Risks of Failing to Comply with DOH Subpoena
The Risks on Your Florida Nursing License by Failing to Comply with a DOH Subpoena or Board Order
If you are a nurse licensed by the Florida Department of Health (DOH), you may receive a subpoena from DOH. These are often connected to DOH investigations and usually request patient records. You may also receive an order from the Board of Nursing. The Board can order all types of actions, such as turning over records, suspension of your license, or entering the Intervention Project for Nurse program.
Read more about Florida’s Intervention Project for Nurses program.
What should you do if you get a subpoena from the DOH? What happens if you don’t comply with an order from the Board of Nursing? We’ll answer those questions here and also review a real-life example of a nurse who was disciplined for failing to comply with a Board order.
Understanding the Law | Board Orders and DOH Subpoenas
Florida statutes Section 456.072(1)(q) makes it unlawful for nurses to violate a Board order or DOH subpoena, stating:
- The following acts shall constitute grounds for which the disciplinary actions…may be taken:
(q) Violating a lawful order of the department or the board, or failing to comply with a lawfully issued subpoena of the department.
The Board of Nursing uses disciplinary guidelines to help determine what actions should be taken in a particular case. These can be found in Florida Administrative Code 64B9-8.006. The discipline will vary depending on whether it’s the nurse’s first offense or if he or she has violated before.
Consider these disciplinary guidelines:
|Letter of Concern, $100 Fine, and Continuing Education||$250 Fine and Probation|
|Reprimand, $500 Fine, and Suspension||$750 Fine and Revocation|
While the fines are relatively low, your license can be suspended or even revoked on your second offense. 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 are:
1. The danger to the public.
2. Previous disciplinary action against the nurse in this or any other jurisdiction.
3. The length of time the nurse has practiced.
4. The actual damage, physical or otherwise, caused by the violation.
5. The deterrent effect of the penalty imposed.
6. Any efforts at rehabilitation.
7. Attempts by the nurse to correct or stop violations, or refusal by the nurse to correct or stop violations.
8. Cost of treatment.
9. Financial hardship of the nurse.
10. Cost of disciplinary proceedings.
Failure to Comply | A Real-Life APRN Case
In a real-life case, an Administrative Complaint was filed against an APRN for failure to keep proper patient records. The APRN was disciplined. As part of her discipline, the Board of Nursing ordered that the APRN be placed on probation, with a supervisor, and to submit quarterly reports regarding her supervision. The nurse failed to comply with this order, and a second Administrative Complaint was filed against her license.
The Board found that the APRN had violated 456.072(1)(q), Florida Statutes. As a result, the APRN’s license was suspended until she complied with the original order. She was also made to pay a $500 fine and over $3,000 in investigative costs to DOH.
What If You Receive an Order or Subpoena
If you receive either an order from the Board of Nursing or a subpoena from DOH, do not ignore it.
The issue will not go away, and ignoring it can lead to further discipline, as we saw in our example. If you have been served with a Board order, you should comply immediately if you wish to avoid discipline.
If you receive a DOH subpoena, you should contact an experienced healthcare attorney, who can help you properly respond.
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