The process by which the State of Florida and the Federal Government regulate health care is complex. The chart below is prepared by the Florida Department of Health and demonstrates the complex process that occurs once a complaint is made against a professional’s license. There are critical deadlines that must be followed in successfully resolving your case. Lack of experience or familiarity can result in adverse consequences for your license.
One important concept is “Election of Rights” which can best be described as the stage in the regulatory process where a licensee that is served an “Administrative Complaint” is required to make certain selections from a list of “options” presented by the government. Generally speaking in most cases you are given a choice of having an administrative law judge appointed to hear your case or negotiate a settlement with the State whereby certain penalties are placed on your license. If you elect an Administrative Law Judge the State will be required to prove that the allegations in the Administrative Complaint are true and constitute a violation of a law.
The “Administrative Complaint” is the charging document whereby the State alleges that the licensee has violated the law. This document sets forth allegations of fact that, if proven, may constitute grounds for disciplining a professional’s license. Actions taken can range from a letter of concern to suspension or permanent revocation of the license.
The “Election of Rights” form is a critical document in the disciplinary process. It is highly advisable that one consult an experienced health care attorney before electing any of the options set forth on the form. Each option has serious consequences for the professional health care provider. In all cases, the “Election of Rights” form must be returned to the State agency by a certain time deadline. Failure to return the form before the deadline can result in loss of one’s license or giving up important rights to tell your side of the story.
It is important to note, that Florida assesses the cost of an investigation against the professional. In addition, the State will seek reimbursement of its attorney fees incurred in the prosecution of the healthcare professional. This includes the hours attorneys for the State have spent bringing the case against your license. An experienced health attorney who is familiar with this process may save the professional time and money by expeditiously seeking resolution of the case.
In nearly all cases the matter eventually is heard before the professional board of the licensee. These hearings require preparation, review of pertinent documents, and familiarity with the operation and decorum of the Board. An experienced healthcare attorney can help you navigate the complex nature of the process.
JEFFREY S. HOWELL, P.A., Attorneys at Law represents healthcare professionals before all of Florida's licensing boards and commissions.