Licensed Florida Dietician & Nutritionist Defense Lawyer

Have you been notified of an Administrative Complaint filed against your Florida dietician/nutritionist license? Are you concerned about how the complaint might affect your future well-being, reputation, and career? A complaint filed against a licensed dietician/nutritionist in Florida can have detrimental consequences that may include steep fines, a restriction on services, harm to your reputation, and, at worst, a revoked license.

Even if the complaint is baseless, you should contact an accomplished professional license defense attorney like the ones at The Umansky Law Firm immediately after you become aware of an investigation. That will allow enough time to gather information about the incident. The more information we’re prepared with when meeting the investigator, the more favorable an outcome we will most likely achieve in defending your future as a licensed dietician/nutritionist.

What Do Licensed Dieticians & Nutritionists Do?

Licensed dieticians and nutritionists help people with their health by designing nutrition programs for healthy eating, preventing allergic reactions, and reducing the symptoms of various diseases and ailments. Clinical dietitians give medical nutrition therapy for sick people in hospitals and nursing home facilities.

According to Florida Statute 468.503(5), dietetics and nutrition practice involves:

“Assessing nutrition needs and status using appropriate data; recommending appropriate dietary regimens, nutrition support, and nutrient intake; ordering therapeutic diets; improving health status through nutrition research, counseling, and education; and developing, implementing, and managing nutrition care systems, which includes, but is not limited to, evaluating, modifying, and maintaining appropriate standards of high quality in food and nutrition care services.”

Why Is It Important for a Dietician or Nutritionists to be Licensed in Florida?

Valid state licensure is required to work as a dietician or nutritionist in Florida. To become licensed, dieticians and nutritionists must meet educational requirements with a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, human nutrition, food and nutrition, food management, a certain amount of supervised training, and a passing score of the registered dietician examination. This requirement is necessary to become licensed and guarantees to the public that you are educated and qualified to advise on nutrition.

Who Licenses Dieticians & Nutritionists in Florida?

In Florida, dieticians and nutritionists receive their license through the Board of Medicine’s Dietetics and Nutrition Practice Council. The Dietetics and Nutrition Practice Council is responsible for licensing, supervising, and educating dietitians and nutritionists to ensure proficiency and safety to practice in Florida. However, the Florida Board of Medicine handles all disciplinary actions. Today, the Dietetics and Nutrition Practice Council oversees more than 5,413 licensed dietitians and nutritionists in Florida.

What Complaints Against Dieticians & Nutritionists Could Result in Disciplinary Action?

Licensed dieticians/nutritionists in Florida can face disciplinary actions for complaints related to negligible or misleading advice or services. According to Florida Statute 468.518, grounds for discipline against a licensed dietician/nutritionist include:

  • Attempting to obtain a license to practice dietetics and nutrition by misrepresentation or fraud
  • Being convicted of a crime which relates to their profession
  • Knowingly filing a false or misleading record or report, or failing to file a defend document or report required by law
  • Intentionally violating any rule or regulation adopted by the DOH
  • Being unable to engage in dietetics and nutrition practice or nutrition counseling with reasonable skill and safety to patients because of illness or use of alcohol, drugs, or narcotics
  • Advertising fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading goods or services
  • Practicing dietetics and nutrition without a valid and active license
  • Neglecting to maintain acceptable standards of practice as required by the Board and the Council

In essence, dieticians and nutritionists who commit any act of fraud, deceit, incompetency, misconduct, or negligence in their counseling services can face disciplinary action from the Board of Medicine and risk their license being suspended or revoked.

How Would Someone File a Complaint Against a Florida Licensed Dietician/Nutritionist?

Anyone who wants to file a complaint against a licensed dietician/nutritionist in Florida would do so by contacting the Florida DOH and completing a complaint form through the Florida Health Care Complaint Portal. The DOH online services also allow the public to confirm a licensed dietician/nutritionist’s validity to ensure they’re authorized and in good standing with the state.

How Does the Complaint Process Work in Florida?

After the DOH receives a complaint against a licensed dietician/nutritionist, it’s investigated further by an investigator with the Investigative Services Unit (ISU). The investigation involves an interview with you and collection of information to establish whether the complaint has sufficient legal grounds to file a formal Administrative Complaint.

Information collected during a DOH investigation typically includes:

  • Interviews with complainants
  • Interviews with the subject of the complaint
  • Interviews with witnesses
  • Issuing subpoenas
  • Recording sworn statements
  • Gathering detailed evidence
  • Preparing reports

As a licensed Florida dietician/nutritionist, it is strongly advised that you retain a qualified and skilled professional license attorney as soon as possible to help you establish a response and be present at an interview during the investigation. A seasoned lawyer can often achieve a dismissal before the complaint becomes available to the public. At this time, you have the best opportunity of saving your career and reputation from damage.

If the investigation acquires enough evidence to move the allegation to the next step, the complaint will be reviewed by a Probable Cause Panel. That will usually involve members on the DOH who review the documents and evidence associated with the claim.

The Probable Cause Panel Assesses the Complaint

If the investigation discovers sufficient information to press the Administrative Complaint forward, it will be reviewed by a Probable Cause Panel. This panel reviews evidence to support the complaint along with rules of regulations that were violated.

At this time, it is essential that you’ve partnered with an experienced license defense attorney. Your future career depends on how you manage this process. To protect your livelihood and reputation, we strongly discourage any attempt to handle the situation alone.

The panel review may lead to three possible results:

  • Finding no probable cause: a dismissal of the case
  • Issuing a letter of guidance: a determination that a minor violation did occur
  • Issuing a formal Administrative Complaint: the most severe of outcomes

A determination of “no probable cause” means insufficient evidence to establish that you violated any rule or regulation. A “letter of guidance” is not a disciplinary action but can still damage your professional reputation. If a formal Administrative Complaint is issued against you, the Administrative Complaint process advances to the next step.

What’s the Process of an Administrative Complaint?

An Administrative Complaint outlines the evidence and information found against you during the investigation and the specific laws or regulations you’re accused of violating. At this time, the complaint becomes public record. Even if the complaint is thrown out, your reputation as a qualified licensed dietitian/nutritionist could be damaged. After consulting with your attorney, you can decide whether you want to attend an Informal Hearing or Formal Hearing.

Informal Hearing

If you choose to proceed with an Informal Hearing, you do not intend to argue with any of the claims against you, nor do you want to reveal any new evidence. Instead, you’re accepting the complaints, and the Board of Medicine will make a final decision on penalties that will be enforced against you.

Formal Hearing

If you wish to dispute the claims and evidence found against you during the investigation, you move forward to a Formal Hearing. This hearing is before Florida’s Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) and is chaired by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ considers the evidence from both sides and makes a final Recommended Order to the Board of Medicine. The Board then makes a final decision on what disciplinary actions you’ll face.

Remember that you can appeal the decision by filing a petition for judicial review if your license is suspended or revoked. Your attorney is your most important ally and a vital part of your defense team when going through this process—always seek counsel from them before making a final decision.

How Can a Professional License Defense Attorney Assist?

At The Umansky Law Firm, our professional license defense team investigates each case in great detail to uncover the facts and the most efficient way to proceed. Complaints against licensed dietitian/nutritionists can sometimes go to criminal court and be subject to criminal charges. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer with broad experience in professional license defense is crucial.

Our attorneys can help in some of the following ways:

  • Review the complaint against you and build a defense by obtaining evidence, documents, and witnesses that help you
  • Prevent you from incriminating yourself as you respond to the claims
  • Defend against potential criminal charges that may result from the complaint
  • Determine the motive or bias of the person who made the complaint against you
  • Help you respond to the Probable Cause Investigation by securing documents, witnesses, and other methods to prove there is no probable cause for the complaint
  • Attempt to have the complaint dismissed by the Probable Cause Panel
  • Argue that a guidance letter is better than a prosecution
  • Mitigate any potential penalties the Board of Medicine may want to take
  • Present evidence, witnesses, and cross-examine witnesses at a Formal Review Hearing
  • Help dispute the findings at an Informal Review Hearing
  • Appeal the hearing

Skilled Legal Defense for Licensed Dieticians & Nutritionists in Florida

If you have been accused of an offense where the Florida Board of Medicine may rescind or suspend your license or business activities, contact The Umansky Law Firm to defend you. As seasoned trial lawyers, we can help you develop a strong defense against the claims you face that may include dismissal of the investigation or complaint filed against you. Because we have a criminal defense experience that includes government agencies like the DOH, we are well equipped to defend you in the administrative action and help you avoid license suspension and criminal prosecution.

The Umansky Law Firm’s professional license defense attorneys work with dieticians, nutritionists, doctors, nurses, and some have experience working directly for the Department of Health. To speak with an administrative attorney today about your Florida dietician/nutritionist license, schedule a free consultation by completing a contact form or call today at (407) 228-3838.