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As a physician or other licensed healthcare professional in Florida, you know that performing competently can be the difference between successfully treating a patient and something going horribly wrong. Healthcare professional work is highly stressful and sometimes unfortunate things happen. How you deal with the pressure and high stress of your job could affect your ability to practice your chosen healthcare profession. Alcohol and substance abuse can affect your ability to practice safely within the healthcare profession. The Florida Statutes and its corresponding practice acts addresses the excessive use and abuse of alcohol and other substances. If you find yourself in a situation where you are defending your healthcare professional license and ability to practice from substance abuse allegations, you need an experienced attorney to guide you through the process. The experienced healthcare attorneys at Howell, Buchan & Strong, Attorneys at Law represent physicians and other healthcare professionals from substance abuse allegations levied by state regulatory agencies.
The practice act governing your profession specifically addresses practicing under the influence of substances such as alcohol and drugs. Practicing in a health care profession in Florida is a serious issue, dealing with complicated situations that require the utmost attention. Being under the influence can impair a professional licensee’s ability to timely respond to emergencies and provide proper care to your patients. Patients rely on your experience and expertise to provide them with the care they seek. The Florida Department of Health will take action if there is probable cause to believe that you are practicing under the influence and you will receive an Administrative Complaint.
The Department of Health often times refer and rely upon Section 456.072(1)(z), Florida Statutes within its Administrative Complaint. You may be charged with a similar provision under your specific practice act. Carefully reading your Administrative Complaint will help you to understand what is being alleged and what you are specifically being accused of. This section states that disciplinary action can be taken against your healthcare professional license for being unable to practice with reasonable skill and safety to patients by reason of illness or use of alcohol, drugs, narcotics, chemicals, or any other type of material or as a result of any mental or physical condition.
Beware that you could also face disciplinary action for a failed drug test. Section 456.072(1)(aa), Florida Statutes, states that a licensee could face disciplinary action for testing positive for any drug on any confirmed pre-employment or employer-ordered drug screening when the practitioner does not have a lawful prescription and legitimate medical reason for using the drug.
If you are convicted of violating these statutes, you could face the severe discipline of your license to practice. Discipline includes fines up to $10,000, suspension of your license, probation of your license, even revocation of your healthcare professional license. Discipline will vary according to the provisions of each particular practice act. It is very important that you contact the experienced attorneys at Howell, Buchan & Strong, Attorneys at Law to discuss your case and next steps to take.
The Professional Resource Network (PRN) is a monitoring service for physicians and other healthcare professionals. The PRN Florida evaluates health care professionals to determine if they are fit to practice within their specific profession. If you are a nurse needing advice or representation, you are not subject to the PRN Florida. The monitoring service for nursing is the Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN). By accepting services from PRN, physicians and other healthcare professionals may be able to save their licenses and avoid further disciplinary action.
The mission of PRN is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public, while also supporting the health and integrity of Florida’s healthcare and other professionals. PRN must balance their support for healthcare professionals with public health and safety. PRN was created to ensure the safety of those seeking healthcare within the State of Florida. Therefore, PRN will use stringent methods while performing your evaluation. Having an experienced health care attorney such as the attorneys of Howell, Buchan & Strong, Attorneys at Law may assist you before, during and after your PRN evaluation.
As part of your specific discipline issued by the Department of Health, the Department’s licensing board may refer you to PRN. However, you have the option to self-report yourself to PRN. PRN will have you evaluated by an approved treatment provider, either inpatient or outpatient depending your circumstances. In most cases, you may be held for a minimum 48-hour evaluation. Your evaluation may include a full medical exam, evaluation for chemical use, as well as psychiatric exams by the approved treatment provider.
After your initial evaluation, PRN of Florida will present a contract for a monitoring program for you to sign and accept. Having an experienced healthcare attorney to review your contract may be to your advantage. These contracts for monitoring services can include drug rehab programs and drug tests, among other conditions you will have to follow. These contracts could bind you to accept monitoring services for months, if not years, depending on the circumstances of your case. By accepting the terms of the contract, you are agreeing to perform each step to completion. If you do not complete the terms of the contract, PRN can report you to your licensing authority for disciplinary proceedings. That means that you could still have a disciplinary action against your license.
PRN is an excellent program which is designed to protect the safety of patients, however, it may not be the right fit for you. Consulting with an experienced health care attorney can help you determine whether PRN is the correct plan of action. Howell, Buchan & Strong, Attorneys at Law can assist with your entire disciplinary licensing issue. Please do not hesitate to contact the law offices of Howell, Buchan & Strong, Attorneys at Law for your free consultation at (850) 877-7776. We would be happy to assist you!