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Are you being investigated as a nurse for failing to provide patients with information on their rights to file complaints?

September 7, 2015
Est read time: 6 minutes
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Have you received an administrative complaint from the Board of Nursing against your license alleging you failed to provide patients with information on their rights and how to file complaints? If you have, it is very important that you contact an experienced health care attorney to go over the charges. These charges are serious and can have a negative impact on your license and your ability to practice nursing in Florida.

The Law

The law states that patients have certain rights. The law also states that it is a violation of the law to fail to provide patients with information about their patient rights and how to file a patient complaint should they have one. The Florida law on point here is Florida Statute 456.072(1)(u). The statute specifically says:

(1) The following acts shall constitute grounds for which the disciplinary actions specified in subsection (2) may be taken:

(u) Failing to comply with the requirements of ss. 381.026 and 381.0261 to provide patients with information about their patient rights and how to file a patient complaint.

Florida Statutes 381.026 and 381.0261 are the Florida Patient’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. If you wish to review the main statute, it will be provided at the end of this entry. For your purposes, it is important that you provide patients with information concerning these rights and with the process of filing a patient complaint. Failure to do these things constitutes a violation of the law and could lead to charges against your license. If you have had charges made against your license for violation of this statute, you should contact an experienced health care attorney immediately to go over your options. There can be severe repercussions for you if you wait.

Here's a summary of Florida's Patient's Bill of Rights and Responsibilities - Florida Statute 381.026:

Florida law requires that your health care provider or health care facility recognize your rights while you are receiving medical care and that you respect the health care provider’s or health care facility’s right to expect certain behavior on the part of patients. You may request a copy of the full text of this law from your health care provider or health care facility. A summary of your rights and responsibilities follows:

  • A patient has the right to be treated with courtesy and respect, with appreciation of his or her individual dignity, and with protection of his or her need for privacy.
  • A patient has the right to a prompt and reasonable response to questions and requests.
  • A patient has the right to know who is providing medical services and who is responsible for his or her care.
  • A patient has the right to know what patient support services are available, including whether an interpreter is available if he or she does not speak English.
  • A patient has the right to know what rules and regulations apply to his or her conduct.
  • A patient has the right to be given by the health care provider information concerning diagnosis, planned course of treatment, alternatives, risks, and prognosis.
  • A patient has the right to refuse any treatment, except as otherwise provided by law.
  • A patient has the right to be given, upon request, full information and necessary counseling on the availability of known financial resources for his or her care.
  • A patient who is eligible for Medicare has the right to know, upon request and in advance of treatment, whether the health care provider or health care facility accepts the Medicare assignment rate.
  • A patient has the right to receive, upon request, prior to treatment, a reasonable estimate of charges for medical care.
  • A patient has the right to receive a copy of a reasonably clear and understandable, itemized bill and, upon request, to have the charges explained.
  • A patient has the right to impartial access to medical treatment or accommodations, regardless of race, national origin, religion, handicap, or source of payment.
  • A patient has the right to treatment for any emergency medical condition that will deteriorate from failure to provide treatment.
  • A patient has the right to know if medical treatment is for purposes of experimental research and to give his or her consent or refusal to participate in such experimental research.
  • A patient has the right to express grievances regarding any violation of his or her rights, as stated in Florida law, through the grievance procedure of the health care provider or health care facility which served him or her and to the appropriate state licensing agency.
  • A patient is responsible for providing to the health care provider, to the best of his or her knowledge, accurate and complete information about present complaints, past illnesses, hospitalizations, medications, and other matters relating to his or her health.
  • A patient is responsible for reporting unexpected changes in his or her condition to the health care provider.
  • A patient is responsible for reporting to the health care provider whether he or she comprehends a contemplated course of action and what is expected of him or her.
  • A patient is responsible for following the treatment plan recommended by the health care provider.
  • A patient is responsible for keeping appointments and, when he or she is unable to do so for any reason, for notifying the health care provider or health care facility.
  • A patient is responsible for his or her actions if he or she refuses treatment or does not follow the health care provider’s instructions.
  • A patient is responsible for assuring that the financial obligations of his or her health care are fulfilled as promptly as possible.
  • A patient is responsible for following health care facility rules and regulations affecting patient care and conduct.

Penalties

There are a range of actions that can be taken against you should the board of nursing decide to take disciplinary action against you. The penalties you could face are found in the Disciplinary Guidelines for the Board of Nursing, particularly in Rule 64B9-8.006 in the Florida Administrative Code. The rule states the following for disciplinary guidelines for violation of the statute:

MINIMUM:MAXIMUM:
FIRST OFFENSE:$100 fine and continuing education$250 fine and probation
SECOND OFFENSE:$500 fine and probation$500 fine and suspension

The minimum penalty under the guidelines calls for you receiving a $100 fine and having to go through continuing education. Be careful here as failing to complete continuing education requirements can lead to more discipline being taken against your license. For more information on continuing education requirements, please visit the blog post on our website with the information. The maximum penalties under the guidelines call for a $500 fine and suspension of your license. This is very serious. You should also be aware that these are guidelines that the board should follow in handing out discipline, but are not set in stone, and can be accompanied by other penalties or deviated from. These penalties can be found in Florida Statute 456.072(2), which you should review with your health care attorney.

Aggravating/Mitigating Circumstances

The board hearing your case can take into account various factors that could affect the discipline you receive. These factors are called aggravating and mitigating circumstances. Aggravating circumstances are factors that can hurt your case. If aggravating circumstances are proven you could face harsher penalties. Mitigating circumstances are factors that can help your case. If mitigating circumstances are proven you could face lesser penalties. These factors can also be found in rule 64B9-8.006(5)(b) in the Florida Administrative Code. If either side can prove with clear and convincing evidence the aggravating or mitigating circumstances, the discipline you face could be altered by the board. Here are the factors:

(b) Circumstances which may be considered for purposes of mitigation or aggravation of penalty shall include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. The danger to the public.
  2. Previous disciplinary action against the licensee in this or any other jurisdiction.
  3. The length of time the licensee has practiced.
  4. The actual damage, physical or otherwise, caused by the violation.
  5. The deterrent effect of the penalty imposed.
  6. Any efforts at rehabilitation.
  7. Attempts by the licensee to correct or stop violations, or refusal by the licensee to correct or stop violations.
  8. Cost of treatment.
  9. Financial hardship.
  10. Cost of disciplinary proceedings.

The board can take into account any of these factors, or other factors, in your hearing. The board can deviate from the standard disciplinary guidelines if they find that any of these aggravating or mitigating circumstances exist. These are very important factors that you should discuss with your health care attorney.

Conclusion

If you are a licensed health care professional in Florida and have a pending criminal case you are probably concerned about how this may affect your license.  To set up a FREE no obligation consultation with Jeff Howell contact the law firm of Howell, Buchan & Strong, Attorneys at Law at 850-877-7776.  We represent licensed health care professionals and facilities statewide, including out of state clients who are concerned about the status of their Florida license

 

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