Are you being investigated as a nurse for failing to comply with education requirements?
Have you received an administrative complaint against your nursing license for failing to comply with education course requirements? If you are found to have violated these requirements, there could be action taken against your license and your ability to practice nursing in the state of Florida. You should contact an experienced health care attorney immediately to discuss your options to protect your license.
The law states that failing to comply with education course requirements can lead to disciplinary action being taken against your license. There are specific areas you need to satisfy here, including HIV/AIDS and domestic violence. The Florida statute on point here is 456.072(1)(e) or (s). That statute states the following:
(1) The following acts shall constitute grounds for which the disciplinary actions specified in subsection (2) may be taken:
(e) Failing to comply with the educational course requirements for human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
(s) Failing to comply with the educational course requirements for domestic violence.
There is also a general rule on point that says you must complete one contact hour for each calendar month of the license cycle in continuing education. There are several exceptions to this requirement. The rule is set out in Rule 64B9-5.002 in the Florida Administrative Code. The rule in its entirety says the following:
(1) During each biennium, one contact hour must be earned for each calendar month of the licensure cycle.
(2) Those persons licensed by examination within a biennium are exempt from the continuing education requirement for that biennium. This exemption shall apply to a person who is licensed by endorsement during a biennium if such person was licensed in the original state of licensure by successful completion of an acceptable licensure examination during that biennium. A licensee who has endorsed into this State during a biennium or whose license was reactivated or reinstated during a biennium shall be required to accrue one (1) contact hour for each calendar month remaining in the biennium after licensure, reactivation, or reinstatement (however, no hours are required if the time remaining in the biennium is six months or less). This exemption or limitation shall only apply if the license is timely renewed at the end of the biennium, and does not apply if the license is suspended, revoked, or is (or becomes) inactive at the end of the biennium.
(3) A registered nurse who also holds a current license as a licensed practical nurse may satisfy the continuing education requirement for renewal of both licenses by completing appropriate continuing education for a registered nurse. A registered nurse who also holds a current ARNP certificate may satisfy the continuing education requirement for both licenses by completing appropriate continuing education for a registered nurse, or may satisfy up to 50% of the continuing education requirement by completing continuing medical education coursework equivalent to the contact hours required by these rules.
(4) A licensee is exempt from continuing education requirements at the time of renewal if the licensee was on active duty with the Armed Forces within 6 months of the renewal date. However, this exemption will not arise on the basis of the performance of short periods of active duty (such as summer or weekend drills) by a member of the Armed Forces Reserves. Duty in the United States Public Health Service is not considered duty in the Armed Forces.
(5) A nurse who is the spouse of a member of the Armed Forces and was caused to be absent from Florida due to the spouse’s duties with the Armed Forces shall be exempt from continuing education requirements. The licensee must show satisfactory proof of the absence and the spouse’s military status.
The exemption for the continuing education requirements here is for someone who becomes licensed within the biennium and only applies to the education requirements during that biennium. A biennium is a two year period of time. Another important thing to remember is that if you hold a license as both a Registered Nurse and a Licensed Practical Nurse, you can satisfy the education requirements by completing the education requirements for a Registered Nurse. There are other requirements you should be aware of as well if you are part of the Armed Forces within 6 months of the license renewal date or if you hold an ARNP certificate. You should go over these important aspects with an experienced health care attorney.
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:
|FIRST OFFENSE:||Reprimand and $250 fine||$500 fine and suspension until licensee complies|
|SECOND OFFENSE:||$500 fine and suspension until licensee complies||$750 fine, suspension until licensee complies followed by probation|
The lightest penalty here is a reprimand and $250 fine. The heaviest penalty under these guidelines is a $750 fine, suspension until licensee complies followed by probation. It is possible under the guidelines that your license will be suspended indefinitely, meaning you would not be able to practice until you complied with the education requirements. 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 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:
- The danger to the public.
- Previous disciplinary action against the licensee in this or any other jurisdiction.
- The length of time the licensee has practiced.
- The actual damage, physical or otherwise, caused by the violation.
- The deterrent effect of the penalty imposed.
- Any efforts at rehabilitation.
- Attempts by the licensee to correct or stop violations, or refusal by the licensee to correct or stop violations.
- Cost of treatment.
- Financial hardship.
- 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.
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 or Rickey Strong, 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.