In Florida, the disciplinary process starts with a complaint filed with the Florida Department of Health (DOH) by a colleague, employer, patient or other interested party. DOH assigns an investigator who has nothing more than the complaint to go on. He or she will call or write attempting to set up a meeting with the health professional. Before you meet with anyone, consult a professional licensing attorney for a consultation. There is very little time for a physician to hire an attorney to evaluate the issues before the investigator tries to file a complaint or a hearing is scheduled.
The Investigator is Not Your Friend
Many health professionals attempt to resolve investigations and disciplinary and licensing issues on their own. Their attempts to resolve matters with the investigators are often unsuccessful. Health professionals often make the matter worse by mistaking the investigator’s friendliness as a desire to work with the provider to explain their case and dismiss the complaint. The investigator’s job is to gather information to file a formal complaint. Health professionals should keep an attorney present at the meeting with the investigator. An experienced attorney can present information to the investigator in a favorable light, while protecting information that may be used against the health professional if an administrative complaint is filed. An attorney will also be able to spot weaknesses in the investigator’s case and may be able to persuade them to dismiss the investigation. While the complaint may have no grounds, the potential risk of damage to your career far outweigh the cost an attorney. Often an experienced attorney can help get a complaint dismissed or greatly reduce the sanctions taken.
We have a great deal of experience representing health professionals with investigations, administrative complaints, suspensions and other disciplinary actions. We will work with state investigators, on behalf of our client, to resolve problems before a formal administrative complaint is filed. In order to ensure that we have sufficient time to collect information, health professionals should contact us as soon as they are made aware of an investigation into their conduct.
If you have received a letter from the Florida licensing board, or are aware of a DOH investigation, call us immediately. We can help determine the best course of action and represent you at the meeting with a state investigator.
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