Are you being investigated as a doctor for aiding an unlicensed person to practice a health profession?
Have your received an administrative complaint against your physician’s license for aiding, procuring, employing, assisting or advising an unlicensed person to practice a profession governed by statutes or rules on the health professions? 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 as a doctor in Florida.
The law states that is a violation of law to aid, procure, or advise, in any way, an unlicensed person or entity to practice in a profession that is governed by statutes or rules governing the health professions. This could have serious consequences if you are found liable. Florida law on point here are Florida Statutes 456.072(1)(j) and 458.331(1)(f). Those statutes says the following in particular:
(1) The following acts constitute grounds for denial of a license or disciplinary action, as specified in s. 456.072(2):
456.072(1)(j) Aiding, assisting, procuring, employing, or advising any unlicensed person or entity to practice a profession contrary to this chapter, the chapter regulating the profession, or the rules of the department or the board.
458.331(1)(f) Aiding, assisting, procuring, or advising any unlicensed person to practice medicine contrary to this chapter or to a rule of the department or the board.
456.072(1)(j) is the general statute. It says that aiding, assisting, procuring, employing, or advising any unlicensed person or entity to practice any of the health occupation professions contrary to what each chapter or rules of the board say is grounds for discipline. 458.331(1)(f) is the applicable statute for the Board of Medicine and physicians. Both statutes are talking about the same thing, but an administrative complaint can be brought against you under either statute. If you have had complaints 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.
There are a range of actions that can be taken against you should the Board of Medicine decide to take disciplinary action against you. The penalties you could face are found in the Disciplinary Guidelines for the Board of Medicine, particularly in Rule 64B8-8.001 in the Florida Administrative Code. The rule states the following for disciplinary guidelines for violation of the statute:
|Revocation or denial and an administrative fine from $1,000.00 to $10,000.00|
|SECOND OFFENSE:||Suspension, to be followed by a period of probation||Revocation or denial and an administrative fine from $5,000.00 to $10,000.00.|
For a first offense, the disciplinary guidelines call for penalties ranging from probation to a revocation or denial of your license and a fine from $1,000 to $10,000. For a second offense, the penalties range from being suspended followed by probation, to a revocation or denial of your license and a fine from $5,000 to $10,000. Most likely you will receive a combination of financial and non-financial penalties. 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.
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 64B8-8.001(3) 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:
(a) Exposure of patient or public to injury or potential injury, physical or otherwise: none, slight, severe, or death;
(b) Legal status at the time of the offense: no restraints, or legal constraints;
(c) The number of counts or separate offenses established;
(d) The number of times the same offense or offenses have previously been committed by the licensee or applicant;
(e) The disciplinary history of the applicant or licensee in any jurisdiction and the length of practice;
(f) Pecuniary benefit or self-gain inuring to the applicant or licensee;
(g) The involvement in any violation of Section 458.331, F.S., of the provision of controlled substances for trade, barter or sale, by a licensee. In such cases, the Board will deviate from the penalties recommended above and impose suspension or revocation of licensure.
(h) Where a licensee has been charged with violating the standard of care pursuant to Section 458.331(1)(t), F.S., but the licensee, who is also the records owner pursuant to Section 456.057(1), F.S., fails to keep and/or produce the medical records.
(i) Any other relevant mitigating factors.
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.
If you are a licensed health care professional in Florida and have received an administrative complaint for violation of the statutes, 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.