Are you being investigated as a respiratory therapist for being convicted or found guilty of, or pleading no contest to, a crime that relates to the practice of respiratory care?
Have you received an administrative complaint against your respiratory therapist license for being convicted or found guilty of, or pleading no contest to, a crime that relates to the practice of respiratory care? 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 physical therapist in Florida.
The law states that disciplinary action can be taken against your license for being convicted or found guilty of, or pleading no contest to, a crime that relates to the practice of respiratory care. Florida law on point here is Florida Statute 468.365(1)(c). The statute 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):
(c) Being convicted or found guilty of, or entering a plea of nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, a crime in any jurisdiction which directly relates to respiratory care services or to the ability to deliver such services.
This statute applies to anyone convicted or found guilty of a crime that directly relates to respiratory care services or the ability to deliver those services. Note however, that it also relates to anyone that has entered a no contest plea to the charges. Having adjudication withheld would not matter here either. Also note that the crime could take place in any jurisdiction. That means that you could be convicted or found guilty, or plead no contest, to a crime in any other state, city, or country, and it could trigger this statute here in Florida. Remember however that this statute only comes into play if the crime directly relates to the respiratory care services or the ability to deliver those services. 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 Respiratory Care decide to take disciplinary action against you. The penalties you could face are found in the Disciplinary Guidelines for the Board of Physical Therapy, particularly in Rule 64B32-5.001 in the Florida Administrative Code. The rule states the following for disciplinary guidelines for violation of the statute:
From a minimum of six months probation
with conditions to revocation of the
license and an administrative fine ranging
from $300 to $1,000. Any Board
ordered probation shall be for no less time than
Court ordered sanctions.
From one year suspension and $5,000 fine to revocation
and fine of $10,000.
The penalty for this offense could be quite severe. For a first offense, you could face a minimum of 6 months probation with conditions, all the way to revocation and a fine from $300 to $1,000. Your license could be revoked for a first offense. This is serious. Note, however, that if the board puts you on probation, the probationary period cannot be for less of a time than the court order probation. For a second offense, you could face a 1 year suspension and a fine of $5,000 to revocation and a fine of $10,000. Your license could be suspended or revoked for a second offense. 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 64B32-5.001 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:
(2) The range of disciplinary penalties which the Board may impose includes any and all set forth in Section 456.072, F.S., unless the conduct to be disciplined falls within the purview of Section 456.0635, F.S., in which case the Board shall impose the penalty specified in Section 456.0635, F.S. In determining the appropriate disciplinary action to be imposed in each case, the Board shall take into consideration the following factors:
(a) The danger to the public;
(b) The length of time since the date of the violation;
(c) The number of previous disciplinary cases filed against the applicant or licensee;
(d) The length of time the applicant or licensee has practiced;
(e) The actual damage, physical or otherwise, to the patient;
(f) The deterrent effect of the penalty imposed;
(g) The effect of the penalty upon the applicant’s or licensee’s livelihood;
(h) Any efforts for rehabilitation;
(i) Any other mitigating or aggravating circumstances.
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