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Who Enforces Health and Safety Law?

Health and Safety laws are regulated by various agency officials and theses are arguably the most crucial jobs in our community. Most people do not take the time to adequately research their healthcare providers prior to receiving healthcare services or medication. However, several agencies have been established to safeguard and regulate the health and safety of the healthcare services that consumers receive. These agencies can’t replace individual due diligence but they make every attempt to prevent patient harm and to eliminate fraudulent activity in the healthcare system.

Florida Department of Health

The Florida Department of Health (DOH) was the first accredited public health system in the United States. Their mission is to protect and improve on the health of all people in Florida by regulating healthcare practitioners and facilities. They offer programs and services for the Florida community, but they are also responsible for the licensing and regulation of various healthcare practitioners and facilities. Various healthcare professions must be licensed and are regulated via the Florida Department of Health such as: medical doctors, acupuncturist, optometrists, and many more. Certain facilities such as piercing salons and pharmacies are also regulated by the Department of Health. Complaints can be filed against any of the practitioners or facilities, which will then be investigated by an officer for violations. The complaint is referred over to the Probably Cause Panel, which will determine whether to file an Administrative Complaint against the healthcare provider based on the weight of the evidence that is provided by the complainant and the provider who under investigation. It is not uncommon for the DOH to place an emergency restriction on a provider’s license if they pose an imminent danger to patient safety. If a violation is found, the Department of Health will determine appropriate disciplinary action to enforce the regulations, which includes, probation, suspension, or even revocation of a healthcare provider’s license.

Agency for Health Care Administration

The Agency for Health Care Administration (“AHCA”) was established in Florida to regulate the Medicaid system and healthcare providers who offer services to Medicaid beneficiaries. AHCA administers background screening, compiles healthcare data, and monitors the quality of care and civil rights complaints within healthcare facilities. They also license various healthcare facilities throughout Florida such as assisted living facilities, health care clinics, home health agencies, and many more.

Department of Health and Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services has a family of agencies to provide services on local levels through state and county agencies. Some of these agencies include:

  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) proposes and publishes regulations yearly for those programs under medicare.gov, healthcare.gov, and more. CMS also enforces compliance with clearinghouses and healthcare providers and conducts audits regularly. CM provides health coverage to more than 100 million people through Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Health Insurance Marketplace. CMS seeks to strengthen and modernize the Nation’s health care system, to provide access to high quality care and improved health at lower costs.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) is one of the most widely known organizations within the Department of Health and Human Services. The mission statement of the CDC to protect the America people from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S. Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate attack, CDC fights disease and supports communities and citizens to do the same. CDC increases the health security of our nation. As the nation’s health protection agency, CDC saves lives and protects people from health threats. The CDC conducts critical science and provides health information that protects America against expensive and dangerous health threats, and responds when these arise. This is a science based organization that works to protect communities from health threats. The U.S. Secretary for Human and Health Services has authorized the CDC to carry out and enforce functions for isolation and quarantine to prevent exposure to contagious diseases.
  • The Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) is another department within the Department of Health and Human Services that works to improve the efficiency of many health based programs. They are the largest office in the Federal Government. They investigate complaints based on fraud, waste, abuse, and misconduct. The majority of the agency’s resources go towards the oversight of Medicare and Medicaid — programs that represent a significant part of the Federal budget and that affect this country’s most vulnerable citizens. The OIG has the authority to exclude individuals and entities from Federally funded health care programs for a variety of reasons, including a conviction for Medicare or Medicaid fraud. Those that are excluded can receive no payment from Federal health care programs for any items or services they furnish, order, or prescribe. This includes those that provide health benefits funded directly or indirectly by the United States (other than the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan).
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation. The FDA conducts research on various food and drug safety protocols. They create reports to share with the general public to spread accurate information. The FDA also works closely with drug manufacturers to ensure the production of safe and effective drugs. They are accountable for overseeing quality control, delays, and discontinuations of drugs and medications. The agency works closely to reduce or prevent shortages. The supervision and regulation of the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of tobacco products to protect the public health and to reduce tobacco use by minors is also a crucial role played by the FDA.

 

These are just a few of the hundreds of agencies established to protect our communities from safety and health emergencies. Each agency regulates their own sections within each community or program.

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It should be noted that I am not your lawyer (unless you have presently retained my services through a retainer agreement). This post is not intended as legal advice, it is purely educational and informational, and no attorney-client relationship shall result after reading it. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice. If you do not have one and would like to retain my legal services, please contact me using the contact information listed above.

All information and references made to laws, rules, regulations, and advisory opinions were accurate based on the law as it existed at this time, but laws are constantly evolving. Please contact me to be sure that the law which will govern your business is current. Thank you.

 

Do Doctors and Nurses Have to Self-Report to the Florida Department of Health if Arrested?

In our society, Medical Professionals have always been held to a higher-than-average standard. Doctors, nurses, and physicians must abide by several professional rules of conduct that not many other employees have to keep in mind. This in turn also means that your personal life is up for scrutiny as well. Ethical standards and moral values are usually private assumptions but for those who have chosen the medical field, those normally private matters can have a deep affect your employment status. Any serious off-duty conduct issue must be reported, reviewed, and taken care of on a case-by-case basis.

Florida Requirements for Self-Reporting

In Florida, doctors are required to report all criminal activities committed after they receive their medical license even though it is not in relation to employment and occurs after regular working hours. Any report or complaint filed towards a medical professional will be investigated by the Florida Department of Health. Being placed under arrest can trigger disciplinary action from the state licensing boards. Medical disciplinary actions require a much lower burden of proof than federal cases. It is possible to be penalized, face Medicare/Medicaid exclusion, and potentially have your license revoked based on the severity of the crime and investigation. It is entirely possible that a physician can face the loss of their medical license even if an investigation does not result in criminal prosecution and a conviction at a trial.

Complaints Against Medical Professionals

The most common criminal concerns leading to the harshest disciplinary actions towards a medical professional involve healthcare fraud, solicitation, moral turpitude, dishonesty, or deceit in any jurisdiction in the state. According to the Florida Department of Health’s website, they do not carry out complaints regarding the fees charged for individual procedures, missed, or cancelled appointments, unfair customer service, rudeness or disrespect, bedside manner, professionalism or personality conflicts again medical professionals.

Complaints against medical professionals can lead the Board of Medicine to issue citations based on the type of and severity of the complaint. It is completely free to file complaints against medical professionals. The only potential fees may be for requesting copies of medical records if deemed necessary. Complaints remain confidential until the panel determines reasonable cause, and a violation is issued.

How to Report

According to the Florida Board of medicine, all criminal activities after receiving your medical license must be timely reported. The Board provides various options for reporting including email, online service portal, or via regular mail. If a complaint is issued via sending an email or letter, the correspondence must include the date of the offense, the activity that happened, and the county and state of jurisdiction. The complaint cannot reach processing without the proper information.

The Florida Department of Health’s Medical Quality Assurance (MQA) launched a user-friendly online portal. The portal was developed in collaboration with the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to allow for easy reporting of any complaints again medical providers from fraud to unlicensed activity and violations. The portal offers education on the different federal agencies for complaints as well.

See below for email, website and address:

MQAOnlineService@FLHealth.Gov
www.mqa-vo.doh.state.fl.us./datamart/voservicesportal
Florida Department of Health

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It should be noted that I am not your lawyer (unless you have presently retained my services through a retainer agreement). This post is not intended as legal advice, it is purely educational and informational, and no attorney-client relationship shall result after reading it. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice. If you do not have one and would like to retain my legal services, please contact me using the contact information listed above.

 All information and references made to laws, rules, regulations, and advisory opinions were accurate based on the law as it existed at this time, but laws are constantly evolving. Please contact me to be sure that the law which will govern your business is current. Thank you.

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