The following information is provided as a general guide to the potential situations, outcomes, and strategies you could experience during the course of the complaint process. The following information should not be understood as creating a lawyer/client relationship. Every complaint is unique and for this reason, the general information below might not be applicable and you should contact an experienced health care attorney to discuss your rights and options.
1. Is it important to seek legal advice if you or your facility is the subject of an investigation by the Department of Health (DOH) or Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA)?
Yes. Health care regulation has complex rules and time deadlines so it is advisable to consult an experienced health care attorney to know your rights under the law.
2. Are disciplinary cases against a health care provider public information?
Florida has a very liberal public records law. Depending upon the type of case at certain points in time records of the investigation may become public. Final Orders imposing discipline are public records and in many instances posted to the web by either DOH or AHCA.
3. I received a letter stating that I am being investigated and can either speak with an investigator or submit a written response to the allegations against me. Should I respond?
No. The law requires that DOH (or AHCA), in most instances, provide a notice that you are the subject of an investigation and have a right to respond to the allegations. Generally, it is not wise to speak with investigators or submit a response before you have spoken with an experienced health care attorney. In nearly all cases, the investigator simply uses the information you provide to file charges against you anyway. Statements you make will invariably be used against you.
4. I received an Emergency Suspension Order (ESO) can I still practice?
No. The ESO is issued in extreme cases where the government believes the health care provider is an immediate threat to the health, safety, and welfare of the public. The license is suspended from the date that the ESO is filed with the Agency Clerk (see the upper left corner of the ESO front page for date stamp). You should immediately have an experienced health care attorney review the ESO. Some are issued wrongfully and not in accordance with the law. It may be possible to challenge the issuance of the ESO. Otherwise, a hearing is scheduled within months of the ESO in front of an administrative board.
5. I received an Administrative Complaint against my license. What should I do?
You should contact our firm if you are not represented by an attorney. We will be glad to review the Administrative Complaint for free and tell you what possible strategies we recommend.
6. Are there deadlines for responding to an investigation or administrative complaint?
Yes. Depending upon the type of case there are various time deadlines in which the health care provider must respond. Failure to timely respond can have hard consequences including suspension or revocation of a license.
7. What kind of health care cases does your law firm handle?
We represent healthcare providers statewide, including professionals, clinics, and facilities with the following types of cases:
-Emergency Suspension Orders (ESOs)
-Board of Medicine
-Board of Osteopathic Medicine
-Board of Dentistry
-Board of Nursing
-Board of Pharmacy
-Board of Physical Therapy
-Facility and Clinic Inspections
8. Am I the type of health care professional that your law firm works with?
Howell, Buchan & Strong, Attorneys at Law represents a wide variety of professionals regulated by the Department of Health, including:
-Nursing Home Administrators
-Clinical Lab Personnel
-Certified Nursing Assistants
-Clinical Social Workers
-Marriage & Family Therapists
-Emergency Medical Technicians
-Dietetics & Nutrition
-Hearing Aid Specialists
-Other Occupations Licensed by the Dept. of Health