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«U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Program Support Center Human Resources Service Division of Commissioned Personnel 5600 Fishers Lane, ...»

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A grievance is a request by a commissioned officer for personal relief in a matter of concern or dissatisfaction (such as working environment or working relationships with supervisors, other employees or officials) which is subject to the control of PHS management. Situations that result from actions mandated by statute, regulations or stated PHS policy are covered only when the actions taken were capricious, arbitrary or not in consonance with applicable law, regulations or policy. Officers detailed to another program outside of the control of HHS (e.g., Coast Guard, Bureau of Prisons, etc.) must use the grievance procedures for that program.

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Grievances must be submitted in writing within the time limits established. They must state concisely the facts of the matter or incidents giving rise to the grievance and specify the personal remedy sought. Officers should note that a request for a disciplinary action against another individual is not considered a personal remedy.

A grievance in most instances involves an action or situation under the control of OPDIV management. The proper focus of the grievance is within the OPDIV, and an OPDIV manager can be the final deciding official. DCP is not usually involved in these grievances.

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The initial presentation of a grievance must be made to the supervisor within 7 working days of the incident or action giving rise to the grievance. The supervisor then has 10 working days to respond. If the initial decision is not satisfactory, the officer has 10 working days to submit the grievance to the next higher level. If the result of secondary presentation is unsatisfactory, the officer has 15 working days to submit the grievance to the official designated to review the final appeal.


It is the policy of the Commissioned Corps of the PHS to provide equal employment opportunity to all qualified health professionals, to prevent discrimination in employment because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, and to resolve or adjudicate promptly and fairly any allegations of prohibited discrimination. A recent decision indicated that commissioned officers of the PHS are entitled to Title VII rights.

Any commissioned corps officer who believes he/she has been discriminated against should contact his/her OPDIV EEO officer or the EEO officer in the program to which the officer is detailed.


Personnel records provide information used to issue personnel orders. These orders give legal force and effect to all aspects of an officer's career, such as pay, allowances, promotions, assignments and other related conditions of service. If a personnel order is based on erroneous information, it may result in loss or overpayment of Federal funds, violation of Federal or State law, or jeopardy to the PHS mission or to the integrity of the personnel system.

The Comptroller General has ruled consistently that no personnel order may be amended, canceled, or revoked retroactively to either increase or decrease vested rights of government personnel. The Comptroller General has identified certain exceptions to this rule. The exceptions for retroactive changes apply if the original order has an obvious error or if a provision which was definitely intended for inclusion has been omitted through error.

1. DCP Correction

DCP will correct a personnel record when the evidence supporting the correction is found acceptable and the correction is justified. DCP is not required to correct a record at this stage if DCP believes the record to be correct and finds that the evidence supporting the request for correction is not convincing. An officer seeking to correct a record should submit a request in writing to DCP, with supporting documentation, asking that a record be corrected. DCP will review the request, change the record if appropriate, or notify the officer of the reason that the record cannot or will not be corrected.

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An officer must exhaust all effective administrative remedies and such legal remedies as the board may determine are practice and appropriately available to the officer before the officer may submit an application to the Board for Correction of PHS Commissioned Corps Records.

Administrative remedies include, but are not limited to grievances, EEO complaint procedures, and appeals to the Comptroller General. The heirs, guardians, or executors of an officer or his/her estate may also make application for correction of a record if the officer is unable to act on his/her own behalf.

The Board for Correction of PHS Commissioned Corps Records is administered by civilian officials. The Board members must not be commissioned officers and the Board is administratively removed from DCP to ensure fairness and avoid bias in Board deliberations.

The Board for Correction of PHS Commissioned Corps Records has the authority to require correction of a record and to authorize any financial correction necessary as a result of the Board's decision that there was an error or injustice.

To apply to the Board, an applicant must first make a written request for correction of a record pursuant to INSTRUCTION 1, Subchapter CC49.9, CCPM, INSTRUCTION 5, Subchapter CC29.9, CCPM, and the General Administration Manual, PHS Chapter 16-00. The application should be on form PHS-6190, "Application to the Board for Correction of Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Records." Information about the appropriate format to use and copies of form PHS-6190 may be obtained from Executive Secretary, Board for Correction of PHS Commissioned Corps Records, Room 17-03, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857The telephone number is (301) 443-6268. Private counsel may assist in the preparation of materials to submit to the Board and in the presentation of evidence if the Board decides to convene a hearing. The expense of obtaining counsel is the responsibility of the applicant. The Board lacks the authority to grant attorney fees.

The Board may decide to act on the request based solely on the information provided, to request more information, or to convene a hearing to discover additional information about the error or injustice. The Board may refuse to consider the request because insufficient substantiating information was provided, effective relief cannot be granted by the Board, the Board does not have jurisdiction to determine the matters presented, or the time in which application may be made has expired and the interest of justice does not require its acceptance.

Regardless of the decision, the applicant will be notified by the Board of its decision about the case.

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PHS Claims Office Pamphlet (Phone: (301) 443-1905):


“Medical Malpractice Claims: A Guide for PHS Health Care Professionals”

----------------------------------------------------------------A. PURPOSE INSTRUCTION 6, Subchapter 29.9, CCPM, explains the protection provided by the government in the defense of suits filed against officers or employees when the alleged incident occurred while the officer was acting within the scope of his/her office or employment.

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PHS commissioned officers are afforded protection against malpractice claims by several provisions of Federal law as set forth in 42 U.S.C. 233 and 28 U.S.C. 2671-2680. The statutes provide broad protection with respect to claims for damages for personal injury, including death, resulting from the performance of medical, surgical, dental, or related functions, including the conduct of clinical studies or investigations and other activities performed by PHS officers while acting within the scope of their office or employment.

The key point to remember is that officers are covered for actions that occur within the scope of their assignment. Therefore, it behooves all officers to know the scope of their duties and responsibility.

Officers should make sure that their billets reference any clinical responsibilities that have been assigned as part of their official duties.

It should be noted that outside work activities are not covered by Federal malpractice statutes even if an officer has been given permission to engage in such activities.


When served with a professional liability claim, officers must immediately contact their supervisors and the Chief, Litigation Branch, Business and Administrative Law Division, Office of the General Counsel, HHS, Room 5362, Cohen Building, 330 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20201. The telephone number is (202) 619-2155. Attorneys in the Litigation Branch will advise officers about how claims will be handled and what documents need to be forwarded to the Office of the General Counsel.

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PHS policy requires that health care providers possess and maintain current, unrestricted license/certification appropriate to their profession. INSTRUCTION 4, Subchapter CC26.1, CCPM, "Professional Licensure/Certification Requirements for Health Care Providers in the Public Health Service," details the requirements for licensure and certification.

The policy outlines the specific license/certification requirements for each of the following PHS health

care providers:

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Certification or Registration:


SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGISTS (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) !

AUDIOLOGISTS (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) !

DIETITIANS/NUTRITIONISTS (Commission of Dietetic Registration) !

PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS (certification by National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants) !

MEDICAL RECORD ADMINISTRATION (American Medical Record Association) !

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS (American Occupational Therapy Association) A copy of the current, unrestricted license/certification with the expiration date and the officer's PHS serial number clearly visible in the lower right-hand corner should be sent to the Licensure Technician in DCP for data entry and inclusion in the officer's OPF. To verify receipt and data entry, officers can phone CorpsLine at (301) 443-6843 (please allow a minimum of 2 weeks for processing).

DCP does not notify officers that their license/certificate is about to expire. Officers are responsible for ensuring that they are in compliance with the requirements of their licensure/certification issuing authority. Officers can determine which professional license, registration, or certification is maintained in the DCP database by calling CorpsLine. Officers are expected to assume the financial cost of maintaining their professional license; PHS does not pay for licensure exams, renewals, or the continuing education required to maintain licensure.

Failure to comply with this policy can result in sanctions ranging from a letter of reprimand placed in the OPF, not being considered for temporary promotion, to involuntary separation from active duty.

Officers who are not required by PHS policy to maintain licensure or certification, such as engineers and sanitarians, may voluntarily submit a copy of a State or national license or professional certification for inclusion in their OPF.

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INSTRUCTION 4, Subchapter CC23.3, CCPM, "Appointment Standards and Appointment Boards," provides for a limited tour of duty appointment upon call to active duty to allow officers a specified period of time to obtain appropriate license/certification.

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Continuing education in a health field is the term used when referring to an educational program designed to update the knowledge and skills of its participants. Continuing education and licensure are often linked by the various State regulatory bodies.

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