List of Florida Nursing Schools Issuing Phony Diplomas in Operation Nightingale Increases to 19

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

A recent announcement by the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission (NCQAC), now known as the Washington State Board of Nursing, has listed 19 Florida schools that it states are or were involved in the fraudulent scheme investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as “Operation Nightingale.”


What Are the Names of the 19 Phony Florida Nursing Schools?

The 19 schools that NCQAC states were involved in taking nursing students’ money and issuing fake transcripts are:

Carleen Health Institute
Carleen Home Health School II
Ideal Professional Institute, Inc.
Jay College of Health LLC
Med-Life Institute – West Palm Beach
Med-Life Institute of South Florida
Med-Life Institute School of Nursing
Palm Beach School of Nursing
Quisqueya Health Care Academy
Quisqueya School of Nursing
Sacred Heart International Institute Inc.
Siena College of Health
Siena College of Health II LLC
Siena Education Center LLC
Sigma College
Sigma Institute of Health Careers
Sunshine Academy
Techni-Pro Institute
The Enfimye Institute

Some of the “newer” names on the list are owned and operated by some of the same fraudsters involved in the original “Gang of Six.” For example, Jay College of Health, LLC, was owned or operated by the notorious Johanah Napolean, who has been indicted and has been forced to forfeit millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains to the federal government. In reality, we believe there are many more than this.

How Many Have Been Caught and Convicted to Date?

For a list of the individuals who have been involved in the scam and who have been convicted through September 28, 2023, click here.

How Many More Phony Florida Nursing Schools Are There?  Plenty!

We receive calls several times a week from nursing students who have attended “nursing schools” in Florida who state that heir tuition and fees have been taken and they have completed all courses and activities the school required to obtain a diploma but:

a.  The school will not give them their diploma or transcripts or
b.  The school is requiring them to pay more and take more courses than promised or
c.  The school will not approve them to take the NCLEX examination to get a license or
d.  The school and its owners have disappeared, and they can’t get a transcript to transfer.

Why Is All of This Fraud Occurring in Florida?

Why does all of this fraud seem to be occurring in Florida?  It probably is not all of the fraud, only most of the fraud.  We have also heard about phony nursing schools doing business in other states.  But the vast majority of it seems to be in Florida.

Could this be because Florida prides itself in sheltering criminals and con men?  Probably.

Is this because Florida regulatory agencies do not bother to monitor and regulate the schools they approve as they are supposed to.  Most definitely.

Is this because Florida allows the use of shell companies and corporations to routinely defraud people so that the owners can disappear with their money without any consequences?  You know it!

Why do you think the industries of Medicare fraud, Medicaid fraud, and healthcare fraud in general are doing so well here in Florida?

Why doesn’t Florida do something about it?  Because we would lose all of that stolen income that helps support the rich and powerful here, that’s why.

Florida’s history of cons, scams, and fraud goes way back to the real estate salespeople selling Florida swamp land to out-of-state yokels who then moved here only to find the property they purchased was underwater, literally.  And with Cuba only a boat ride away and many friendly Caribbean and South American countries only a direct plane flight away, suitcases full of cash can be spirited out of the country with little trouble.

Are you the victim of a phony nursing school not on the list?

Are you the victim of a phony nursing school not on the list?  Don’t call us; we can’t do anything about these criminals doing this.

Instead, you might consider calling the FBI and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), which is working hand-in-hand with the FBI and the various state nursing boards on these matters.  The NCSBN can get the word out quickly to the states involved.  Tell them you have been victimized by another school that should be part of “Operation Nightingale” and want to file a complaint.

The telephone number for the NCSBN is (312) 525-3600 or (888) 435-8242and ask for the Nursing Regulation Division, Nursing Education Section, or send an e-mail to [email protected] or send a written letter explaining the problem to:

National Council of State Boards of Nursing
Attn: Nurisng Regulation Division, Education Section
111 E. Wacker Drive, Suite 2900
Chicago, IL 60601.

The FBI’s main hotline for reporting possible criminal activity is (800) 225-5324, file a complaint or tip at https://tips.fbi.gov/home. Alternatively, and perhaps better, you can contact the Miami FBI Office, which is the one handling the Operation Nightingale investigation:

FBI Miami Dade Field Office
2030 S.W. 145th Avenue
Miramar, FL 33027
miami.fbi.gov
Phone: (754) 703-2000.

To see the Washington State NCQAC press release naming the 19 schools above, click here.

To see the original Department of Justice Press Release on Operation Nightingale, click here.

Click here to read one of our prior blogs on Operation Nightingale to learn even more.


Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Investigations Against Nurses and Nursing Students.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to nurses, nursing students, and ARNPs in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, licensure defense representation, investigation representation, Department of Health investigations, DOJ investigations, Board of Nursing investigations, formal and informal administrative hearings, emergency suspension orders, emergency restriction orders and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please 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., Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.


Current Open Positions with The Health Law Firm.
The Health Law Firm always seeks qualified individuals interested in health law. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a current member of The Florida Bar or a qualified professional who is interested, please forward a cover letter and resume to: [email protected] or fax them to (407) 331-3030. View a list of open positions here.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2023 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2023-11-13T14:29:41-05:00November 13, 2023|Categories: Nursing Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Florida Nursing Students Sue College For Deceptive NCLEX Scheme

Author Headshot, smiling in dark blue suit with red tie in front of a light tan backgroundBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On December 2, 2022, four nursing students from HCI College (formerly Health Career Institute) in Florida filed a federal class action lawsuit against the school. The students claim the school conducted a “malicious scheme” to block 95% of students from graduating and taking the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). The lawsuit also accuses the nursing school of misrepresenting its accreditation status and NCLEX passage rates.

Critical Details Of The Lawsuit.

The class action, brought by four named plaintiffs, was filed in Federal Court in West Palm Beach. The plaintiffs are demanding to have their loans canceled, and payments refunded and are seeking an injunction to allow all students to take the NCLEX exam.

The suit claims that HCI College misrepresented its accreditation status and lied about its NCLEX pass rates. It also states that it deliberately attempted to prevent students from graduating and taking the NCLEX by unfairly dropping them from the program or forcing them to pay to retake classes that HCI argued were non-transferrable. According to the filing, the school is accused of only graduating students who showed the highest likelihood of passing the NCLEX, thus fraudulently inflating the program’s pass rates.

A History of Alleged Questionable Conduct.

In 2018 and 2019, HCI was put on probation by the Florida Board of Nursing for having NCLEX pass rates below state standards for nursing programs. When they failed to obtain accreditation, the Florida BON terminated the nursing program on August 7, 2019.

Rather than attempt to improve the nursing program and apply for reinstatement, the school allegedly created a “new” program and obtained a different state identification number. They used the same curriculum and same instructors as before, but the “new” program allowed the poor pass rates of prior graduates to be wiped clean.

Then, the college was able to use the guise of this “new” program to mislead students and hide their termination status, lack of accreditation, and the dismal NCLEX pass rates of the “old” program.

The bottom line: creating a “new” program would theoretically buy the college five more years to meet BON accreditation requirements. Despite this, HCI continued to charge students approximately $50,000 in tuition and fees to complete their unfortunately subpar ASN program. Click here to view the plaintiff’s class action and learn more about this case.

HCI College disputes these claims and alleges a disgruntled former faculty member initiated the suit. You can read a statement issued on their website on the status of their Florida accreditation and the fake nursing diploma scheme here.

Key Takeaways From This Case.

This lawsuit and the recent fake nursing diploma scams in Florida highlight the adverse effects of insufficient regulation and oversight in Florida’s nursing education programs. Many nurses and nursing students contact our law firm for legal representation who are in very similar situations to the ones who brought the class action suit.

One must remember that Florida is a hotbed of fraud. Florida laws have always been slanted toward protecting fraudsters and con men. Perhaps the members of the Florida Legislature seem to have the attitude of “There but for fate go I.” Who knows? Corporate laws that allow the creation of shell corporations and companies and allow their owners to remain anonymous abound in Florida. It has always, in recent memory, been known as a “debtor’s haven” where people who owe others money could flee in order to avoid being held civilly liable for their debts.

 

Don’t Wait! Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Investigations Against Nurses and Nursing Students.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to nurses, nursing students, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), CRNA’s and other health professionals in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, license defense hearings, Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, board of nursing investigations, formal and informal administrative hearings, emergency suspension orders, emergency restriction orders, appeals and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Roberts, Ayla. “4 Nursing Students Sue Florida College For Alleged NCLEX Scheme.” Nurse.org. (January 23, 2023). Web.

Bean, McKenzie. “Students sue Florida nursing school, alleging they were blocked from NCLEX.” Becker’s Hospital Review. (February 3, 2023). Web.

“4 Nursing Students Sue Their School Over Deceptive Scheme.” Nurse News Today. (February 13, 2023). Web.

Press Release. “Nursing Students Sue Florida For-Profit School, HCI College, for Deceitful Scheme to Block Students From Taking Licensing Exam and Trap Them in Debt.” The Project on Predatory Student Lending. (February 3, 2023). Web.

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 Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

Current Open Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm always seeks qualified individuals interested in health law. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a current member of The Florida Bar or a qualified professional who is interested, please forward a cover letter and resume to: [email protected] or fax them to (407) 331-3030.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2023 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2023-08-11T12:44:30-04:00September 5, 2023|Categories: Health Facilities Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Nursing Students Sue Florida School For Deceptive NCLEX Scheme

Author Headshot, smiling in dark blue suit with red tie in front of a light tan backgroundBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On December 2, 2022, four nursing students from HCI College (formerly Health Career Institute) in Florida filed a federal class action lawsuit against the school. The students claim the school conducted a “malicious scheme” to block 95% of students from graduating and taking the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). The lawsuit also accuses the nursing school of misrepresenting its accreditation status and NCLEX passage rates.

Critical Details Of The Lawsuit.

The class action, brought by four named plaintiffs, was filed in Federal Court in West Palm Beach. The plaintiffs are demanding to have their loans canceled, and payments refunded and are seeking an injunction to allow all students to take the NCLEX exam.

The suit claims that HCI College misrepresented its accreditation status and lied about its NCLEX pass rates. It also states that it deliberately attempted to prevent students from graduating and taking the NCLEX by unfairly dropping them from the program or forcing them to pay to retake classes that HCI argued were non-transferrable. According to the filing, the school is accused of only graduating students who showed the highest likelihood of passing the NCLEX, thus fraudulently inflating the program’s pass rates.

A History of Alleged Questionable Conduct.

In 2018 and 2019, HCI was put on probation by the Florida Board of Nursing for having NCLEX pass rates below state standards for nursing programs. When they failed to obtain accreditation, the Florida BON terminated the nursing program on August 7, 2019.

Rather than attempt to improve the nursing program and apply for reinstatement, the school allegedly created a “new” program and obtained a different state identification number. They used the same curriculum and same instructors as before, but the “new” program allowed the poor pass rates of prior graduates to be wiped clean.

Then, the college was able to use the guise of this “new” program to mislead students and hide their termination status, lack of accreditation, and the dismal NCLEX pass rates of the “old” program.

The bottom line: creating a “new” program would theoretically buy the college five more years to meet BON accreditation requirements. Despite this, HCI continued to charge students approximately $50,000 in tuition and fees to complete their unfortunately subpar ASN program. Click here to view the plaintiff’s class action and learn more about this case.

HCI College disputes these claims and alleges a disgruntled former faculty member initiated the suit. You can read a statement issued on their website on the status of their Florida accreditation and the fake nursing diploma scheme here.

Key Takeaways From This Case.

This lawsuit and the recent fake nursing diploma scams in Florida highlight the adverse effects of insufficient regulation and oversight in Florida’s nursing education programs. Many nurses and nursing students contact our law firm for legal representation who are in very similar situations to the ones who brought the class action suit.

One must remember that Florida is a hotbed of fraud. Florida laws have always been slanted toward protecting fraudsters and con men. Perhaps the members of the Florida Legislature seem to have the attitude of “There but for fate go I.” Who knows? Corporate laws that allow the creation of shell corporations and companies and allow their owners to remain anonymous abound in Florida. It has always, in recent memory, been known as a “debtor’s haven” where people who owe others money could flee in order to avoid being held civilly liable for their debts.

 

Don’t Wait! Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Investigations Against Nurses and Nursing Students.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to nurses, nursing students, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), CRNA’s and other health professionals in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, license defense hearings, Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, board of nursing investigations, formal and informal administrative hearings, emergency suspension orders, emergency restriction orders, appeals and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Roberts, Ayla. “4 Nursing Students Sue Florida College For Alleged NCLEX Scheme.” Nurse.org. (January 23, 2023). Web.

Bean, McKenzie. “Students sue Florida nursing school, alleging they were blocked from NCLEX.” Becker’s Hospital Review. (February 3, 2023). Web.

“4 Nursing Students Sue Their School Over Deceptive Scheme.” Nurse News Today. (February 13, 2023). Web.

Press Release. “Nursing Students Sue Florida For-Profit School, HCI College, for Deceitful Scheme to Block Students From Taking Licensing Exam and Trap Them in Debt.” The Project on Predatory Student Lending. (February 3, 2023). Web.

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 Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

Current Open Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm always seeks qualified individuals interested in health law. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a current member of The Florida Bar or a qualified professional who is interested, please forward a cover letter and resume to: [email protected] or fax them to (407) 331-3030.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2023 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2023-08-11T12:41:56-04:00August 11, 2023|Categories: Medical Education Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Nursing Students Sue Florida College For Deceptive NCLEX Scheme

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On December 2, 2022, four nursing students from HCI College (formerly Health Career Institute) in Florida filed a federal class action lawsuit against the school. The students claim the school conducted a “malicious scheme” to block 95% of students from graduating and taking the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). The lawsuit also accuses the nursing school of misrepresenting its accreditation status and NCLEX passage rates.

Critical Details Of The Lawsuit.

The class action, brought by four named plaintiffs, was filed in Federal Court in West Palm Beach. The plaintiffs are demanding to have their loans canceled and payments refunded and are seeking an injunction to allow all students to take the NCLEX exam.

The suit claims that HCI College misrepresented its accreditation status and lied about its NCLEX pass rates. It also states that it deliberately attempted to prevent students from graduating and taking the NCLEX by unfairly dropping them from the program or forcing them to pay to retake classes that HCI argued were non-transferrable. According to the filing, the school is accused of only graduating students with the highest likelihood of passing the NCLEX, thus fraudulently inflating the program’s pass rates.

A History of Alleged Questionable Conduct.

In 2018 and 2019, HCI was put on probation by the Florida Board of Nursing for having NCLEX pass rates below state standards for nursing programs. When they failed to obtain accreditation, the Florida BON terminated the nursing program on August 7, 2019.

Rather than attempt to improve the nursing program and apply for reinstatement, the school allegedly created a “new” program and obtained a different state identification number. They used the same curriculum and same instructors as before, but the “new” program allowed the poor pass rates of prior graduates to be wiped clean.

Then, the college was able to use the guise of this “new” program to mislead students and hide their termination status, lack of accreditation, and the dismal NCLEX pass rates of the “old” program.

The bottom line: creating a “new” program would theoretically buy the college five more years to meet BON accreditation requirements. Despite this, HCI continued to charge students approximately $50,000 in tuition and fees to complete their unfortunately subpar ASN program. View the plaintiff’s class action and learn more about this case.

HCI College disputes these claims and alleges a disgruntled former faculty member initiated the suit. You can read a statement issued on their website on the status of their Florida accreditation and the fake nursing diploma scheme here.

Key Takeaways From This Case.

This lawsuit and the recent fake nursing diploma scams in Florida highlight the adverse effects of insufficient regulation and oversight in Florida’s nursing education programs. Many nurses and nursing students contact our law firm for legal representation who are in very similar situations to the ones who brought the class action suit.

One must remember that Florida is a hotbed of fraud. Florida laws have always been slanted toward protecting fraudsters and con men. Perhaps the members of the Florida Legislature seem to have the attitude of “There but for fate go I.” Who knows? Corporate laws that allow the creation of shell corporations and companies and allow their owners to remain anonymous abound in Florida. It has always, in recent memory, been known as a “debtor’s haven” where people who owe others money could flee to avoid being held civilly liable for their debts.

Don’t Wait! Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Investigations Against Nurses and Nursing Students.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to nurses, nursing students, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), CRNA’s and other health professionals in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, license defense hearings, Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, board of nursing investigations, formal and informal administrative hearings, emergency suspension orders, emergency restriction orders, appeals and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Roberts, Ayla. “4 Nursing Students Sue Florida College For Alleged NCLEX Scheme.” Nurse.org. (January 23, 2023). Web.

Bean, McKenzie. “Students sue Florida nursing school, alleging they were blocked from NCLEX.” Becker’s Hospital Review. (February 3, 2023). Web.

“4 Nursing Students Sue Their School Over Deceptive Scheme.” Nurse News Today. (February 13, 2023). Web.

Press Release. “Nursing Students Sue Florida For-Profit School, HCI College, for Deceitful Scheme to Block Students From Taking Licensing Exam and Trap Them in Debt.” The Project on Predatory Student Lending. (February 3, 2023). Web.

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., Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

Current Open Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm always seeks qualified individuals interested in health law. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a current member of The Florida Bar or a qualified professional who is interested, please forward a cover letter and resume to: [email protected] or fax them to (407) 331-3030.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2023 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

By |2023-05-03T14:56:39-04:00May 3, 2023|Categories: Nursing Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Phony Florida Nursing Diploma Scam: Federal Criminal Indictments in “Operation Nightingale”

Attorney George F. Indest III Headshot

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

In January 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the prosecution of a massive fake nursing diploma scheme against three Florida-based nursing schools. The investigation has now expanded to include at least eight (8) nursing schools.

The investigation has now resulted in charges against 25 people in five states and found evidence that they allegedly worked to “sell” more than 7,600 fake diplomas, along with school transcripts, between 2016 and 2021. Click here to learn more.

The Federal Indictment.

We have obtained a copy of the federal indictment filed against the individual owners, operators, and staff members whom the FBI alleges were committing crimes, including selling diplomas and transcripts. View the federal indictment filed in the investigation to check for any names you recognize by clicking here: https://www.thehealthlawfirm.com/uploads/Nursing%20School%20Indictment.pdf.

Additionally, you can view other helpful press releases and documents on “Operation Nightingale” on our website here.

Concerns We Have About This Investigation.

We have several concerns about this investigation based on the nurses we spoke with. As usual, the events that have resulted in this “scandal” have been going on for as many as eight years. Nothing has been done until recently, and then it is as though a tornado has just hit. We are concerned about what we view as a massive overreaction that is resulting in many babies being thrown out with the bad bath water.

What seems to have been overlooked is that these nursing schools were all accredited by the proper accreditation bodies until this happened. We have clients who contacted the Florida Board of Nursing, which affirmed that the schools were legitimate, accredited schools before our clients enrolled in them and only enrolled after being assured that they were.

In many cases, our clients and others with whom we have spoken attended other accredited nursing schools but then transferred to one of the Florida schools and received credits for their transferred courses. There was and is nothing illegal or wrong about this. We have spoken to many nurses who took all required courses to become nurses, performed their clinical, graduated, received diplomas, took the NCLEX (national nursing) examination, passed, and became licensed nurses. Some of these have been practicing for years. Some have been practicing for only days. Yet now, they are all getting letters telling them they are being investigated for possible fraud. It is devastating to many who worked so hard to become nurses.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Investigations Against Nurses and Nursing Students.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to nurses, nursing students, and ARNPs in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, nursing board cases, Department of Health investigations, DOJ and FBI investigations, Board of Nursing investigations, formal and informal administrative hearings, emergency suspension orders, emergency restriction orders and other types of investigations of nurses and other health professionals.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please 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., Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

Current Open Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm always seeks qualified individuals interested in health law. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a current member of The Florida Bar or a qualified professional who is interested, please forward a cover letter and resume to: [email protected] or fax them to (407) 331-3030.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2023 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

Feds Charge 25 Individuals in Massive Fake Nursing Diploma Scheme in Florida

Author HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On January 25, 2023, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) launched a multi-state coordinated law enforcement action to apprehend individuals engaged in a scheme to sell false and fraudulent nursing degree diplomas and transcripts. The enforcement action resulted in the execution of search warrants in Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Texas, and Florida. 25 individuals have been charged in the Southern District of Florida for their alleged participation in a fraud scheme that created an illegal licensing and employment shortcut for aspiring nurses.

The defendants include “owners, operators, and employees” of the schools who “prepared and sold the fake nursing school diplomas and transcripts, knowing that the candidates would use those false documents to sit for nursing board examinations, secure nursing licenses, and ultimately obtain nursing jobs in medical facilities not only in Florida but elsewhere across the country,” officials said. Additional defendants charged include “recruiters” to bring in would-be buyers.

Operation Nightingale.

The scheme sold fake and fraudulent nursing degree diplomas and transcripts obtained from accredited Florida-based nursing schools to aspiring Registered Nurse (RN) and Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse (LPN/VN) candidates. The nursing schools, Siena College, Palm Beach School of Nursing, and Sacred Heart International Institute, are now closed.

Officials said nursing candidates who allegedly participated in the scheme would pay as much as $15,000 for the fraudulent diplomas.

The individuals who acquired the fraudulent nursing credentials used them to qualify to sit for the national nursing board exam. Upon completing the board exam, the nursing applicants became eligible to obtain licensure in various states to work as an RN or an LPN/VN. Once licensed, the individuals could get employment in the healthcare field. The overall scheme resulted in the distribution of more than 7,600 fake nursing diplomas and transcripts.

Each defendant faces up to 20 years in prison. Learn more about “Operation Nightingale” from the OIG here.

Dangerous Healthcare Licensing and Credentialing Shortcuts.

We expect our healthcare professionals to be who they claim they are. We expect that they’ve had the proper training and credentialing. “Specifically when we talk about a nurse’s education and credentials – shortcut is not a word we want to use,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Markenzy Lapointe. “When we take an injured son or daughter to a hospital emergency room, we don’t expect that the licensed practical nurse or registered nurse training our child took a shortcut.” The scheme enabled these nursing candidates allegedly buying the fake diplomas “to avoid hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of clinical training countless hours getting that experience,” Lapointe said. “These people didn’t go through that. That part was completely skipped.”

This fraud scheme is a public safety concern and tarnishes the reputation of nurses who complete the demanding clinical work required to obtain their professional licenses and employment. Additionally, it can erode public trust in our healthcare system. The alleged selling and purchasing of nursing diplomas and transcripts to willing but unqualified individuals is a serious crime that can endanger the health and safety of patients.

Click here to view the U.S. Department of Justice press release.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Investigations Against Nurses and Nursing Students.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to nurses, nursing students, and ARNPs in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, licensure defense representation, investigation representation, Department of Health investigations, DOJ investigations, Board of Nursing investigations, formal and informal administrative hearings, emergency suspension orders, emergency restriction orders and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Pezenik, Sasha. “Feds announce massive takedown of fraudulent nursing diploma scheme.” ABC News. (January 27, 2023). Web.

D’Angelo, Bob. “Operation Nightingale: 25 charged in fake nursing diploma scheme in Florida.” Cox Media Group. (January 27, 2023). Web.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “2023 Operation Nightingale Enforcement Action.” (January 26, 2023). Web.

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., Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

Current Open Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm always seeks qualified individuals interested in health law. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a current member of The Florida Bar or a qualified professional who is interested, please forward a cover letter and resume to: [email protected] or fax them to (407) 331-3030.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2023 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida Department of Health and Law Enforcement Investigate School Providing Nurse Practitioner Courses

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

A subpoena purportedly issued by the Clerk of Court for Seminole County, Florida, recently requested academic records on advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) students, including preceptorship agreements for clinical courses they had taken. A follow-up inquiry revealed that the Florida Department of Health was behind the subpoena, seeking evidence concerning possible fraudulent practices involving the supervision of those clinicals.

Apparently South University, which has its main campus and headquarters located in Savannah, Georgia, but offers courses in Florida, had agreements with one or more physicians in the Orlando area to furnish training for nurse practitioner students within their medical practices. Under the terms of the agreement, the physician was required to provide a nurse practitioner to supervise the student taking the clinicals.

However, what is being investigated is the allegation that no nurse practitioners were actually used to supervise those clinicals and the students. Instead, it is apparently being alleged that the names of various licensed advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) were used without their knowledge and put down as the supervisors for those students’ clinicals. Supposedly at least 20 names of nurse practitioners have been fraudulently used in this manner. Apparently the names of the nurse practitioners were also fraudulently signed to attestations that the students had actually completed the hours of clinical training. Usually there were four quarters or rotations of clinicals required of each student, encompassing hundreds of hours of clinical time.

It is estimated that over 100 advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) students went through this program and graduated. Based on their advanced degrees, they were licensed as advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) by the Florida Department of Health.

Will those unsupervised student clinical hours be disallowed?

The question is whether action will be taken by the Florida Department of Health, or another organization, to disallow those clinical nurse practitioner hours gained by students in this manner. If so, many who are currently licensed as nurse practitioners who went through this program may lose their licenses and be required to retake required clinical hours. Both the students and the college were apparently unaware of the fraudulent activity.

This case is reminiscent of the massage therapist cases rising in 2012.

This situation seems somewhat similar to the situation that over 180 Florida licensed massage therapists (LMTs) found themselves during 2012. Click here to read one of our prior blogs on this story.

In the case of the massage therapists, each of them had taken courses and graduated from a school in another state. However, when they moved to Florida they had to have the courses re-certified by a Florida approved college and take the additional required courses for Florida licensure. They went to a well known, reputable private college offering massage therapy courses. They paid their tuition and were provided documentation showing that their out of state credits had been transferred in. They were provided other documents by the college showing that they had completed all course requirements and met the standards for licensure. They received their Florida licenses based on this.

Later it was discovered that the registrar at that college had actually been stealing the tuition money paid by these massage therapists and not enrolling them in the college. She was falsifying college documents, including course completion certificates, diplomas, transcripts and other documents using the college’s official seal on them. To see a class action law suit filed discussing this scheme in greater detail, click here.

When the Florida Department of Health found out about this situation, it reacted in a “knee-jerk” fashion and did an emergency suspension of hundreds of massage therapist’s licenses, many of them with no advance notice to the massage therapists. To see a blog I wrote on this, click here.

Hundreds of massage therapist who could not afford to pay a lawyer to mount a legal defense wound up having their licenses revoked or felt compelled to voluntary relinquish their licenses. They lost their national certification in massage therapy because of this.

However, the massage therapists who challenged the revocation and demanded a formal administrative hearing on it, many of whom we represented, were successful in keeping their licenses, mainly because they were not at fault and did not know what the crooked registrar was doing.

Actions to take if you are a nurse practitioner notified of licensure action or that you are under investigation:

Following are the recommendations we would make to any potential client contacting us who has been notified that he or she may be under investigation by the Florida Department of Health or law enforcement authorities:

1. Do not talk to or make any statement, oral or written, to any investigator without first consulting with an experienced health law attorney.

2. Immediately obtain the services of an experienced health law attorney to represent you in the case.

3. Check with your professional liability insurance carrier for any professional liability insurance you had at the time or currently have to see if they will cover the matter. Your current policy may not cover it unless you had it when the events occurred. However, it might.

4. Do not respond to any subpoena for records for testimony until you have consulted with an experienced health law attorney. Even a current professional liability insurance policy should cover you in responding to a subpoena or if a deposition is sought.

5. Do not, under any circumstances, voluntarily relinquish your license, without retaining any experienced health law attorney familiar with this matter to represent you. Such a relinquishment may be the equivalent of a revocation and reported to national reporting bodies as such.

6. If charges arise and you are offered the right to a hearing, always elect a formal administration hearing at which you dispute the issues. Do not elect an informal hearing. In an informal hearing, you have to agree that the charges against you are true, in effect, admitting you are guilty. Do not make that common mistake.

If you desire to see information on emergency suspension orders and emergency restriction orders, click here.

 

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Department of Health (DOH) Investigations of Nurse Practitioners.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to nurses, nursing students and ARNPs in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, licensure defense representation, investigation representation, Department of Health investigations, Board of Nursing investigations , administrative hearings, emergency suspension orders, emergency restriction orders and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 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.

KeyWords: Legal representation for nurses, legal representation for nursing students, legal representation for ARNPs, legal representation for ARNP students, Licensure Defense Representation, Investigation Representation, Department of Health Investigations, Board of Nursing Investigations , Administrative Hearings, Emergency Suspension Orders, Emergency Restriction Orders, nurse attorney, legal representation for health care professionals, health law defense attorney, nursing student defense attorney, ARNP defense attorney, legal representation for licensure issues, legal representation for medical students, legal representation for investigations of health care professionals, DOH investigation defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

 

Florida Department of Health and Law Enforcement Investigate School Providing Nurse Practitioner Courses

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

A subpoena purportedly issued by the Clerk of Court for Seminole County, Florida, recently requested academic records on advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) students, including preceptorship agreements for clinical courses they had taken. A follow-up inquiry revealed that the Florida Department of Health was behind the subpoena, seeking evidence concerning possible fraudulent practices involving the supervision of those clinicals.

Apparently South University, which has its main campus and headquarters located in Savannah, Georgia, but offers courses in Florida, had agreements with one or more physicians in the Orlando area to furnish training for nurse practitioner students within their medical practices. Under the terms of the agreement, the physician was required to provide a nurse practitioner to supervise the student taking the clinicals.

However, what is being investigated is the allegation that no nurse practitioners were actually used to supervise those clinicals and the students. Instead, it is apparently being alleged that the names of various licensed advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) were used without their knowledge and put down as the supervisors for those students’ clinicals. Supposedly at least 20 names of nurse practitioners have been fraudulently used in this manner. Apparently the names of the nurse practitioners were also fraudulently signed to attestations that the students had actually completed the hours of clinical training. Usually there were four quarters or rotations of clinicals required of each student, encompassing hundreds of hours of clinical time.

It is estimated that over 100 advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) students went through this program and graduated. Based on their advanced degrees, they were licensed as advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) by the Florida Department of Health.

Will those unsupervised student clinical hours be disallowed?

The question is whether action will be taken by the Florida Department of Health, or another organization, to disallow those clinical nurse practitioner hours gained by students in this manner. If so, many who are currently licensed as nurse practitioners who went through this program may lose their licenses and be required to retake required clinical hours. Both the students and the college were apparently unaware of the fraudulent activity.

This case is reminiscent of the massage therapist cases rising in 2012.

This situation seems somewhat similar to the situation that over 180 Florida licensed massage therapists (LMTs) found themselves during 2012. Click here to read one of our prior blogs on this story.

In the case of the massage therapists, each of them had taken courses and graduated from a school in another state. However, when they moved to Florida they had to have the courses re-certified by a Florida approved college and take the additional required courses for Florida licensure. They went to a well known, reputable private college offering massage therapy courses. They paid their tuition and were provided documentation showing that their out of state credits had been transferred in. They were provided other documents by the college showing that they had completed all course requirements and met the standards for licensure. They received their Florida licenses based on this.

Later it was discovered that the registrar at that college had actually been stealing the tuition money paid by these massage therapists and not enrolling them in the college. She was falsifying college documents, including course completion certificates, diplomas, transcripts and other documents using the college’s official seal on them. To see a class action law suit filed discussing this scheme in greater detail, click here.

When the Florida Department of Health found out about this situation, it reacted in a “knee-jerk” fashion and did an emergency suspension of hundreds of massage therapist’s licenses, many of them with no advance notice to the massage therapists. To see a blog I wrote on this, click here.

Hundreds of massage therapist who could not afford to pay a lawyer to mount a legal defense wound up having their licenses revoked or felt compelled to voluntary relinquish their licenses. They lost their national certification in massage therapy because of this.

However, the massage therapists who challenged the revocation and demanded a formal administrative hearing on it, many of whom we represented, were successful in keeping their licenses, mainly because they were not at fault and did not know what the crooked registrar was doing.

Actions to take if you are a nurse practitioner notified of licensure action or that you are under investigation:

Following are the recommendations we would make to any potential client contacting us who has been notified that he or she may be under investigation by the Florida Department of Health or law enforcement authorities:

1. Do not talk to or make any statement, oral or written, to any investigator without first consulting with an experienced health law attorney.

2. Immediately obtain the services of an experienced health law attorney to represent you in the case.

3. Check with your professional liability insurance carrier for any professional liability insurance you had at the time or currently have to see if they will cover the matter. Your current policy may not cover it unless you had it when the events occurred. However, it might.

4. Do not respond to any subpoena for records for testimony until you have consulted with an experienced health law attorney. Even a current professional liability insurance policy should cover you in responding to a subpoena or if a deposition is sought.

5. Do not, under any circumstances, voluntarily relinquish your license, without retaining any experienced health law attorney familiar with this matter to represent you. Such a relinquishment may be the equivalent of a revocation and reported to national reporting bodies as such.

6. If charges arise and you are offered the right to a hearing, always elect a formal administration hearing at which you dispute the issues. Do not elect an informal hearing. In an informal hearing, you have to agree that the charges against you are true, in effect, admitting you are guilty. Do not make that common mistake.

If you desire to see information on emergency suspension orders and emergency restriction orders, click here.

 

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Department of Health (DOH) Investigations of Nurse Practitioners.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to nurses, nursing students and ARNPs in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, licensure defense representation, investigation representation, Department of Health investigations, Board of Nursing investigations , administrative hearings, emergency suspension orders, emergency restriction orders and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 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.

KeyWords: Legal representation for nurses, legal representation for nursing students, legal representation for ARNPs, legal representation for ARNP students, Licensure Defense Representation, Investigation Representation, Department of Health Investigations, Board of Nursing Investigations , Administrative Hearings, Emergency Suspension Orders, Emergency Restriction Orders, nurse attorney, legal representation for health care professionals, health law defense attorney, nursing student defense attorney, ARNP defense attorney, legal representation for licensure issues, legal representation for medical students, legal representation for investigations of health care professionals, DOH investigation defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

 

Florida Department of Health and Law Enforcement Investigate School Providing Nurse Practitioner Courses

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

A subpoena purportedly issued by the Clerk of Court for Seminole County, Florida, recently requested academic records on advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) students, including preceptorship agreements for clinical courses they had taken. A follow-up inquiry revealed that the Florida Department of Health was behind the subpoena, seeking evidence concerning possible fraudulent practices involving the supervision of those clinicals.

Apparently South University, which has its main campus and headquarters located in Savannah, Georgia, but offers courses in Florida, had agreements with one or more physicians in the Orlando area to furnish training for nurse practitioner students within their medical practices. Under the terms of the agreement, the physician was required to provide a nurse practitioner to supervise the student taking the clinicals.

However, what is being investigated is the allegation that no nurse practitioners were actually used to supervise those clinicals and the students. Instead, it is apparently being alleged that the names of various licensed advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) were used without their knowledge and put down as the supervisors for those students’ clinicals. Supposedly at least 20 names of nurse practitioners have been fraudulently used in this manner. Apparently the names of the nurse practitioners were also fraudulently signed to attestations that the students had actually completed the hours of clinical training. Usually there were four quarters or rotations of clinicals required of each student, encompassing hundreds of hours of clinical time.

It is estimated that over 100 advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) students went through this program and graduated. Based on their advanced degrees, they were licensed as advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) by the Florida Department of Health.

Will those unsupervised student clinical hours be disallowed?

The question is whether action will be taken by the Florida Department of Health, or another organization, to disallow those clinical nurse practitioner hours gained by students in this manner. If so, many who are currently licensed as nurse practitioners who went through this program may lose their licenses and be required to retake required clinical hours. Both the students and the college were apparently unaware of the fraudulent activity.

This case is reminiscent of the massage therapist cases rising in 2012.

This situation seems somewhat similar to the situation that over 180 Florida licensed massage therapists (LMTs) found themselves during 2012. Click here to read one of our prior blogs on this story.

In the case of the massage therapists, each of them had taken courses and graduated from a school in another state. However, when they moved to Florida they had to have the courses re-certified by a Florida approved college and take the additional required courses for Florida licensure. They went to a well known, reputable private college offering massage therapy courses. They paid their tuition and were provided documentation showing that their out of state credits had been transferred in. They were provided other documents by the college showing that they had completed all course requirements and met the standards for licensure. They received their Florida licenses based on this.

Later it was discovered that the registrar at that college had actually been stealing the tuition money paid by these massage therapists and not enrolling them in the college. She was falsifying college documents, including course completion certificates, diplomas, transcripts and other documents using the college’s official seal on them. To see a class action law suit filed discussing this scheme in greater detail, click here.

When the Florida Department of Health found out about this situation, it reacted in a “knee-jerk” fashion and did an emergency suspension of hundreds of massage therapist’s licenses, many of them with no advance notice to the massage therapists. To see a blog I wrote on this, click here.

Hundreds of massage therapist who could not afford to pay a lawyer to mount a legal defense wound up having their licenses revoked or felt compelled to voluntary relinquish their licenses. They lost their national certification in massage therapy because of this.

However, the massage therapists who challenged the revocation and demanded a formal administrative hearing on it, many of whom we represented, were successful in keeping their licenses, mainly because they were not at fault and did not know what the crooked registrar was doing.

Actions to take if you are a nurse practitioner notified of licensure action or that you are under investigation:

Following are the recommendations we would make to any potential client contacting us who has been notified that he or she may be under investigation by the Florida Department of Health or law enforcement authorities:

1. Do not talk to or make any statement, oral or written, to any investigator without first consulting with an experienced health law attorney.

2. Immediately obtain the services of an experienced health law attorney to represent you in the case.

3. Check with your professional liability insurance carrier for any professional liability insurance you had at the time or currently have to see if they will cover the matter. Your current policy may not cover it unless you had it when the events occurred. However, it might.

4. Do not respond to any subpoena for records for testimony until you have consulted with an experienced health law attorney. Even a current professional liability insurance policy should cover you in responding to a subpoena or if a deposition is sought.

5. Do not, under any circumstances, voluntarily relinquish your license, without retaining any experienced health law attorney familiar with this matter to represent you. Such a relinquishment may be the equivalent of a revocation and reported to national reporting bodies as such.

6. If charges arise and you are offered the right to a hearing, always elect a formal administration hearing at which you dispute the issues. Do not elect an informal hearing. In an informal hearing, you have to agree that the charges against you are true, in effect, admitting you are guilty. Do not make that common mistake.

If you desire to see information on emergency suspension orders and emergency restriction orders, click here.

 

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Department of Health (DOH) Investigations of Nurse Practitioners.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to nurses, nursing students and ARNPs in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, licensure defense representation, investigation representation, Department of Health investigations, Board of Nursing investigations , administrative hearings, emergency suspension orders, emergency restriction orders and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 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.

KeyWords: Legal representation for nurses, legal representation for nursing students, legal representation for ARNPs, legal representation for ARNP students, Licensure Defense Representation, Investigation Representation, Department of Health Investigations, Board of Nursing Investigations , Administrative Hearings, Emergency Suspension Orders, Emergency Restriction Orders, nurse attorney, legal representation for health care professionals, health law defense attorney, nursing student defense attorney, ARNP defense attorney, legal representation for licensure issues, legal representation for medical students, legal representation for investigations of health care professionals, DOH investigation defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

 

Florida Department of Health and Law Enforcement Investigate School Providing Nurse Practitioner Courses

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

A subpoena purportedly issued by the Clerk of Court for Seminole County, Florida, recently requested academic records on advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) students, including preceptorship agreements for clinical courses they had taken. A follow-up inquiry revealed that the Florida Department of Health was behind the subpoena, seeking evidence concerning possible fraudulent practices involving the supervision of those clinicals.

Apparently South University, which has its main campus and headquarters located in Savannah, Georgia, but offers courses in Florida, had agreements with one or more physicians in the Orlando area to furnish training for nurse practitioner students within their medical practices. Under the terms of the agreement, the physician was required to provide a nurse practitioner to supervise the student taking the clinicals.

However, what is being investigated is the allegation that no nurse practitioners were actually used to supervise those clinicals and the students. Instead, it is apparently being alleged that the names of various licensed advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) were used without their knowledge and put down as the supervisors for those students’ clinicals. Supposedly at least 20 names of nurse practitioners have been fraudulently used in this manner. Apparently the names of the nurse practitioners were also fraudulently signed to attestations that the students had actually completed the hours of clinical training. Usually there were four quarters or rotations of clinicals required of each student, encompassing hundreds of hours of clinical time.

It is estimated that over 100 advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) students went through this program and graduated. Based on their advanced degrees, they were licensed as advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) by the Florida Department of Health.

Will those unsupervised student clinical hours be disallowed?

The question is whether action will be taken by the Florida Department of Health, or another organization, to disallow those clinical nurse practitioner hours gained by students in this manner. If so, many who are currently licensed as nurse practitioners who went through this program may lose their licenses and be required to retake required clinical hours. Both the students and the college were apparently unaware of the fraudulent activity.

This case is reminiscent of the massage therapist cases rising in 2012.

This situation seems somewhat similar to the situation that over 180 Florida licensed massage therapists (LMTs) found themselves during 2012. Click here to read one of our prior blogs on this story.

In the case of the massage therapists, each of them had taken courses and graduated from a school in another state. However, when they moved to Florida they had to have the courses re-certified by a Florida approved college and take the additional required courses for Florida licensure. They went to a well known, reputable private college offering massage therapy courses. They paid their tuition and were provided documentation showing that their out of state credits had been transferred in. They were provided other documents by the college showing that they had completed all course requirements and met the standards for licensure. They received their Florida licenses based on this.

Later it was discovered that the registrar at that college had actually been stealing the tuition money paid by these massage therapists and not enrolling them in the college. She was falsifying college documents, including course completion certificates, diplomas, transcripts and other documents using the college’s official seal on them. To see a class action law suit filed discussing this scheme in greater detail, click here.

When the Florida Department of Health found out about this situation, it reacted in a “knee-jerk” fashion and did an emergency suspension of hundreds of massage therapist’s licenses, many of them with no advance notice to the massage therapists. To see a blog I wrote on this, click here.

Hundreds of massage therapist who could not afford to pay a lawyer to mount a legal defense wound up having their licenses revoked or felt compelled to voluntary relinquish their licenses. They lost their national certification in massage therapy because of this.

However, the massage therapists who challenged the revocation and demanded a formal administrative hearing on it, many of whom we represented, were successful in keeping their licenses, mainly because they were not at fault and did not know what the crooked registrar was doing.

Actions to take if you are a nurse practitioner notified of licensure action or that you are under investigation:

Following are the recommendations we would make to any potential client contacting us who has been notified that he or she may be under investigation by the Florida Department of Health or law enforcement authorities:

1. Do not talk to or make any statement, oral or written, to any investigator without first consulting with an experienced health law attorney.

2. Immediately obtain the services of an experienced health law attorney to represent you in the case.

3. Check with your professional liability insurance carrier for any professional liability insurance you had at the time or currently have to see if they will cover the matter. Your current policy may not cover it unless you had it when the events occurred. However, it might.

4. Do not respond to any subpoena for records for testimony until you have consulted with an experienced health law attorney. Even a current professional liability insurance policy should cover you in responding to a subpoena or if a deposition is sought.

5. Do not, under any circumstances, voluntarily relinquish your license, without retaining any experienced health law attorney familiar with this matter to represent you. Such a relinquishment may be the equivalent of a revocation and reported to national reporting bodies as such.

6. If charges arise and you are offered the right to a hearing, always elect a formal administration hearing at which you dispute the issues. Do not elect an informal hearing. In an informal hearing, you have to agree that the charges against you are true, in effect, admitting you are guilty. Do not make that common mistake.

If you desire to see information on emergency suspension orders and emergency restriction orders, click here.

 

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Department of Health (DOH) Investigations of Nurse Practitioners.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to nurses, nursing students and ARNPs in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, licensure defense representation, investigation representation, Department of Health investigations, Board of Nursing investigations , administrative hearings, emergency suspension orders, emergency restriction orders and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 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.

KeyWords: Legal representation for nurses, legal representation for nursing students, legal representation for ARNPs, legal representation for ARNP students, Licensure Defense Representation, Investigation Representation, Department of Health Investigations, Board of Nursing Investigations , Administrative Hearings, Emergency Suspension Orders, Emergency Restriction Orders, nurse attorney, legal representation for health care professionals, health law defense attorney, nursing student defense attorney, ARNP defense attorney, legal representation for licensure issues, legal representation for medical students, legal representation for investigations of health care professionals, DOH investigation defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

 

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