Will Florida Board of Medicine Follow Board of Pharmacy’s Lead and Recommend PRN Evaluations for Applicants Before Application is Considered?
By Lance Leider, J.D., The Health Law Firm
At the February 12, 2014, Florida Board of Pharmacy meeting, some board members expressed frustration with the fact that applicants for licensure with prior mental health or substance abuse related issues had not been evaluated by the Professionals Resource Network (PRN) prior to the consideration of their applications by the Board. The applications were scheduled for consideration, but applicants were told to come back after they had PRN evaluations. This recommendation by the Board of Pharmacy could have potentially serious consequences for applicants.
So far, the Board of Pharmacy is the only Board we are aware of to make such a recommendation. We are waiting to see if the Board of Medicine or other professional boards follows suit.
No Statutory Requirement to Get Preemptive PRN Evaluation.
The Board of Pharmacy’s recommendation that any applicants with “positive health history responses” seek out a PRN evaluation prior to submitting the application is not a course of action we would recommend for nurses, doctors, pharmacists or any healthcare provider. There is no statutory requirement that an applicant with past or present drug or alcohol issues be evaluated by PRN prior to submitting an application to any professional board.
Issues with Submitting to Preemptive PRN Evaluation.
Submitting to a PRN evaluation places the applicant at the mercy of the organization and its appointed evaluator. If an applicant is deemed by PRN to require monitoring there is likely no way that a license of any kind will ever be issued without the blessing of PRN.
Typically PRN monitoring contracts last for five years. They require, among many other things: daily check-ins for drug and alcohol screens; frequent mental or substance abuse evaluations; weekly support meetings; possible restrictions on practice type and location; psychiatric following; total abstinence from all non-approved medications; total abstinence from alcohol; and notification of present and future employment.
In a word, PRN contracts are onerous.
Submitting to a PRN evaluation before your application is considered by the Board may serve to effectively waive your right to individual consideration of your application. If PRN says you need to be monitored, there is likely no way that the Board of Medicine will grant you a license that is not conditional on your participation in the program.
Your license will likely be listed as “Active/Obligations” instead of “Clear/Active.” This means that any member of the public, coworker, employer, insurer, etc., can look you up and see that you are under some kind of practice restriction. While the exact conditions of your obligation may not be publicly available, you can bet that questions will come.
The Alternative to a Preemptive PRN Evaluation.
Because no Board has the right to force you to have a PRN evaluation prior to considering your application, there are several things that you can do to avoid the program. The Board of Medicine is required to review every application on its own merits. This means that you can supplement your application with recommendations and evaluations from your own physicians.
The Board of Medicine often considers the recommendations of treating physicians and counselors as evidence that an applicant is safe to practice. What this means is that you can obtain your own evaluation outside of the PRN program. Such an evaluation would not have the potential of locking you into a monitoring contract before you have even applied.
A health care professional’s career rides entirely on his or her license to practice. It is not advisable that you face the Board of Medicine without at least consulting with a health law attorney.
Contact a Health Law Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Physicians and Other Health Care Providers Before the Board of Medicine.
The Health Law Firm and its attorneys are experienced in dealing with the Board of Medicine, PRN, and license applications. Our attorneys can help you get your application and supporting documentation together and present it to the Board in the most effective way possible.
Our firm has extensive experience in representing physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other professionals accused of drug abuse, alcohol impairment, mental impairment and sexual boundary issue, as well as in dealing with the Professionals Resource Network (PRN), its advantages and disadvantages, its contracts, its personnel, and its policies and procedures.
For more information please visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com or call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001.
What do you think about the recommendation made by the Board of Pharmacy to get a preemptive PRN evaluation? Do you think any other board will make the same recommendation? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.
About the Author: Lance O. Leider is an attorney with 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, Altamonte Springs, Florida 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.
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