I found this brief description by DOH of some key concepts relating to the process by which the Florida Department of Health disciplines the license of health care professionals. These definitions concisely describe settlement agreements, Informal hearings, formal hearings, and waivers.
From the Department of Health:
Once an Administrative Complaint has been filed against the license of a health care professional regulated by the Department of Health, the licensee is provided an Election of Rights Form that includes three options to choose from to resolve the matter.
1. Settlement Agreement: Pursuant to Section 120.57(4), Florida Statues, the licensee and the appropriate Board may enter in an agreement that resolves a case without the need for a formal hearing. In this situation the Board will hear statements from both parties supporting the proposed settlement. If the Board believes the settlement is appropriate, the Board will accept the settlement agreement and impose its terms against the licensee’s license. If the Board rejects the settlement agreement, it may make a counter-offer to the licensee. If the licensee does not accept the Board’s counter-offer, the licensee may choose to proceed with a hearing at a later date.
2. Informal Hearing: Pursuant to Section 120.57(2), Florida Statues, the licensee may request a Hearing Not Involving Disputed Issues of Material Fact (informal hearing). In this situation the licensee does not dispute the factual allegations of the Administrative Complaint, but is given the opportunity to present evidence to mitigate any penalty or discipline. After hearing the evidence, the Board will determine whether the Respondent should be disciplined and decide what kind of discipline, if any, is appropriate.
3. Formal Hearing: Pursuant to Section 120.57(1), Florida Statues, the licensee may request a Hearing Involving a Disputed Issue of Material Fact (formal hearing). In this situation the licensee has disputed some or all of the facts upon which the Administrative Complaint is based. The case is heard by an Administrative Law Judge at the Division of Administrative Hearings. After presentation of evidence by both the Department and the Respondent, the Administrative Law Judge issues a Recommended Order to the Board. The board will consider the Judge’s recommendation, and any objections or exceptions presented by the Department or the Respondent. In these cases, the Board is restricted to the evidence and record presented during the Formal Hearing, and cannot hear or accept any new evidence. After considering the Recommended Order, the Board will issue a Final Order reflecting their final decision on the case.
4. Waiver: If the Respondent fails to respond to an Administrative Complaint, the case may be heard by the Board as a waiver. Waiver proceedings are identical to Informal Hearings, except that the Respondent does not appear to present any evidence. The Board will review the case and may impose discipline against the Respondent’s license. As the Complainant, you have a right to attend any and all of these public hearings, but you are not required to do so unless called as a witness by the Department or by the Respondent. You have the right to present, within the rules of evidence and the laws of Florida on administrative proceedings, oral or written communication regarding the alleged violation or the penalty the Board may impose.
If you have received an Administrative Complaint against you it is important to seek experienced legal advice before proceeding. I represent licensed health care professionals. More information can be found atwww.floridahealthcareattorney.com . Or contact me at 850-222-7000. The initial consultation is free.