Complaints filed through the Florida Department of Health against a physician can be extremely damaging to your career and long-term livelihood. Any license discipline whatsoever may affect your current employment and future employability.
License discipline is reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank and the Federation of State Medical Boards and is permanent unless removed or modified by the reporting entity. Since potential license discipline can be so costly to the career you have poured your time and resources into, you must be diligent in your response to and defense of any complaint made against your license or any impending investigation.
Jonathan Rose is an experienced, skilled Florida medical license defense attorney. He has the experience in healthcare and criminal defense law and record of success you need to protect your career.
Florida Statute section 458.331 lists over fifty actions that can lead to license discipline. Some of these are construed very broadly. For example, a criminal conviction that “directly relates to the practice of medicine or the ability to practice medicine” is typically construed by the Department to mean virtually any criminal conviction. Similarly, the failure to “perform any statutory or legal obligation placed upon a licensed physician” is a catch-all provision that appears in many complaints.
Some of the other more common areas of alleged violation under Florida Statue section 458.331 include:
Florida’s physicians have been targeted in personal injury lawsuits for medical malpractice at a historic rate, causing many physicians to leave the practice of medicine, move to other states, or stop carrying malpractice insurance. These suits are frequently unfounded or frivolous, but even a frivolous allegation can result in a complaint being filed and subsequent investigation by the Department of Health. In some instances, complaints are generated by hospital administration even in if there was no complaint by a patient and no negative outcome.
Presenting a thorough defense to the Department early in the process is vital in such cases, including reports from expert witnesses to validate your course of treatment and adherence to the standard of care.
Drug or Alcohol Abuse / PRN
Ten to fifteen percent of physicians suffer from a substance abuse disorder at some point during their life. This closely mirrors the rate among the general public. However, for physicians, substance abuse seriously impacts their career, as it impairs their ability to practice with reasonable skill and safety.
In most instances, a minor substance abuse issue, such as marijuana use, does not actually impair your ability to practice. Nonetheless, if you become the subject of an investigation or complaint for an alleged substance abuse problem or positive drug test, you will almost certainly be referred to the Professionals Resource Network (PRN).
PRN has great benefits for practitioners who need help. However, most physicians are not impaired as a result of alcohol or drug use. Still, they are frequently told by hospitals, administrators, and PRN officials that entry into the program is the only way to continue practicing.
For physicians who are not in need of rigorous addiction treatment, there are viable alternatives, such as retaining a PRN-approved provider to opine on your safety to practice. If there is an issue with your safety to practice, a less intrusive program than PRN’s five-year commitment and temporary relinquishment of your medical license may be able to be negotiated.
When you are the subject of an impairment-related complaint or there has been a positive drug test, the burden of proof is on you to prove you are safe to practice to the Board. This can be done by showing:
- There have been no previous positive drug tests or impairment related complaints or investigations.
- You do not have a drug or alcohol addiction.
- The impairment or positive test was an isolated situation.
- You are safe to practice.
- You would not benefit from a period of monitoring, and do not need active supervision.
Jonathan Rose is experienced in dealing with the drug and alcohol issues of Florida’s healthcare providers and is prepared to work through this process with you and, if possible, prove to the relevant Board and the Department that you are safe to practice.
Criminal Arrests and Convictions
As noted above, virtually any arrest can place your medical license in peril. DUI, alcohol-related reckless driving, domestic violence, allegations of healthcare fraud or kickbacks, and most other arrests can result in license discipline.
As a physician, if you receive a complaint from the Department of Health or if you are the subject of a criminal investigation, the following actions are absolutely necessary:
- Seek counsel from an attorney experienced in both criminal law and administrative matters with the Department of Health and the Board of Medicine, no matter how frivolous the allegation may be.
- Do not report the arrest to the Board immediately. You must report any conviction within thirty days, not the arrest itself.
- Do not speak with law enforcement during an investigation without counsel from an attorney experienced in both criminal law and healthcare law. The impact on your license from such an arrest can be devastating, and in many instances, can be avoided by properly handling the investigation and any resulting charges.
The Florida Patient Brokering Act (Florida Statutes § 817.505) is a criminal statute that prohibits paying or receiving any type of commission or “kickback” for patient referrals. If you violate the state’s antikickback statute, you will be charged with a felony offense that carries stiff penalties. Violations are also grounds for administrative sanctions, including denial of a medical license or disciplinary action against your license.
Federal law also prohibits kickbacks. The Anti-Kickback Statute (42 U.S. § 1320) prohibits any person or entity from offering or accepting remuneration in any form to induce or reward any person for arranging for the purchasing or ordering of federally-funded medical goods or services. If convicted, you can face penalties of up five years in prison, criminal fines up to $25,000 per violation, civil penalties up to $50,000 per kickback plus three times the amount of the remuneration, and exclusion from participation in the Federal health care programs.
In addition to being indicted for paying or receiving kickbacks, you could also be charged with conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks, conspiracy to defraud the U.S., conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud, conspiring to commit money laundering, and/or money laundering, depending on the particular circumstances of the case.
If you are being investigated for or have been charged with kickback violations, make sure your attorney is experienced in both criminal and healthcare law at the state and federal level. For the experience and expertise you need to fight the allegations and protect your rights and your future, contact Jonathan Rose today.
The Stark Law (42 U.S.C. § 1395) prohibits physicians from referring patients to receive designated health services payable by Medicare or Medicaid from entities which have a financial relationship with a physician or an immediate family member of the physician. Immediate family members of the physician include the spouse, natural or adoptive parents, children, siblings, step-siblings, in-laws, grandparents, and grandchildren.
The Stark Law’s primary functions are:
- It prohibits a physician from making referrals for designated health services payable by Medicare to an entity with which the physician (or an immediate family member) has a financial relationship unless an exception applies.
- It prohibits that entity from presenting or causing to be presented claims to Medicare (or billing another individual, entity, or third party payer) for the referred services.
- It establishes numerous exceptions for financial relationships between a physician and an entity that do not pose a risk of program or patient abuse.
The following services or supplies are considered designated health services under the Stark Law:
- Clinical laboratory services
- Physical therapy services
- Occupational therapy services
- Outpatient speech-language pathology services
- Radiology and certain other imaging services
- Radiation therapy services and supplies
- Durable medical equipment and supplies
- Parenteral and enteral nutrients, equipment, and supplies
- Prosthetics, orthotics, and prosthetic devices and supplies
- Home health services
- Outpatient prescription drugs
- Inpatient and outpatient hospital services
Finally, if claims are submitted to the government as a result of a self-referral system in violation of the Stark Law, they are considered false claims, and the parties to the arrangement may be liable under the False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. § 3729, et seq.).
Recent state and federal laws have strengthened prescription guidelines, increased educational and reporting requirements, and stiffened penalties for overprescribing. As a result, state and federal law enforcement agencies have become much more aggressive in investigating and arresting doctors and other health care providers suspected of prescribing medication illegally.
If you believe you are being investigated or you’ve been charged with prescribing medication illegally, you need to act quickly to protect yourself. It is against the law for a practitioner to prescribe medication outside the course of his or her professional practice, and you could be facing very serious state or federal charges.
Get the help you need from an experienced federal defense attorney with experience in healthcare law. Jonathan Rose has close to 20 years’ experience in state and federal court. He will put his experience, knowledge, and skill to work for you, developing a powerful, aggressive defense to protect your freedom and your future.
If you are a doctor accused of overprescribing medication in Florida, learn more here.
Medical licenses can be suspended for many reasons, including positive drug screens, probation violations, failure to comply with PRN, criminal convictions, failure to complete CMEs, and nonpayment of student loans. A license suspension is definitely a serious issue, but it does not have to ruin your career.
If you challenge a suspension order appropriately, your medical license can possibly be reinstated. If your medical license has been suspended, contact Jonathan Rose immediately. There is a very short period of time in which you can request a hearing to challenge the suspension order, and Attorney Rose will make sure the process is handled effectively and efficiently to ensure the best possible outcome.
Other Areas of Representation for Physicians
- Allegations of malpractice
- Inappropriate medical diagnosis
- Standard of Care Deviation
- Drug diversion
- Inappropriate patient or employee contact
- Sister-state discipline and convictions
- Medical license application omissions or errors
- Sexual Misconduct
Get the Help You Need to Defend Your License, Your Career, and Your Future
When your medical license and your future are at stake, you need an attorney who will fight aggressively to protect your rights and your future. You need an attorney who has successful experience in defense and healthcare law in both state and federal court.
Jonathan Rose has close to twenty years’ experience in state and federal court. He has helped many doctors challenge administrative complaints, license suspensions, and criminal charges and has the expertise in defense and healthcare law to help protect your medical license, career, and future.