Florida License Defense:What Physicians and Nurses Need to Know
Are you a healthcare professional, such as a physician or nurse, who is in the initial phases of a Florida Department of Health (DOH) investigation? If you are, or if you’ve received a letter from a Florida Department of Health investigator concerning a complaint made against your license, it is important to seek legal advice about your Florida license defense options early in the process.
A healthcare license attorney can help you:
- Know what your options are
- Review your letter from the DOH Investigator
- Provide advice on how to successfully navigate the system
- Provide advice on settlement versus challenging the allegations in a hearing
- Argue mitigating circumstances which might lessen the penalties
- Representation before DOH and your professional board
- After representation, provide you with a letter for future employers
Establishing a strategy early in the process for the defense of your medical or nursing license is the best approach under these circumstances. Howell, Buchan & Strong, Attorneys at Law is headquartered in Tallahassee, Florida, which is also where the DOH and Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) are based. We have decades of experience dealing with state government agencies and the problems that arise. This is not an area of law that you should go it alone.
In the early phases of a DOH investigation into a physician or nurses license an investigator tries to reach the licensee for an interview. The process starts when the DOH investigator sends the nurse or doctor a letter soliciting a response to the allegations. For physicians, the law allows 45 days to submit a response to the investigative letter. For nurses, the law allows 20 days for a response.
In 99 % of the case, our law firm recommends that our clients not respond to the DOH investigative letter or speak with an investigator. Why? Because in most cases any statements made to DOH will only be used against the physician or nurse during the investigation. Years of practice and experience has taught us that DOH investigators often do not see facts in the same way as healthcare professionals. They are trained to find violations of the Medical Practice Act or Nurse Practice Act.
Eventually, when the investigation has wrapped up, the case the file is sent from the regional coordinating office to the DOH headquarters in Tallahassee. Once at DOH central office the legal staff at Prosecution Services Unit (PSU) determines whether to file an Administrative Complaint against the licensee. If an Administrative Complaint is filed it is sent to the licensee via certified mail.
You have 21- days from receipt of the certified Administrative Complaint to file what is known as an “Election of Rights” or EOR. We strongly recommend that you use the services of an experienced health care attorney when completing and submitting the EOR. Failure to timely submit the EOR and with the correct information and election can result in the loss of your rights to challenge the allegations.
Our professional license defense firm provides representation to physicians and nurses statewide who are under investigation or have received an Administrative Complaint or Emergency Suspension Order from DOH. We also represent out of state clients who hold professional licenses in Florida and may be the subject of a complaint. Our goal is to successfully defend you so that you can keep your professional license.
Have questions about the process? We're here to answer them. Reach us at 850-877-7776.