One of the most common problems I see in my practice is the licensed doctor, nurse, dentist, pharmacist, physical therapist, EMT, mental health professional or one of the many other licensed health care professionals who gets into a scrape with the law, enters a plea to a crime and then fails to report it to the Florida Department of Health and their professional board.
The law in this area is crystal clear and states:
456.072 Grounds for discipline; penalties; enforcement.—
(1) The following acts shall constitute grounds for which the disciplinary actions specified in subsection (2) may be taken:
(x) Failing to report to the board, or the department if there is no board, in writing within 30 days after the licensee has been convicted or found guilty of, or entered a plea of nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, a crime in any jurisdiction.
The problem arises when for example a nurse or other licensed professional gets a DUI or maybe is involved in a domestic violence case. They usually hire a local attorney in their home town who practices mainly in the field of criminal law with no experience or knowledge of health care law. Criminal lawyers are generally interested in getting you through the criminal justice system either by way of a plea bargain or jury trial. He or she may have no knowledge of the above law.
When you don’t report to your professional board that you entered into a plea to a crime “in any jurisdiction” it has been my observation that eventually the Department of Health (meaning your professional board) finds out about your criminal case. Then they file what is known as an Administrative Complaint against your license. That’s when my phone rings.
“Why didn’t my criminal lawyer tell me I had to report this plea?”—I am usually asked by a prospective client. My response is usually “He or she is probably not versed in health care regulatory law and doesn’t know what the effect of a plea is on your license.”
If you have received a letter from DOH, an Administrative Complaint, or simply have a question about the effect of a criminal plea on your professional license free to schedule a free no obligation consultation with me by contacting my office and scheduling a telephone conference. Call 850-877-7776.