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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.

How Can A Foreign Trained Doctor Obtain A Florida Medical License?

Doctors from around the world may decide that they would like to practice medicine in the State of Florida. Maybe it’s because of the beautiful weather and white sandy beaches, no state income taxes, its proximity to Latin America and the Caribbean, large immigrant and tourist population and Florida’s world-renowned hospitals and healthcare providers. No matter the reason, the process of moving to Florida to practice medicine has its challenges. These challenges may seem insurmountable without guidance from experienced attorneys. There’s a two-step process to practicing medicine in Florida: (1) the immigration visa process and (2) obtaining your license to practice medicine in Florida.

 

Certification and Residency Programs

Foreign Doctors wishing to practice clinical medicine in an unsupervised setting must be licensed by the Florida Board of Medicine (or Board of Osteopathic Medicine). All Doctors including those trained outside the U.S. are required to pass all four tests of the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) in order to obtain their Florida Medical License. International Medical Graduates (IMG) must be certified by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). To become certified by ECFMG, an IMG must pass three USMLE exams, consisting of 1 multiple choice exam and two separate exams testing clinical knowledge and clinical skills.

Once a doctor receives ECFMG certification, she may apply for a hospital residency. The Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) is the most common way for doctors to enter into a residency program, which can last from three to eight years depending on the specialty that the IMG is seeking. Doctors have to complete a residency program regardless of their overseas training. IMGs who have received a visa are eligible to apply for a residency program in the United States.

Doctors are encouraged to apply to a minimum of 20 or more programs to increase their odds of “matching” or being accepted into a residency program. Registration can be completed through the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), which can match you to a residency program based on individual preferences.

 

Licensure by Examination

According to Fla. Stat. §458.311, Any person desiring to be Florida licensed physician, who does not hold a valid license in any state may submit an application to the Florida Department of Health (DOH). The DOH has to certify that the person has: (a) completed the application form and paid the application fee; (b) is at least 21 years of age; (c) is of good moral character; (d) has not committed any act or offense in this or any other jurisdiction which would constitute the basis for disciplining a physician; and (e) if you graduated from medical school after October 1, 1992 you can prove that you have completed the equivalent of 2 academic years of pre-professional, post-secondary education prior to entering medical school.

Additionally, there are several medical education and postgraduate training requirements. A foreign doctor may satisfy this requirement if they can show that they graduated from an allopathic (or osteopathic) foreign medical school registered with the World Health Organization and certified pursuant to Florida statute as having met the standards required to accredit medical schools in the United States or reasonably comparable standards. If the language of instruction of the foreign medical school is other than English, the doctor must demonstrate competency in English through presentation of the ECFMG English proficiency certificate or by a satisfactory grade on the Test of Spoken English of the Educational Testing Service or similar test approved by the rule of the board. Finally, they must have completed an approved residency of at least 1 year.

Alternatively, if the doctor graduated from an allopathic foreign medical school which has not been certified pursuant to Florida statute, she may still be eligible if she has had her medical credentials evaluated by the ECFMG, holds an active, valid certificate issued by the ECFMG and has passed the examination used by the ECFMG. The doctor is also required to have completed an approved residency of at least 1 year, unless they graduated after October 1, 1992, then the applicant is required to have completed and approved residency or fellowship of at least 2 years in one specialty area.

The applicant also has to submit their fingerprints to the DOH for a criminal background check to be conducted. The Board of Medicine will not certify to the DOH any applicant for licensure who is under investigation in another jurisdiction for an offense which would constitute a violation of the laws pertaining to medical doctors until the investigation is completed.  Finally, the applicant has to obtain a passing score on the USMLE.

In spite of those doctors who have graduated from foreign medical schools which have not been certified pursuant to Florida statute, a graduate of a foreign medical school is not required to present the certificate issued by the ECFMG or pass the examination utilized by the ECFMG if they have: (a) received a bachelor’s degree from an accredited United States college or university; (b) studied at a medical school which is recognized by the World Health Organization; (c) completed all of the formal requirements of the foreign medical school, except the internship or social service requirements, and has passed part I of the National Board of Medical Examiners examination or the ECGMG examination equivalent; and (d) has completed an academic year of supervised clinical training in a hospital affiliated with a medical school approved by the Council on Medical Education of the American Medical Association and upon completion has passed part II of the National Board of Medical Examiners examination or the ECFMG examination equivalent.

 

Licensure by Endorsement

According to Fla. Stat. §458.313, a doctor can obtain a Florida medical license by endorsement if they apply and the board certifies that: (a) she has met the requirements of paragraphs (b)-(g) for licensure by examination; (b) obtained a passing score on the USMLE after January 1, 2000; and (c) has submitted evidence of active licensed practice of medicine in another jurisdiction, for at least 2 of the immediately preceding 4 years, or evidence of successful completion of either a board-approved postgraduate program within 2 years preceding filing of an application or a board-approved clinical competency examination within the year preceding the filing of an application for licensure.

“Active licensed practice of medicine” means the practice of medicine by physicians, including those employed by any governmental entity in community or public health, medical directors who are practicing medicine, and active teaching faculty of an accredited medical school. The Board of Medicine may require an application for licensure by endorsement to take and pass the appropriate licensure examination prior to certifying the applicant as eligible for licensure.

 

Conclusion

 There are tens of thousands of unlicensed foreign-trained doctors throughout the U.S. who have medical training and experience but are unable to practice in the United States. By the year 2030, experts anticipate that the US will be facing a shortage of roughly 100,000 doctors throughout the country. Spanish-speaking doctors and other foreign language speaking doctors are in high demand. Unfortunately, thousands of foreign doctors living in the US are working as waiters, parking garage attendants and other jobs that don’t utilize their medical training because they are unable to obtain their license. Florida lawmakers have used Fla. Stat. §456.021(1) to express their desire to encourage the use of foreign-speaking Florida residents duly qualified to become actively qualified in their professions so that all people of this state may receive better services. To this end, legislators passed a law stating that all persons who have successfully completed their studies and are deemed qualified for examination for a professional license must take that examination in English unless 15 or more applicants request that examination be administered in their native language. If you are able to obtain a Florida medical license you would be helping to alleviate the physician shortage and provide healthcare services to those who are in desperate need of doctors who speak the same language and have similar cultural backgrounds.

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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.

Can a Registered Nurse Administer Botox?

**UPDATE: AS OF 09/13/2023**

A Declaratory Statement has been issued by the Florida Board of Nursing allowing for a nurse with the appropriate level of education, training, and experience to administer Botox under the supervision of a physician. A declaratory statement is not the appropriate means for determining the conduct of another person or for obtaining a policy statement of general applicability. The issuance of this Declaratory Statement does not mean that all registered nurses can administer Botox, rather that determination must be made on a case-by-case basis. See article here.

Those who run med spas, dental or dermatology practices are concerned about whether a registered nurse on staff can administer Botox without their direct supervision. Allowing them to do so would free up the physician’s schedule so that he can perform other procedures that his personnel is not permitted to do.

According to the Florida Board of Medicine, there are no laws and rules that address who can and cannot administer Botox injections in the state of Florida.

However, a 2017 Board of Nursing case[1] involved a Florida licensed Registered Nurse who was alleged to have violated Florida Statutes 456 and/or 464. In March 2016, the nurse administered Botox to multiple patients on multiple occasions. The Board of Nursing found that the nurse did not perform the Botox injections pursuant to a valid physician’s order. The Board of Nursing held that performing Botox injections without a physician’s order is beyond the scope permitted by law. Further, the nurse had reason to know that she was not competent to perform the Botox injections.

The Board referenced Florida Statute 464.018(1)(h) in its decision by stating that unprofessional conduct as defined by the board is grounds for disciplinary action. The Board also referred to Florida Administrative Code Rule 64B9-8.005(13), which provides that unprofessional conduct includes practicing beyond the scope of the licensee’s license, educational preparation or nursing experience. (emphasis added). Finally, the Board stated that the nurse engaged in unprofessional conduct by practicing beyond the scope of her license, educational preparation and/or nursing experience by performing Botox injections without a valid physician’s order.

In Florida, practicing medicine without a license is considered a 2nd degree misdemeanor. Additionally, the nurse could have had the following actions taken against her:

  1. license suspended or permanently revoked;
  2. restriction of practice;
  3. imposition of an administrative fine;
  4. issuance of reprimand;
  5. probation;
  6. refund of fees billed or collected;
  7. remedial education; and/or
  8. any other relief that he Board deemed appropriate.

Two things should be taken away from the decision in this case. First, just because there isn’t a specific law on the books regarding Botox injections doesn’t make it legal for a registered nurse to administer it to patients. Second, I thought that it was interesting that the Board stated that the nurse was not performing the Botox injections pursuant to a physician’s order. Many would view this sentence as specifically allowing a nurse to administer Botox injections only in situations where the nurse is doing so pursuant to a physician’s orders (not an NP, PA, ARNP). I don’t believe that to be true because the Board went on to state that even pursuant to a physician’s orders a registered nurse does not possess the requisite educational preparation to perform the procedure and that doing so would be practicing beyond the scope of her nursing license.

[1] Department of Health v. Trisha Lorraine White, R.N. Case Number 2016-13884

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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 of the information and references made to laws, 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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