By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
Someone arrested for a criminal offense knows that it can lead to a criminal record that may or may not be on your record for the rest of your life. However, once you pay your fine and carry out any other disciplinary action the court has ordered, you expect the consequences to be over. In many cases, the arrest and offense can even be sealed or expunged so that it is no longer on your record. However, in the case of someone who desires to apply for a license in the health care field or who is already licensed, this is not the end of the consequences you will face.
For healthcare professionals, a criminal charge can mean being disqualified from obtaining a license or losing your license to practice. Conviction of certain criminal offenses may even mean exclusion from being a Medicare provider or termination from the state Medicaid Program, which can also be grounds for revoking your license. Criminal charges against a health professional can have serious and long-lasting consequences.
How Criminal Charges Impact Your Professional License.
Licensing authorities are charged by statute with protecting the general public, not the individuals they regulate. Most state laws regulating health practitioners include criminal convictions as one of the grounds for denial or discipline of a professional license. Some state laws (for example, Florida’s) allow the state licensing authority to impose discipline upon a nolo contendere (no contest) plea or even when adjudication is withheld or deferred by the court.
State regulatory authorities can and do impose discipline based on the facts underlying a conviction, even when the conviction itself is not directly related to the practice of a profession. For example, a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) or reckless driving may raise the question with the licensing authority of whether the practitioner could be impaired or reckless while providing patient care. The licensing authority will likely investigate these matters and the facts underlying the offense to determine if the practitioner threatens the public.
Therefore, if you have been arrested for DUI, disorderly conduct, assault, or any other misdemeanor, you can anticipate that the state, the Department of Health (DOH), or the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs will start an investigation. You must retain an attorney who can immediately defend your freedom during your criminal case and protect your livelihood during licensing proceedings.
Mandatory Report of Conviction of Felony or Misdemeanor Charge.
In the event of a conviction, this may trigger a required report to the state licensing board within a certain period. Some states only require a report at the time of renewal of the license. Other states require a report within thirty days of the disposition of the offense. Still others, like Florida, may have multiple actions the provider must take in such instances.
For example, certain licensed health professionals in Florida must maintain an online provider profile. Those who must maintain a profile in Florida include medical doctors, podiatrists, nurse practitioners, and chiropractors. State law requires that for any change in the information required on the profile (a conviction, for example), the profile must be updated within fifteen (15) days. In addition, Florida law requires a written report be made to the professional licensing board of any licensed health provider within thirty (30) days of the disposition of the offense.
Suppose you have been arrested and are facing felony or misdemeanor charges. In that case, you must seek the advice and experience of an attorney who can help you and your criminal defense attorney to analyze different outcomes to help protect your license.
Health professionals who have been arrested generally want their criminal cases resolved as quickly and quietly as possible. Unfortunately, they may inadvertently accept a plea arrangement that results in later severe discipline or revocation of their professional license. All health professionals and their criminal defense attorneys should consider the consequences of the practitioner’s license before accepting a plea arrangement and should consult with an experienced health law attorney. Click here to read one of our prior blogs for more information on this.
Remember, your health profession is probably your only means of support. You must realize that you may need additional legal help from an experienced healthcare attorney to maintain it.
The disciplinary process is often long and extremely costly. The effects of discipline on your license can follow you for the remainder of your career and is publicly available to anyone who cares to look. If you have been arrested, it is strongly recommended that you retain an experienced healthcare attorney who can advise you and your criminal counsel on the effects of a potential outcome on your license.
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Handling Licensure Matter and Disciplinary Matters.
The Health Law Firm routinely represents physicians, pharmacists, dentists, nurses, mental health counselors, social workers, and other health practitioners in licensure matters. We frequently consult with criminal defense attorneys regarding defense strategies tailored to minimizing criminal sanctions while at the same time preserving the practitioner’s license.
To contact The Health Law Firm, call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.
Attorney Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm is always looking for qualified attorneys interested in health law practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a member of The Florida Bar and are interested, forward a cover letter and your resume to: PAlexander@TheHealthLawFirm.com or fax to: (407) 331-3030.
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