Medical License Defense
We understand the dedication and hard work it takes to become a physician and we work hard to help our client protect their medical licenses. We will work hard to protect your license, reputation and assets while helping to alleviate the stress in defending medical licensing claims.
Medical License Disciplinary Process
The disciplinary process usually starts with a complaint filed with the Florida Department of Health (DOH) by a colleague, employer, patient or other interested party. DOH will assign an investigator to the case, who usually has nothing more to go on other than the complaint. Contact a license defense attorney before speaking with the DOH. 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. Determining what information to provide and what information to to hold back in the investigation stage can be critical, so it is important to retain an attorney early in the process.
If an investigator finds evidence that a physician has violated the professional code, evidence is submitted to DOH for review. If DOH finds probable cause that grounds for discipline exist, an administrative complaint seeking disciplinary action against the physician’s medical license may be filed. Once a complaint if filed, a professional must respond very quickly, and failure to respond will result in the loss of any rights to challenge the action. Objections to the procedures used in reaching the complaint stage must also be made very quickly, so it is critical to contact an attorney quickly upon learning of any investigation or other action.
Physicians have a protected interest in their licenses and are entitled to a hearing before DOH may take discipline against their licenses. If a physician receives an administrative complaint or suspension order, he or she must request a hearing. A petition for a hearing must be received within 21 days of the receipt of any complaint. Failure to petition for a hearing before the deadline is a waiver of the right to a hearing, and a waiver to contest discipline. It is therefore critical to timely respond.
The Florida Statutes permit the Department of Health to immediately suspend the license of a medical professional when the DOH determines that sufficient evidence exists to establish that the professional is a danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the public. The circumstances in which such suspensions should be granted are limited, and specific requirements exist for the DOH to immediately suspend a license. When an immediate suspension is issued, the professional may file an appeal with the District Court of Appeal, which must be heard on an expedited basis. There are a number of procedural steps that should be taken, and the appellate court has been fairly strict in ensuring that emergency suspensions are only utilized when necessary, and when no reasonable alternatives exist. Failing to file for the expedited appellate review, however, results in a loss of the right to appeal or challenge the emergency suspension.
Even when an emergency order is issued, the professional still has the right to challenge the allegations in an administrative complaint, and the same processes for challenging allegations apply even when an emergency order is issued. We have found that it is important for attorneys representing a licensed professional to recognize circumstances which could potentially lead to emergency suspensions, and try to take steps to avoid the considerable embarrassment that the issuance of an emergency suspension order can create.
However, if DOH believes the physician is a danger to the health, safety or welfare of the public, a medical license may be revoked without a hearing. In those cases, a physician is entitled to a hearing after the suspension order, but before formal action is taken against the medical license.
Licensees who receive an administrative complaint may choose to have an informal or formal hearing before final action is taken by the medical board. Formal hearings are held before an administrative law judge and are conducted in a similar fashion to other trials, and the formal rules of evidence apply. Informal hearings are held before the licensing board. An informal hearing does not permit the licensee to dispute the allegations in the administrative complaint, and instead the facts are deemed admitted in an informal hearing. In a formal hearing, DOH must prove its case by providing clear and convincing evidence, and a number of other protections apply in a formal hearing.
You worked hard for your license, and it is important to protect your career. If you have received notice from the Department of Health or Florida Board of Medicine or are aware of an investigation into your conduct, we urge you to contact us immediately.
The type of hearing that is best for you depends on the facts of your case. Before you submit your petition for a hearing to DOH, contact Delegal Law Offices.
Failure to Report
In Florida, you must report certain criminal matters within 30 days to DOH. For more information, see Failure to Report to Conviction Board.
Questionnaires and Labor Law Issues
Recent Awards: Tad Delegal Presented the 2017 Non-Compete Seminar portion of the Florida Bar's Certification Review Course