Types of Disciplinary Actions Taken By the Board of Massage Therapy

By Castillana F. Duvernay, J.D.

The Florida Board of Massage Therapy can take disciplinary actions against you and your massage establishment if you are not adhering to the rules and regulations set forth by the Board of Massage Therapy and the statutes that govern the practice of massage.

We see common themes and issues that arise at Board of Massage Therapy meetings. This blog will highlight some of these issues and provide tips on how you can avoid being disciplined.

The Practice Act for Massage Therapists Requires Disclosure of Prior Disciplinary History.

If you did not disclose your prior disciplinary history (prior criminal conviction, prior discipline on a professional license) on your application, this may subject you to an administrative complaint by the Florida Department of Health and the Board of Massage Therapy.

Not disclosing disciplinary history information is a violation of Section 480.046(1)(p), Florida Statutes, and Section 480.041(6), Florida statutes. It is imperative that you answer the history questions on your application truthfully. Answering the questions truthfully will help speed up your application.

Licensed Massage Establishment.

In Florida, the practice of massage therapy is governed by Florida Statutes. The Department of Health is the umbrella agency that is charged with enforcing the laws and rules and is over the Board of Massage Therapy.

It is a felony offense to practice, attempt to practice, or offer to practice a regulated healthcare profession, including massage therapy, without possessing a valid license. Reflexology is included under massage therapy and requires a license in Florida.

Working at a massage parlor that isn’t duly licensed is a violation of Section 480.043(1), Florida Statutes, which states: “No massage establishment shall be allowed to operate without a license granted by the department in accordance with the rules adopted by the board.”

Before working for a massage establishment or opening up your own massage parlor, it is imperative that you have the proper documentation to show that you are a duly licensed massage establishment as required by Section 480.043, Florida Statutes. If you do not have the proper documents, the ramifications can be severe. This can lead to complaints being filed against you and the establishment which may lead to arrest by law enforcement, a Uniform Unlicensed Activity Citation (fine), or the subject will be issued a Cease and Desist letter.

Education Discrepancies.

Prior to attending a massage school, make sure it is a Board-approved massage school. One of the ways to do this is to request information about the accreditation of the school from the school staff or its designated accrediting agency. Alternatively, you may go to the Florida Massage Therapy website and search for a list of Florida approved Massage Schools.

The Board of Massage Therapy has a Massage School Approval Requirements Checklist and Information on their website that you can use as guide to help you decide if the school is following the guidelines set forth by the Board of Massage Therapy. In addition, the Board of Massage Therapy has a closed program list showing you which schools are closed and no longer operating. Furthermore, they also have a list of approved schools. Of course with each of these options, it is always best practice to contact the board of massage therapy to inquire about a school that you may be interested in attending.

Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Activity.

Sexual misconduct and sexual activity has been a hot topic for the board for several years. Engaging in sexual misconduct with a client or patient is a violation of Section 480.0485, Florida Statutes.

It is important that you do not exceed the boundaries of the massage that you are performing. Follow the generally accepted treatment of massage therapy patients. Do not accept offers from anyone, and don’t offer extra services to anyone that is not a part of the listed services offered by the massage establishment. Exceeding the scope of the massage will not only lead to disciplinary action by the board of massage therapy, but it may lead to a criminal record.

Displaying Licensure.

Failure to conspicuously display establishment license and massage therapist license may lead to disciplinary action. It is extremely important that upon opening your own massage parlor that you place all of your licenses in a place where it can be seen.

Procedures for Reporting Human Trafficking.

Not having procedures in place for reporting suspected human trafficking may lead to disciplinary action. Pursuant to Section 480.043(13), Florida Statutes, massage establishments must implement a procedure for reporting suspected human trafficking to the National Human Trafficking Hotline or to a local law enforcement agency. A sign detailing this reporting procedure must be posted in a conspicuous place in the establishment that is accessible to employees.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Massage Therapists and Other Healthcare Professionals.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to massage therapists in Department of Health investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers. The Health Law Firm routinely represents massage therapists, dentists, nurses, physicians, medical groups, clinics, and other healthcare providers in personal and facility licensing issues.

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: Castillana F. Duvernay, J.D. is a new lawyer 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, 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.

Sources:

“Closed School List.” https://floridasmassagetherapy.gov/forms/mt-closed-schools-11-14.pdf

“Florida Approved Massage Schools List.” https://floridasmassagetherapy.gov/forms/massage-list-school.pdf

Florida Board of Massage Therapy. “Are massage establishments required to have procedures for reporting human trafficking?” https://floridasmassagetherapy.gov/help-center/are-massage-establishments-required-to-have-procedures-for-reporting-human-trafficking/

Florida Board of Massage Therapy. “Education and Training Programs.” https://floridasmassagetherapy.gov/education-and-training-programs/

Florida Board of Massage Therapy. “Unlicensed Activity (ULA).” https://floridasmassagetherapy.gov/latest-news/unlicensed-activity-ula/

 

“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 © 2024. The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be published in any form in any medium without the written permission of the copyright owner. The copyright owner asserts its right to be associated with the content of this work.

By |2024-01-02T16:08:36-05:00January 2, 2024|Categories: Massage Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Massage Therapists-You MUST Obtain License Complaint Defense Coverage Insurance

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

I am often called on to represent massage therapists accused of sexually molesting a client during the course of the massage or for offering sex to an undercover agent. Most often, this type of case comes to us from a complaint filed with the Department of Health, the umbrella agency over the Board of Massage Therapy. Often the complaint is a made-up one or is based on mistaken identity or an incorrect perception on the part of the customer.

The tragic part of this story is that often, the case could be defended and the charges against the massage therapist dismissed, but the massage therapist does not have the money to retain a good, experienced attorney. As a result, the massage therapist must either give up their license or be found guilty, revoked, lose their board certification, and no longer has a job or profession. It is very inexpensive, often less than $100 per year.

That is why we say that all massage therapists absolutely should purchase professional liability insurance that includes coverage to pay for the legal defense of a complaint filed against the massage therapist’s license. Not all professional liability insurance does provide this type of coverage, so you must check and make sure your does.

Professional Liability Insurance with Professional License Defense Coverage is Cheap–Buy It.

Professional liability insurance with professional license defense coverage is very inexpensive for a massage therapist. It often costs less than $200 per year. When you have it, it will pay for a lawyer to defend you right from the very start, when you first find out there may be a complaint against you, even if no lawsuit is filed.

Yet, so often we see a massage therapist falsely accused of a wrong-doing, laid of from their job, without any money, and therefore unable to hire a lawyer to defend themselves. This type of insurance can be invaluable. It can save your license and your career.

If You Have a Policy, Check it for this Type of Coverage.

Even if you have a professional liability insurance policy, it may not contain this type of coverage. Check your policy. Call or write the company to find out if you are not sure. If it does not have professional license defense coverage, sometimes called “State Licensing Board Complaint Coverage” ask if you can purchase a “rider” to your insurance policy that does provide such coverage, even if no law suit is filed. If your company does not offer such coverage at all, then immediately purchase a different policy with a different company.

Employers: Make Your Employees Purchase Insurance Coverage.

If you employee massage therapists or you own a massage establishment, then you should require your employees to purchase such insurance coverage and have your company or establishment included as a “named insured” on the policy. Again, these policies are very inexpensive for the massage therapist to purchase, so you might even consider paying for such insurance if the employee claims they can’t afford it.

Often when a client or customer is thinking about suing a company or a massage therapist, their attorney will tell them to file a complaint with the licensing board. Then the licensing board will do all the investigating needed on the case and will even hire experts to review the case. Later, if the licensing board rules that the massage therapist (or massage establishment) is at fault, the plaintiff’s attorney can use all of that information in a civil law suit against the massage therapist of the employer.

You can prevent this by ensuring that you have legal defense from day one.

There Is Nothing That Prohibits You from Having Two Policies.

If your present insurance policy does not include professional license defense coverage or if it only includes a small amount ($5,000 or $10,000) consider purchasing an additional policy from a different company.

Companies That Offer Professional License Defense Coverage for Massage Therapists.

Following are the names of the professional liability insurance companies that we have been able to find that offer good professional license defense coverage at a low rate as of January 2023:

1. CPH Insurance–In our opinion, the best coverage that is available. It includes “State Licensing Board Defense Coverage” up to $35,000 for defense of a licensing board complaint. Customers can increase this limit to $75,000 for an additional $75 premium, or to a $100,000 limit for a $100 additional premium (which we recommend doing). See https://www.cphins.com/

2. HPSO (Healthcare Providers Service Organization) Insurance–Great coverage at a low price. See https://www.hpso.com/

3. CM&F Group Insurance. See https://www.cmfgroup.com/contact-us/

4. AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association) Insurance (but may only provide coverage while you remain a member of this organization). See https://www.amtamassage.org/massage-insurance/overview

5. ProLiability Insurance, powered by AMBA (Association Member Benefits Advisors, LLC). See https://www.proliability.com/professional-liability-insurance/

There may be others out there and if you come across one, please let me know. I am always looking to expand my list.

For more information and ways that The Health Law Firm can help in licensure matters, visit our Video Q&A section or visit our website’s Areas of Practice page.

Contact Health Law Attorneys With Experience Handling Licensing Issues.

If you are applying for a massage therapy, dental, or health care license, have had a license suspended or revoked, or are facing imminent action against your license, it is imperative that you contact an experienced healthcare attorney to assist you in defending your career. Remember, your license is your livelihood, it is not recommended that you attempt to pursue these matters without the assistance of an attorney.

The Health Law Firm routinely represents massage therapists, dentists, nurses, physicians, medical groups, clinics, and other healthcare providers in personal and facility licensing issues.

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.

 

 

By |2023-02-02T11:57:13-05:00February 2, 2023|Categories: Massage Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments
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