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Are you being investigated as a physical therapist for practicing or offering to practice beyond the scope of your license allowed by law ?

October 25, 2016
Est read time: 4 minutes
lawyerhelpnow@phipps-howell.com | resume
lawyerhelpnow@phipps-howell.com | resume

Have you received an administrative complaint against your physical therapist license for practicing or offering to practice beyond the scope of your license allowed by law? 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

The law states that disciplinary action can be taken against your license for practicing or offering to practice beyond the scope of your license allowed by law. Florida law on point here is Florida Statute 486.125(1)(j). 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):

 

(j) Practicing or offering to practice beyond the scope permitted by law or accepting and performing professional responsibilities which the licensee knows or has reason to know that she or he is not competent to perform, including, but not limited to, specific spinal manipulation.

 

You should know that this statute applies, not only if you had actual knowledge that you were not competent to perform the tasks you performed, but also if you had reason to know that what you were doing was beyond your competency level. You do not need actual knowledge. This statute also applies to licensees who offer to practice beyond the scope of their licensee, so you could be in violation even if you do not go through with practicing beyond the scope. 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.

Penalties

There are a range of actions that can be taken against you should the Board of Physical Therapy 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 64B17-7.001 in the Florida Administrative Code. The rule states the following for disciplinary guidelines for violation of the statute:
FIRST OFFENSE: from a minimum fine of $2,500 and/or one year of probation, up to a maximum suspension of license for two years followed by two years of probation and a fine of $10,000.
AFTER THE FIRST OFFENSE: up to a maximum fine of $10,000 and/or revocation

 

For a first offense, you could face a minimum fine of $2,500 and/or one year of probation, up to a 2 year suspension of the license, followed by 2 years of probation and a fine of $10,000. It is possible that your license could be suspended for 2 years as part of the penalty for a first offense. This is very serious. After a first offense, you could face up to a maximum of $10,000 in fines and/or revocation of your license. Your license could be revoked for multiple violations of this statute. 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 64B17-7.001 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) In determining what action is appropriate, the Board firstly shall consider what sanctions are necessary to protect the public or to compensate the patient. Secondly, the Board shall consider mitigating or aggravating circumstances in applying a penalty that is outside of the range provided for in the disciplinary guidelines including:
(a) The danger to the public;
(b) The number of distinct charges;
(c) The actual damage, physical or otherwise, to the patient(s);
(d) The length of time since the date of the last violation(s);
(e) The length of time that the licensee has held a license in any jurisdiction;
(f) The deterrent effect of the penalty imposed;
(g) Rehabilitation efforts of the licensee including remorse, restitution, and corrective action(s);
(h) The effect of the penalty on the licensee’s livelihood;
(i) Efforts of the licensee to report or stop violations or the failure of the licensee to correct or stop violations;
(j) The willfulness and/or negligence of the licensee pertaining to any violation;
(k) 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.

Conclusion

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

Have Questions? Let's Talk

Contact the law firm of Howell, Buchan & Strong at 850-877-7776 to set up a FREE no-obligation consultation. Our firm represents physicians, nurses, psychologists, and other licensed professionals statewide.
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