA in leadership to determine who should be involved in remedying the complaint areas.

    • Regarding the billing aspect of this complaint, it is advised to reach out to the supervising BCBA to determine if a billing violation occurred. Depending on the funder and service contract, some codes are allowed to be billed without the presence of an overseeing LBA. 
    • Regarding soliciting clients, more information would be needed to determine if this is a potential violation. Solicitation itself would not be a violation unless testimonials are being requested from clients or personal information is being disclosed (HIPAA violation). Solicitation of clients and therapists from other companies may be considered “bad practice” but are not considered ethical violations. 
    • Regarding providing services while not under the supervision of an LBA, this may be allowable depending on the funder. The supervisee should be following guidance for ongoing supervision per Board standards and should not be prescribing treatment without direct/indirect supervision. 
      • This may be a complaint for the supervising BCBA under 4.01 Compliance with Supervision Requirements, 4.04 Accountability in Supervision and 4.06 Providing Supervision and Training and A.R.S. 32-2091 12(e), and 32-2091 12(y). 

    Considerations for exploration:

    The committee would encourage the author to explore the following steps as options; this should not be considered legal employment advice:
    1. Formally address your concerns with the supervising BCBA and supervisee to ensure they are aware of the ethical requirements on supervision.  Provide suggestions to them on ways in which they can support BCBAs in your agency that are more conducive to best practices in supervision and quality care for clients.
      1. Documentation of concerns can provide protection against wrongful termination and provides a clear statement for follow-up.
    2. If meaningful change is not made to satisfy the ethical code of conduct, the author should consider sending their letter to the Arizona Board of Psychologist Examiners and Behavior Analyst Certification Board regarding the supervising BCBA.
      1. Establish if fraudulent billing occurred based on funder requirements; self-disclose errors with funders if necessary.

    Applicable Ethics Codes and ARS (identified by the committee)

    • 2.06 Accuracy in Service Billing and Reporting 
    • 4.01 Compliance with Supervision Requirements 
    • 4.04 Accountability in Supervision 
    • 4.06 Providing Supervision and Training 
    • 5.07 Soliciting Testimonials from Current Clients for Advertising 
    • A.R.S. 32-2091 12(e), and 32-2091 12(y)
  • 07 Aug 2023 6:16 PM | Anonymous

    Scenario

    “Last October, I had two individuals resign with less than 24 hours’ notice, who were collecting BACB supervision hours towards their BCBA application with me as their primary supervisor. After resigning, they left their monthly verification forms with me to sign. Since their last day, I have not signed their hours and have been thinking over if they would competently and ethically work in the field. I cannot in good conscious sign off on their hours with the thought they might leave other clients overnight without a transition plan. Previously, the supervisees were in breach of the supervision contract because they were not sending in their verification hours on time.  Prior to leaving, their supervision hours log had multiple errors, as they failed to maintain feedback for their logs; but 3 weeks after resigning they sent me their most updated logs which matched with the hours on their monthly forms dropped off day after resignation.” 

    Committee Input (e.g., considerations for pathways forward, potential barriers, potential solutions):

    The codes in question listed by the submitter were: 3.01 Responsibility to Clients and 3.16 Appropriately Transitioning Services.  These code violations appear to be concerns only after the supervision was terminated, so may not apply to the question of signing off on monthly verification forms.

    Per BACB Fieldwork Requirements, all monthly fieldwork verification forms are required to be signed by the end of the following calendar month (linked below).  Any hours accrued by the supervisees in question that have not been signed off will be considered forfeited.

    • If there are breaches in contract, or inappropriate behavior exhibited during the supervisory period, the BACB requires the supervisor to provide feedback as well as documentation of training and/or re-training during the supervision period. 
    • There does not seem to be an instance in which the BACB approves withholding signatures from monthly verification forms for breaches in administrative duties (turning paperwork in late). 
    • If some forms were signed (even when turned in late) prior to resignation, this failure to sign verification forms gathered after resignation may be seen as retaliatory in nature. 
    • If the supervisee(s) engaged in dangerous behavior during the supervision period that required mandated reporting (abuse, neglect, etc), a police report and/or report to the BACB for misconduct is required and refusal to sign monthly verification forms may be considered appropriate. 
    As far as lack of timeliness transitioning case(s), the BACB does not consider RBTs or supervisees to be independent practitioners that are responsible for their own caseloads. Therefore, although this may be an employment contract violation, it is not considered to be an ethics violation of client abandonment.  Without knowledge of what the exact role of the supervisees were in, they may or may not be in a position to be in violation of the ethics code. 

    If there is concern, the committee encourages the submitter to look through the BACB’s guidance on considerations for filing a complaint (linked below). If there is a concern about the overall performance of the supervisee(s) after documented training and feedback occurred OR if violations are found after the supervisee(s) left the facility, the BCBA can also follow guidance to contest the Final Verification Form outlined in the August 2019 newsletter (linked below).

    Considerations for exploration:

    • If the BCBA did not respond to requests to sign off on verification forms in a timely manner, they may be in violation of Ethics Code 1.15 Responding to Requests, 4.01 Compliance with Supervision Requirements, 4.04 Accountability in Supervision, and 05 Maintaining Supervision Documentation.
    • The committee acknowledges that any breach in the BACB Ethics Code is reportable to the Arizona State Licensure Board. The Committee would encourage the reportee to explore filing a complaint with the licensure board against themselves under the guidance of 1.16 Self-Reporting Critical Information. 
    • If the supervisees did commit a violation of the Ethics code, it is suggested that the BCBA first reaches out to the party responsible before filing a complaint with the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. 

    Ethics Codes (specific standards that could apply to support/oppose):

    • 1.15 
    • 1.16 
    • 3.15 
    • 3.16 
    • 4.01 
    • 4.04 
    • 4.05 
    • 4.08 
    • A.R.S. 32-2091 12(e)/12(q)/12(v) 
    Additional Resources:
  • 07 Aug 2023 6:13 PM | Anonymous

    Scenario

    “Clinical director wants BCBA to take on cases that are fully Spanish speaking with the help of an interpreter. The child speaks no English and programming would need to be done in Spanish – this is out of the scope of the BCBA who speaks English only.”

    Committee Input (e.g., considerations for pathways forward, potential barriers, potential solutions):

    Although the Arizona community includes many families that are non-English speaking, there is not an equal amount of access to services that are offered and implemented in the family’s native language.  If there is not a provider in your organization who speaks the client’s native language (Spanish), it is recommended that the BCBA accept the client with the following accommodations/consideration for exploration:

    • Specific funders require that access to interpreters is provided to non-native English-speaking families and some funders do not specifically require this. 
    • Depending on the funding source, there may be a limited number of providers who have ABA services available, and even fewer that have immediate openings and also providers who speak the client’s native language. 
    • The Ethics Committee recommends, in alignment with BACB standards, that if there are no available providers at the agency who accept a family’s funding and speak the client’s native language, that an interpreter be requested to attend all client sessions. Not only is it important that the family understands what the BCBA is saying, but they should also be able to communicate with the client’s technician. Additionally, providing documentation in the native language (i.e., Spanish) is a best practice standard to ensure that families understand the services and treatment being offered. 
    • Along with the necessity of communicating through the language barrier, it is also important to recognize differences in cultural practices. A funder-assigned or agency-contracted interpreter may help with this, or the family may have a community member who is willing to attend sessions to translate and assist in navigating circumstances that are too nuanced to translate vocally alone. 
    Additional Considerations:
    • If the agency accepts this client, there should be no cost associated with the interpretation service. 
    • If an interpreter is utilized, they should be certified to provide medical translation services to outline ABA treatment procedures and medical necessity criteria. 
    • If an interpreter is utilized, they should sign nondisclosure agreements to ensure the privacy of client information. 

    In summary, failure to (1) provide culturally competent care or (2) to demonstrate clear communication for the consent/assent of treatment due to a language barrier, are potentially reportable offences to the BACB. More information would be needed in the above submission to provide more explicit pathways for exploration.  We would encourage the person who submitted this concern to flush out the context and provide additional details if additional guidance is needed. 

    Ethics Codes (specific standards that could apply to support/oppose):

    • 2.01 Providing Effective Treatment 
    • 2.04 Disclosing Confidential Information 
    • 2.08 Communicating About Services 
    • 2.19 Addressing Conditions Interfering with Service Delivery 
    • 3.03 Accepting Clients 
    • 3.06 Consulting with Other Providers
    • 3.09 Communicating with Stakeholders About Third-Party Contracted Services 
    • 3.12 Advocating for Appropriate Services 
    • 4.01 Compliance with Supervision Requirements 
    • 4.02 Supervisory Competence 
    • 4.04 Accountability in Supervision 
    • 4.06 Providing Supervision and Training 
    • 4.09 Delegation of Tasks 
    • 4.10 Evaluating Effects of Supervision and Training 
    • A.R.S. 23-2091 12(c)/12(g)
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Arizona Association for Behavior Analysis
1800 E. Ray Road, Suite 106, Chandler, AZ 85225 | 480-893-6110 | arizonaaba@gmail.com

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