At the Florida Board of Dentistry meeting held on November 21, 2014, it discussed a proposed change to Rule 64B5-13.0046, Florida Administrative Code. The amendment would add a provision for failing to timely produce dental records to patients. This addition should help dentists avoid receiving permanent discipline on their records for a minor technical violation.
Considered was the addition of the following language to the existing Rule, listing citation-approved offenses:
Violation of subsection 466.028(1)(n), F.S., failure to timely make available to a patient or client, or to his legal representative or to the Department, if authorized in writing by the patient, copies of documents in the possession or under control of the licensee, which relate to the patient or client. Timely means less than 30 days from the receipt of the written authorization. The subject of the citation has 10 days from the date the citation becomes a final order to release the patient records. Failure to comply will result in a $1,000.00 fine.
Citation vs. Charge.
An administrative citation such as those discussed is not considered to be discipline, but an alternative to discipline. The dentist can accept the citation and pay the fine; therefore the citation will not be recorded on his/her record as discipline. For more on this issue, read my blog on citations against physicians and other health professionals.
This is a good development for dentists as it allows the resolution of minor technical violations of statutes and rules without the very undesirable effect of creating a disciplinary record. We sometimes jokingly refer to these as “speeding tickets” since they carry a fine but are not considered to be permanent disciplinary action.
Carefully Review and Promptly Respond in Citation Cases.
Take immediately action on any proposed citation you receive from the Department of Health (DOH). Consult immediately with a health attorney who is experienced at representing dentists in Board of Dentistry matters. Click here for a previous blog on why you should speak with an attorney first.
In most cases, you will probably be advised to accept the citation and pay the fine. If so, be sure to submit the signed agreement, ending it by a method that documents sending and receipt (such as certified mail, return receipt requested), and keep a copy of all documents you submit. Make sure it is received (not sent) by the due date. Call to make sure it was received.
For additional information on citations in disciplinary cases, click here.
In Limited Circumstances, You May Not Want to Accept the Citation.
In limited circumstances, it may not be advisable to accept a citation. This may occur if there is pending litigation involving the subject of the citation. If the wrong person is named in the citation, this may be another reason for not accepting it. If you did not commit the offense and you are sure you can prove this, you may also desire to not accept the citation. This is especially true if you have dental liability insurance coverage which pays for a legal defense in such administrative disciplinary cases involving professional license defense.
For more information on dental license defense, read this previous blog.
If You Do Not Accept the Citation, Be Prepared for an Administrative Complaint.
If you do not accept the citation within the limited time given (usually 30 days), or if you send back a statement regarding why it is unfair or why you did not commit the violation, this will usually be treated as a statement disputing material facts. In this event, the case will be treated as though you were requesting a formal administrative hearing. You will be given a regular formal hearing (trial) with an administrative law judge from the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH). For information on hearings in dental cases, click here.
Be Sure Your Staff Knows How to Treat Record Requests.
Be sure that when your office receives a request for a patient’s dental chart that the request is promptly reviewed by someone in management. Management must make sure the authorization or subpoena is valid (remember HIPAA) and that the record is provided in a timely manner. Paying attention to such requests may allow you to detect and act on potential dental medical malpractice claims or DOH complaints. You should have a written office policy on this that every employee has signed.
Remember you are not authorized to withhold a patient’s dental record because the patient has not paid a bill. You are not authorized to withhold the chart because you are angry at the patient or the patient has threatened to sue you. Be sure to provide the patient (or his/her representative) a copy of the record within 30 days. Keep a copy of the letter transmitting the copy in the chart and annotate the HIPAA medical information disclosure form in the record.
What do you think of a citation versus a charge in regard to promptly getting patients their dental records? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.
Consult With An Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Dentists.
We routinely provide deposition coverage to dentists, dental hygienists and other health professionals being deposed in criminal cases, negligence cases, civil cases or disciplinary cases involving other health professionals.
The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in both formal and informal administrative hearings and in representing dentists and dental hygienists and other health professionals in investigations and at Board of Dentistry hearings. Call now or visit our website http://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.
The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.Copyright © 1999-2015 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.