Florida Nursing License Defense Attorney

Have you been served with an Administrative Complaint from the Florida Department of Health (FDOH)? Are you concerned about the future of your career and professional reputation because of the complaint filed against you? As a licensed nurse, any complaint lodged against you may have long-term damaging effects on your future and livelihood. Because any license discipline can negatively impact your current employment and future career prospects, it’s vital that your partner with experienced license defense attorneys can fight aggressively to protect your career, reputation, and assets.

At The Umansky Law Firm, our nursing license defense attorneys understand the dedication and sacrifices nurses make every day in this profession. Our attorneys can guide you through this stressful time and advocate on your behalf to protect the nursing license that you’ve worked so hard to accomplish.

What Legal Responsibilities Do Nurses Have in Florida?

Florida Statute Section 464.003(18) defines the practice of professional nursing as:

“The performance of those acts requiring substantial specialized knowledge, judgment, and nursing skill based upon applied principles of psychological, biological, physical, and social sciences which shall include… the observation, assessment, nursing diagnosis, planning, intervention, and evaluation of care; health teaching and counseling of the ill, injured, or infirm; and the promotion of wellness, maintenance of health, and prevention of illness of others…”

Nurses play an essential role in hospitals, private practices, and clinics. Nurses are responsible for transmitting important information between doctors and patients, administering treatments and medications as authorized, caring for patients, and overseeing nurses’ aides.

Why Is Having a Professional License Important for Nurses?

Having a valid nursing license is mandatory for anyone to practice nursing in Florida. There are three different types of licenses available to nurses that include:

  • Registered Nurse (RN)
  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)
  • Certified Nursing Assistant (CAN)

 

Without a valid license, nurses cannot legally care for patients or hold the title as a nurse. It takes years of education and hard work to establish a successful nursing career. Facing disciplinary action against your license can withdraw your ability to continue in this profession and damage your ability to provide for yourself and your family.

If you know of or suspect that any complaint, no matter how minor it may seem, has been filed against you, it’s critical that you hire experienced legal counsel immediately to protect your nursing career.

Who Permits Nursing Licenses in Florida?

In Florida, nurses are licensed by the Board of Nursing. Florida nurses must renew their licenses every two years with the Board to practice legally. The Board of Nursing is responsible for licensing, examinations, training information, and continuing education information for nurses in Florida.

What Are Common Complaints Against Nurses That Might Result in Disciplinary Action?

Under Florida Statute Section 464.016, violations and penalties are outlined for nurses. Many of these infringements include practicing without the proper credentials and a valid nursing license. Patients, doctors, other nurses, employers of nurses, or the general public might file a complaint against a nurse for various reasons, including illegal, unsafe, unethical, or incompetent nursing practices.

Some of the most common complaints against nurses in Florida include:

  • Prescription drug abuse
  • Drug diversion
  • Impaired conduct at work
  • Medication mistakes resulting in patient injury or death
  • Patient abandonment
  • Patient abuse or exploitation
  • Violation of professional boundaries

Allegations of drug diversion have become increasingly frequent for Florida nurses. Drug diversion is identified as redirecting a controlled substance from its original intent. These accusations often arise when a prescription drug is removed but does not get to its registered patient or location. The environment in hospitals, however, can be chaotic. Nurses may ask one another to remove prescription drugs for one another, and sometimes, they are misplaced.

How Are Complaints Lodged Against Nurses in Florida?

The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) performs the investigative and prosecutorial tasks involving Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, and Certified Nursing Assistants regulated by the department and imposes appropriate Florida Statutes. Anyone who wants to file a complaint against a nurse in Florida would do so through the Florida Health Care Complaint Portal.

How Does the Complaint Process Against Nurses Operate in Florida?

After a complaint is filed against a nurse, an investigator from the Department of Health will be assigned to review your case. The investigation involves gathering enough information to determine whether the complaint can proceed to the next step.

Information gathered during an investigation generally includes:

  • Interviewing complainants
  • Interviewing the subject of the complaint
  • Interviewing witnesses
  • Issuing subpoenas
  • Recording sworn statements
  • Gathering documented evidence
  • Readying reports

Most times, the investigator will contact you to ask for a meeting. As a professional nurse, you must not ignore the complaint filed against you. You must contact a knowledgeable lawyer at your first opportunity before the investigator’s meeting. Partnering with a Florida nursing license defense lawyer will allow you to create a thorough and robust reply to the investigation procedure.

Many times, a skilled attorney can end the investigation process before further actions are initiated. At this time, the investigative process is confidential, preventing you from experiencing further harm to your profession or reputation.

The Probable Cause Panel Examines the Complaint

If the investigation secures enough proof to move the allegation to the next step, the complaint will be reviewed by a Probable Cause Panel. That will typically involve members of the Department of Health who review the documents and evidence tied to the complaint.

Throughout this process, it’s crucial that you have your defense lawyer by your side and do not attempt to handle it alone.

The panel review can result in three possible outcomes:

  • Finding “no probable cause”
  • Issuing a “letter of guidance”
  • Issuing a formal Administrative Complaint

A finding of “no probable cause” is a dismissal of the case, which means there was not enough evidence proving that you violated any rule or regulation. A “letter of guidance” is not a disciplinary action, but it’s issued when the panel finds that a minor violation did occur. The most severe outcome is when a formal Administrative Complaint is issued against you.

Process of the Administrative Complaint

An Administrative Complaint against you defines the statements and evidence against you assessed during the investigation, along with the specific laws or regulations that you’re accused of violating. The complaint becomes public record at this point. So, even if the claim is dismissed, your reputation as a nurse can be tarnished. After consulting with your attorney, you can choose to appear at either an Informal Hearing or Formal Hearing.

Informal Hearing

If you choose to move forward with an Informal Hearing, you do not intend to dispute any of the accusations against you, nor do you plan to disclose any new evidence. Instead, you’re acknowledging the complaints, and you’ll face the FDOH and the Board of Medicine where they’ll make a final decision on what penalties will be enforced against you.

Formal Hearing

If you wish to dispute the accusations and evidence found against you during the investigation, you move forward with 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 hears the evidence from both sides and makes a final Recommended Order to the FDOH. The Board of Nursing then makes a final decision concerning disciplinary actions.

If your nursing license is suspended or revoked, you can appeal the decision by filing a judicial review petition. Your lawyer is your most valuable supporter when going through this process – always seek advice from them before making any decisions.

How Can a Nursing License Defense Attorney Help?

At The Umansky Law Firm, our professional license defense team investigates every case in depth to discover the relevant facts and the most effective way to safeguard your nursing license. Sometimes, complaints against nurses, like drug diversion, can go to criminal court and face criminal charges. Having an experienced criminal lawyer who handles professional license defense is a top priority.

Umansky attorneys can help you in many ways, including:

 

  • Review the complaint against you and develop a defense by securing evidence, documents, and witnesses that help you
  • Prevent you from incriminating yourself as you defend against the allegations
  • Defend against potential criminal charges that can arise from the complaint
  • Establish the motive or bias behind the person who made the complaint against you
  • Help you respond to the Probable Cause Investigation by securing documents, witnesses, and other methods to establish there is no probable cause for the complaint
  • Help to try and get the complaint dismissed by the Probable Cause Panel
  • Argue that a guidance letter is better than a prosecution
  • Mitigate any potential punishments the FDOH may want to take
  • Present evidence, witnesses, and cross-examine State’s witnesses at a formal review hearing
  • Help challenge the findings at an informal review hearing
  • Appeal the hearing

Protect Your Nursing Career by Contacting The Umansky Law Firm

If a former patient, colleague, or other individual filed a complaint against you, contact The Umansky Law Firm to secure dependable and experienced advocacy for your professional reputation and future. As experienced trial attorneys, we understand the evidence code and help you create a robust defense for you that may include dismissal of the citation, complaint, or accusation against you.

Attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm include former prosecutors and successful defense lawyers, and some have experience working directly for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). That experience, along with our criminal defense background, enables us to build a strong defense for you and help you avoid license suspension and criminal prosecution in the administrative action. To speak with an experienced medical license defense lawyer, complete an online contact form or call today at (407) 228-3838.