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How Discipline in Other States affects Florida Psychologists?

June 3, 2021
Est read time: 4 minutes

Many psychologists hold professional licenses in multiple states. Did you know that discipline against a license in another state can lead to discipline in Florida? If you’re a psychologist who is licensed in Florida and has had disciplinary action taken against you in another state, your ability to practice in Florida may be at risk. It is important to take action and seek legal advice immediately!

Howell, Buchan, & Strong Helps Psychologists

Our team of attorneys has the experience and expertise to assist psychologists in these situations. We take the time to:

  • Review any letters you receive from the Florida Department of Health (DOH)
  • Help you understand and evaluate all your options.
  • Provide advice on how to successfully navigate the DOH and get your Florida license cleared.
  • Present your case to the DOH and the Board of Psychology.
  • Provide you with a letter for future employers to explain the circumstances around your case.

Understanding the Law for Psychologists

Florida law states that the Florida Board of Psychology can take disciplinary action against your Florida license if you are disciplined in another jurisdiction. Florida Statute 490.009(1)(b) says:

(1) The following acts constitute grounds for denial of a license or disciplinary action, as specified in s. 456.072(2):

(a) Having a license to practice a comparable profession revoked, suspended, or otherwise acted against, including the denial of certification or licensure by another state, territory, or country.

There are a couple important things for psychologists to note about this statute:

  1. Any action against your license in another jurisdiction can lead to disciplinary action in Florida. This can include reprimand, suspension, and revocation.
  2. Any action against your license in another state, country, or territory can lead to disciplinary action in Florida. So, if you get disciplined by a regulatory authority in another country, your Florida license may be at risk.
  3. Discipline against a license in a comparable profession can put your Florida psychology license at risk. Some examples of a comparable profession are social work, psychiatry, marriage and family therapy, and other forms of counseling.

To a psychologist, this statute may seem rather unfair.

Why should the Florida Board of Psychology punish a licensee who has already been disciplined by another licensing authority for something that happened in another state or county? Here’s why. The State of Florida has broad authority to regulate licensed medical professionals, including psychologists. The Florida courts have ruled:

"In Florida, the license to practice medicine is considered a privilege granted by the sovereign, which may be withdrawn to ‘preserve the public health, morals, comfort, safety and the good order of society.’”

Borrego v. Agency for Health Care Admin., 675 So.2d 666, 668 (Fla. 1st DCA 1996)

In other words, practicing medicine is a privilege, not a right, granted to you by the State of Florida.

It is the job of the Department of Health and the Board of Psychology to protect the public from individuals who are not fit to be licensed psychologists. The employees of the state take this job very seriously. If you are faced with discipline, you should have an experienced health care attorney who takes your license and the future of your practice just as seriously.

Possible Penalties for Psychologists

The Board of Psychology uses disciplinary guidelines to help determine what actions should be taken in a particular case. These can be found in Florida Administrative Code 64B19-17.002.  The discipline will vary depending on whether it’s the psychologist’s first offense or if he or she has violated before. Here, the disciplinary guidelines are:

FIRST OFFENSE: Imposition of discipline that would have been imposed had the violation occurred in Florida and fine of $1000 to $5000 dollars.

SUBSEQUENT OFFENSES: Revocation and a $10,000 fine.

These penalties may seem harsh but note that these are guidelines. They are not set in stone. The Board will look at aggravating and mitigating factors and either increase or decrease your penalty accordingly. Those factors include:

  • The danger posed to the public.
  • The length of time since the date of violation.
  • The number of complaints filed against the psycholgist.
  • The length of time the psychologist has practiced without complaint or violations.
  • The actual damage, physical or otherwise, to the patient(s), if applicable.
  • The deterrent effect of the penalty imposed.
  • The effect of the penalty upon the psychologist’s livelihood.
  • Any efforts the psychologist has made toward rehabilitation.
  • The actual knowledge the psychologist had regarding the violation.
  • Attempts by the psychologist to correct or stop violations.
  • Any refusals by the psychologist to correct or stop violations.
  • Related violations found against the psychologist in another state.
  • Any other aggravating and/or mitigating circumstances that the Board wants to consider.

It is important to review all aggravating and mitigating factors with your attorney, to present the best case possible to the Board of Psychology.

If you are a licensed professional in Florida and have received discipline in another jurisdiction, you are probably concerned about how this may affect your license. To set up a FREE no-obligation consultation, contact the law firm of Howell, Buchan & Strong at 850-877-7776. Our firm represents physicians, nurses, psychologists, and other licensed professionals statewide. We also represent out-of-state clients who hold professional licenses in Florida. Our goal is to successfully defend you so that you can keep your professional license.

Need Legal Advice? Let's Talk

Contact the law offices of Howell, Buchan & Strong; Attorneys at Law for your free consultation at any one of our locations:

Orlando (407) 717-1773 |Tallahassee (850) 877-7776 | Tampa (813) 833-6726 | Sarasota (941) 779-4348

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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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