Extraterritorial Jurisdiction and Multi-state Medical Licenses
Extraterritorial Discipline: Is Your License Safe?
If a licensed health care professional is disciplined in another state, the repercussions can follow you to other states. We’ll cover how extraterritorial discipline works, how the State of Florida handles these cases, and why it should concern you and your license.
How Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Works
Extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) is the legal ability of a government to exercise authority beyond its normal boundaries. Just as health care professionals like physicians and physician assistants who are licensed to practice expect that each of the 50 US states regulates licensed health care practitioners separately, on the statewide level, the assumption might extend to the discipline of that license.
For instance, a PA licensed in one state, or even several, is not permitted to practice in the others. Therefore, one might expect that a licensee who loses his or her license in one state, for reasons purely local to that state, will retain it in the others.
Unfortunately, this is not so.
How Florida Statute Approaches Extraterritorial Discipline
Florida Statutes 458.331, which governs a wide variety of health care licenses, including physicians and physician assistants states in pertinent part:
“The following acts constitute grounds for denial of a license or disciplinary action… Having a license or the authority to practice medicine revoked, suspended, or otherwise acted against, including the denial of licensure, by the licensing authority of any jurisdiction, including its agencies or subdivisions.”
What this means is that exposure to discipline that could threaten your license in any jurisdiction is in and of itself grounds for the Florida Department of Health to consider disciplining or revoking your Florida license.
The logic is easy to follow. Humans are medically similar everywhere; being vulnerable to the same diseases and conditions. They exhibit the same medical and dietary needs, and, in many schools of thought, even have the same rights, including the same right to competent medical care, at a consistent, high standard.
So, as far as Florida’s regulators are concerned, anything that is of concern to the regulatory authorities anywhere, whether in Georgia or halfway around the world, ought to be of concern to them and the people of Florida.
The Impact of Extraterritorial Discipline on Your License
The downside to this extraterritorial regulatory scheme is in the duplication of litigation. Very often it results in a domino effect.
Physicians who practice in multiple states often find themselves embattled in all states in which they practice following an administrative complaint (or the local equivalent). It is worth noting this language in Section 458.331 can even include foreign countries.
There’s no safe haven. Licensure in multiple states does not function this way. Any professional who finds themselves disciplined in one state can’t simply withdraw to another to practice free and clear, as might be hoped. Rather, the Florida Department of Health and the Board of Medicine are quite proactive in pouncing on Florida licensed professionals facing extraterritorial discipline.
Legal Help to Preserve Your License
So how can you preserve your medical license and livelihood? Do not take a passive attitude and simply hope the state regulators take a fair or lenient position.
Depending on the nature of the discipline provoking the regulation, how you handle your case depends on the experience of your health care licensure attorney. The legal teams at Howell, Buchan, & Strong are uniquely qualified to help health care professionals in extraterritorial discipline cases.
If you are a health care professional who is licensed in Florida and facing discipline in another state, don’t wait; call 407-717-1773 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation with one of our expert health care licensure attorneys and find out what you can do to best protect your license and career.
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