Defense Attorney for Pharmacists in Florida

Have you been notified of an Administrative Complaint brought against your Florida pharmacist license? Are you worried about the effects that the complaint may have on your reputation and profession? A complaint filed against a licensed pharmacist in Florida can have harmful effects that might include substantial monetary fines, a restriction on services rendered, defamation of character, and, at worst, a rescinded license.

As a licensed pharmacist, one of your top concerns is having a trustworthy and dependable professional reputation. Even if you think the complaint filed against your license has no merit, it is essential to your career to take appropriate measures to address it as soon as possible. After you’ve been notified of an Administrative Complaint against you, reach out to an experienced professional license defense attorney to protect your future career as a licensed Florida pharmacist.

What Legal Responsibilities Do Pharmacists in Florida Have?

Pharmacists’ responsibilities involve monitoring and distributing medication, compounding medication, and cooperating with physicians to provide pharmaceutical information to patients. Pharmacists often offer health advice to patients and explain the appropriate use of medicines while supervising other pharmacy technicians and interns.

According to Florida Statute 465.003(13), the practice of professional pharmacy includes:

“…compounding, dispensing, and consulting concerning contents, therapeutic values, and uses of any medicinal drug; consulting concerning therapeutic values and interactions of patent or proprietary preparations, whether pursuant to prescriptions or in the absence and entirely independent of such prescriptions or orders; and conducting other pharmaceutical services.”

As a licensed pharmacist, it’s your legal responsibility to provide medicines to patients who require them in a secure and professional setting. Part of that responsibility is maintaining a specific standard of care. Failing to do this can result in a complaint and a subsequent investigation.

Why Is It Important for Pharmacists to Have a Valid License in Florida?

Having a valid license is required for a pharmacist to practice legally in Florida. Pharmacists must meet rigid standards to be licensed in Florida to ensure they have the necessary training and education to keep individuals safe when distributing medications.

 

 

Without a valid Florida license, pharmacists cannot treat patients or legally call themselves pharmacists. Demonstrating licensure also instills trust in patients and other healthcare professionals who pharmacists work closely with. A loss of license would hinder a pharmacist’s capacity to make a living and provide the same standard of living for themselves and their family.

Who Licenses Pharmacists in Florida?

To be licensed as a pharmacist in Florida, individuals must meet the education and work experience requirements and apply through the Florida Board of Pharmacy described under Florida Statute 465.007. This Board was created to “ensure that every pharmacist practicing in this state and every pharmacy meets the minimum requirement for safe practices.”

What Complaints Might Lead to Disciplinary Action Against a Pharmacist?

There are various reasons why someone might complain about a pharmacist. The most frequent complaints are accusations that a pharmacist demonstrated unprofessional conduct or deviated from pharmaceutical care standards.

Some of the most common complaints include:

  • Acting in an unprofessional manner
  • Abuse of prescription drugs or alcohol
  • Using illegal drugs
  • Inappropriately prescribing controlled substances
  • Prescribing the incorrect medication
  • Being convicted of a crime that was related to their practice as a pharmacist
  • Drug-related offenses of any kind by the individual or the pharmacy in which they work
  • Practicing without a valid Florida license
  • Willfully selling or giving away drugs to a known addict
  • Obtaining a license by misrepresentation or fraud

A pharmacist accused of any of these acts or violations outlined under Florida Statute 465.016 may be subject to an investigation for license suspension or withdrawal.

How Does Someone Lodge a Complaint Against a Pharmacist?

The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) performs investigative and prosecutorial functions involving pharmacists in Florida. Anyone who wishes to file a complaint against a pharmacist would do so through the Florida Health Care Complaint Portal.

How Does the Complaint Process Work in Florida?

When a pharmacist receives a complaint, an investigator from the Board of Pharmacy or the FDOH will review it. The investigation is made by collecting enough information to determine whether the complaint can go on to the next step.

Information collected during an investigation usually includes:

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

Often, the investigator will contact you to ask for a meeting. One mistake that pharmacists sometimes make is failing to respond adequately or at all to the investigation notice, perhaps out of belief that it is groundless. As a licensed professional, it’s imperative that any complaint made against you is treated seriously and that you contact an experienced professional license attorney as soon as possible before meeting with the investigator.

With a skilled professional license defense attorney’s help, you’ll develop a thorough and robust response to the investigation procedure. Often, an experienced attorney can stop the investigation process before further actions are initiated. During the initial investigation process, the complaint remains confidential, preventing further damage to your reputation or career.

The Probable Cause Panel Reviews the Complaint

If the investigation secures enough evidence to move the complaint to the next phase, the complaint will be reviewed by a Probable Cause Panel. That will typically involve members on the Board of Pharmacy and the FDOH who examine the records and evidence related to the complaint.

Throughout this process, it’s essential to have your defense attorney and for you to not attempt to manage the situation alone. The panel review can result in three possible outcomes:

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

A finding of “no probable cause” means there was not enough evidence to prove that you violated any law or regulation. A “letter of guidance” is not a disciplinary action but can still harm your reputation. If a formal Administrative Complaint is issued against you, the Administrative Complaint process moves forward with the next step.

Process of an Administrative Complaint

An Administrative Complaint against you defines the statements and evidence against you assessed during the investigation and the specific laws or regulations you’re accused of violating. The complaint becomes public record at this point, so even if it is dismissed, your reputation as a pharmacist can be tarnished. Following consultations with your lawyer, you can choose whether you want to attend an Informal Hearing or Formal Hearing.

Informal Review

If you decide to proceed with an Informal Hearing, you do not intend to dispute any charges against you, nor do you wish to bring any new evidence forward. Instead, you acknowledge the complaints and will face the Board again. The Board will then make a definitive decision on what penalties will be enforced against you.

Formal Review

If you wish to dispute the claims and charges against you during the investigation, you proceed to a Formal Hearing. This hearing is before Florida’s Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) and presided over by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ hears the evidence from both sides and makes a final Recommended Order to the Board of Pharmacy and FDOH. The Board then makes a final decision regarding disciplinary actions.

You can appeal the decision by filing a judicial review petition if your pharmacist’s license is suspended or rescinded. Your lawyer is your most valuable ally as you go through this process—always consult with them before making any decisions.

How Can a Professional License Defense Lawyer Help?

At The Umansky Law Firm, our professional license defense team investigates every case in detail to uncover the facts and the most effective way to safeguard your pharmacist license. As a whole, some complaints against pharmacists can go to criminal court—especially those involving substance abuse—and you could face criminal charges. Having an experienced criminal lawyer who handles professional license defense is crucial.

Umansky professional license defense attorneys can help you in a wide range of ways:

  • 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 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 establish there is no probable cause for the complaint
  • Try to get the complaint dismissed by the Probable Cause Panel
  • Argue that a guidance letter is better than a prosecution
  • Mitigate any potential punishments the Board or FDOH may want to take
  • Present evidence, witnesses, and cross-examine the State’s witnesses at a formal review hearing
  • Help challenge the findings at an informal review hearing
  • Appeal the hearing

Experienced Legal Representation for Pharmacists in Orlando

If you have been accused of committing an act that may prompt the Florida Board of Pharmacy to withdraw your license, contact The Umansky Law Firm to defend your license and career. As experienced trial lawyers, we understand the evidence code. We can help prepare a strong defense for you that might include dismissal of the citation, complaint, or charge against you.

Attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm include former prosecutors and defense lawyers, and some have experience working directly for the Department of Health. This experience and our criminal defense background allow us to construct a robust defense for you and help you avoid license suspension and criminal prosecution in the administrative action. To speak with a skilled pharmacist license defense lawyer, complete an online contact form or call today (407) 228-3838.