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Florida state laws and regulations that affect your medical practice


1. Should gunshot wounds be reported to the proper authorities?

Yes. The law mandates that any physician, nurse or employee thereof and any employee of a hospital, sanitarium, clinic, or nursing home knowingly treating any person suffering from a gunshot wound or life-threatening injury indicating an act of violence, or receiving a request for such treatment, shall report the same immediately in the sheriff's department of the county in which said treatment is administered or request therefor received. Any such person willfully failing to report such treatment or request is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree.


1. Should a practitioner report another's impairment, gross incompetence or unprofessional conduct to the State Board of Medical Examiners (SBME)?

(1) The following acts constitute grounds for denial of a license or disciplinary action:

(a) Attempting to obtain, obtaining, or renewing a license to practice medicine by bribery, by fraudulent misrepresentations, or through an error of the department or the board.

(b) Having a license or the authority to practice medicine revoked, suspended, or otherwise acted against, including the denial of licensure, by the licensing authority of any jurisdiction, including its agencies or subdivisions. The licensing authority's acceptance of a physician's relinquishment of a license, stipulation, consent order, or other settlement, offered in response to or in anticipation of the filing of administrative charges against the physician's license, shall be construed as action against the physician's license.

( c ) Being convicted or found guilty of, or entering a plea of nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, a crime in any jurisdiction which directly relates to the practice of medicine or to the ability to practice medicine.

(d) False, deceptive, or misleading advertising.

(e) Failing to report to the department any person who the licensee knows is in violation of this chapter or of the rules of the department or the board.

(f) Aiding, assisting, procuring, or advising any unlicensed person to practice medicine contrary to this chapter or to a rule of the department or the board.

(g) Failing to perform any statutory or legal obligation placed upon a licensed physician.

(h) Making or filing a report which the licensee knows to be false, intentionally or negligently failing to file a report or record required by state or federal law, willfully impeding or obstructing such filing or inducing another person to do so. Such reports or records shall include only those which are signed in the capacity as a licensed physician.

(i) Paying or receiving any commission, bonus, kickback, or rebate, or engaging in any split-fee arrangement in any form whatsoever with a physician, organization, agency, or person, either directly or indirectly, for patients referred to providers of health care goods and services, including, but not limited to, hospitals, nursing homes, clinical laboratories, ambulatory surgical centers, or pharmacies. The provisions of this paragraph shall not be construed to prevent a physician from receiving a fee for professional consultation services.

(j) Exercising influence within a patient-physician relationship for purposes of engaging a patient in sexual activity. A patient shall be presumed to be incapable of giving free, full, and informed consent to sexual activity with his or her physician.

(k) Making deceptive, untrue, or fraudulent representations in or related to the practice of medicine or employing a trick or scheme in the practice of medicine.

(l) Soliciting patients, either personally or through an agent, through the use of fraud, intimidation, undue influence, or a form of overreaching or vexatious conduct. A solicitation is any communication which directly or implicitly requests an immediate oral response from the recipient.

(m) Failing to keep legible, as defined by department rule in consultation with the board, medical records that identify the licensed physician or the physician extender and supervising physician by name and professional title who is or are responsible for rendering, ordering, supervising, or billing for each diagnostic or treatment procedure and that justify the course of treatment of the patient, including, but not limited to, patient histories; examination results; test results; records of drugs prescribed, dispensed, or administered; and reports of consultations and hospitalizations.

(n) Exercising influence on the patient or client in such a manner as to exploit the patient or client for financial gain of the licensee or of a third party, which shall include, but not be limited to, the promoting or selling of services, goods, appliances, or drugs.

(o) Promoting or advertising on any prescription form of a community pharmacy unless the form shall also state "This prescription may be filled at any pharmacy of your choice."

(p) Performing professional services which have not been duly authorized by the patient or client, or his or her legal representative.

(q) Prescribing, dispensing, administering, mixing, or otherwise preparing a legend drug, including any controlled substance, other than in the course of the physician's professional practice. For the purposes of this paragraph, it shall be legally presumed that prescribing, dispensing, administering, mixing, or otherwise preparing legend drugs, including all controlled substances, inappropriately or in excessive or inappropriate quantities is not in the best interest of the patient and is not in the course of the physician's professional practice, without regard to his or her intent.

( r ) Prescribing, dispensing, or administering any medicinal drug by the physician to himself or herself, except one prescribed, dispensed, or administered to the physician by another practitioner authorized to prescribe, dispense, or administer medicinal drugs.

(s) Being unable to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety to patients by reason of illness or use of alcohol, drugs, narcotics, chemicals, or any other type of material or as a result of any mental or physical condition. In enforcing this paragraph, the department shall have, upon a finding of the secretary or the secretary's designee that probable cause exists to believe that the licensee is unable to practice medicine because of the reasons stated in this paragraph, the authority to issue an order to compel a licensee to submit to a mental or physical examination by physicians designated by the department. If the licensee refuses to comply with such order, the department's order directing such examination may be enforced by filing a petition for enforcement in the circuit court where the licensee resides or does business. The licensee against whom the petition is filed may not be named or identified by initials in any public court records or documents, and the proceedings shall be closed to the public. The department shall be entitled to the summary procedure. A licensee or certificateholder affected under this paragraph shall at reasonable intervals be afforded an opportunity to demonstrate that he or she can resume the competent practice of medicine with reasonable skill and safety to patients.

(t) The following types of malpractice also constitute grounds for discipline:

1. Committing medical malpractice. Medical malpractice shall not be construed to require more than one instance, event, or act.

2. Committing gross medical malpractice.

3. Committing repeated medical malpractice. A person found by the board to have committed repeated medical malpractice may not be licensed or continue to be licensed by this state to provide health care services as a medical doctor in this state.

Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to require that a physician be incompetent to practice medicine in order to be disciplined pursuant to this paragraph. A recommended order by an administrative law judge or a final order of the board finding a violation under this paragraph shall specify whether the licensee was found to have committed "gross medical malpractice," "repeated medical malpractice," or "medical malpractice," or any combination thereof, and any publication by the board must so specify.

(u) Performing any procedure or prescribing any therapy which, by the prevailing standards of medical practice in the community, would constitute experimentation on a human subject, without first obtaining full, informed, and written consent.

(v) Practicing or offering to practice beyond the scope permitted by law or accepting and performing professional responsibilities which the licensee knows or has reason to know that he or she is not competent to perform. The board may establish by rule standards of practice and standards of care for particular practice settings, including, but not limited to, education and training, equipment and supplies, medications including anesthetics, assistance of and delegation to other personnel, transfer agreements, sterilization, records, performance of complex or multiple procedures, informed consent, and policy and procedure manuals.

(w) Delegating professional responsibilities to a person when the licensee delegating such responsibilities knows or has reason to know that such person is not qualified by training, experience, or licensure to perform them.

(x) Violating a lawful order of the board or department previously entered in a disciplinary hearing or failing to comply with a lawfully issued subpoena of the department.

(y) Conspiring with another licensee or with any other person to commit an act, or committing an act, which would tend to coerce, intimidate, or preclude another licensee from lawfully advertising his or her services.

(z) Procuring, or aiding or abetting in the procuring of, an unlawful termination of pregnancy.

(aa) Presigning blank prescription forms.

(bb) Prescribing any medicinal drug appearing on Schedule II in chapter 893 by the physician for office use.

(cc) Prescribing, ordering, dispensing, administering, supplying, selling, or giving any drug which is a Schedule II amphetamine or a Schedule II sympathomimetic amine drug or any compound thereof, to or for any person except for:

1. The treatment of narcolepsy; hyperkinesis; behavioral syndrome characterized by the developmentally inappropriate symptoms of moderate to severe distractability, short attention span, hyperactivity, emotional liability, and impulsivity; or drug-induced brain dysfunction;

2. The differential diagnostic psychiatric evaluation of depression or the treatment of depression shown to be refractory to other therapeutic modalities; or

3. The clinical investigation of the effects of such drugs or compounds when an investigative protocol therefor is submitted to, reviewed, and approved by the board before such investigation is begun.

(dd) Failing to supervise adequately the activities of those physician assistants, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, advanced registered nurse practitioners, or anesthesiologist assistants acting under the supervision of the physician.

(ee) Prescribing, ordering, dispensing, administering, supplying, selling, or giving growth hormones, testosterone or its analogs, human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), or other hormones for the purpose of muscle building or to enhance athletic performance. For the purposes of this subsection, the term "muscle building" does not include the treatment of injured muscle. A prescription written for the drug products listed above may be dispensed by the pharmacist with the presumption that the prescription is for legitimate medical use.

(ff) Prescribing, ordering, dispensing, administering, supplying, selling, or giving amygdalin (laetrile) to any person.

(gg) Misrepresenting or concealing a material fact at any time during any phase of a licensing or disciplinary process or procedure.

(hh) Improperly interfering with an investigation or with any disciplinary proceeding.

(ii) Failing to report to the department any licensee who the physician or physician assistant knows has violated the grounds for disciplinary action set out in the law under which that person is licensed and who provides health care services in a licensed facility, or a health maintenance organization, in which the physician or physician assistant also provides services.

(jj) Being found by any court in this state to have provided corroborating written medical expert opinion attached to any statutorily required notice of claim or intent or to any statutorily required response rejecting a claim, without reasonable investigation.

(kk) Failing to report to the board, in writing, within 30 days if action as defined in paragraph (b) has been taken against one's license to practice medicine in another state, territory, or country.

(ll) Advertising or holding oneself out as a board-certified specialist, if not qualified under s. 458.3312, in violation of this chapter.

(mm) Failing to comply with the requirements to provide patients with information about their patient rights and how to file a patient complaint.

(nn) Violating any provision of this chapter or chapter 456, or any rules adopted pursuant thereto.

(2) The board may enter an order denying licensure or imposing any of the penalties in against any applicant for licensure or licensee who is found guilty of violating any provision of subsection (1) of this section or who is found guilty of violating any provision. In determining what action is appropriate, the board must first consider what sanctions are necessary to protect the public or to compensate the patient. Only after those sanctions have been imposed may the disciplining authority consider and include in the order requirements designed to rehabilitate the physician. All costs associated with compliance with orders issued under this subsection are the obligation of the physician.

(3) In any administrative action against a physician which does not involve revocation or suspension of license, the division shall have the burden, by the greater weight of the evidence, to establish the existence of grounds for disciplinary action. The division shall establish grounds for revocation or suspension of license by clear and convincing evidence.

(4) The board shall not reinstate the license of a physician, or cause a license to be issued to a person it deems or has deemed unqualified, until such time as it is satisfied that he or she has complied with all the terms and conditions set forth in the final order and that such person is capable of safely engaging in the practice of medicine. However, the board may not issue a license to, or reinstate the license of, any medical doctor found by the board to have committed repeated medical malpractice, regardless of the extent to which the licensee or prospective licensee has complied with all terms and conditions set forth in the final order and is capable of safely engaging in the practice of medicine.

(5) The board shall by rule establish guidelines for the disposition of disciplinary cases involving specific types of violations. Such guidelines may include minimum and maximum fines, periods of supervision or probation, or conditions of probation or reissuance of a license. "Gross medical malpractice," "repeated medical malpractice," and "medical malpractice," under paragraph (1)(t) shall each be considered distinct types of violations requiring specific individual guidelines.

(6) Upon the department's receipt from an insurer or self-insurer of a report of a closed claim against a physician or from a health care practitioner of a report, or upon the receipt from a claimant of a presuit notice against a physician, the department shall review each report and determine whether it potentially involved conduct by a licensee that is subject to disciplinary action. However, if it is reported that a physician has had three or more claims with indemnities exceeding $50,000 each within the previous 5-year period, the department shall investigate the occurrences upon which the claims were based and determine if action by the department against the physician is warranted.

(7) Upon the department's receipt from the Agency for Health Care Administration of the name of a physician whose conduct may constitute grounds for disciplinary action by the department, the department shall investigate the occurrences upon which the report was based and determine if action by the department against the physician is warranted.

(8) If any physician regulated by the Division of Medical Quality Assurance is guilty of such unprofessional conduct, negligence, or mental or physical incapacity or impairment that the division determines that the physician is unable to practice with reasonable skill and safety and presents a danger to patients, the division shall be authorized to maintain an action in circuit court enjoining such physician from providing medical services to the public until the physician demonstrates the ability to practice with reasonable skill and safety and without danger to patients.

(9) When an investigation of a physician is undertaken, the department shall promptly furnish to the physician or the physician's attorney a copy of the complaint or document which resulted in the initiation of the investigation. For purposes of this subsection, such documents include, but are not limited to: the pertinent portions of an annual report submitted to the department; a report of an adverse incident which is provided to the department; a report of peer review disciplinary action submitted to the department, providing that the investigations, proceedings, and records relating to such peer review disciplinary action shall continue to retain their privileged status even as to the licensee who is the subject of the investigation, a report of a closed claim; a presuit notice; and a petition brought under the Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Plan. The physician may submit a written response to the information contained in the complaint or document which resulted in the initiation of the investigation within 45 days after service to the physician of the complaint or document. The physician's written response shall be considered by the probable cause panel.

(10) A probable cause panel convened to consider disciplinary action against a physician assistant must include one physician assistant. The physician assistant must hold a valid license to practice as a physician assistant in this state and be appointed to the panel by the Council of Physician Assistants. The physician assistant may hear only cases involving disciplinary actions against a physician assistant. If the appointed physician assistant is not present at the disciplinary hearing, the panel may consider the matter and vote on the case in the absence of the physician assistant. The training requirements do not apply to the appointed physician assistant. Rules need not be adopted to implement this subsection.

F.S.A. § 458.331

2. Will practitioners face any liability for reporting?

No. As noted above, a practitioner can face liability for not reporting. Practitioners who notify the Board will not be held liable to any person for reporting, unless the practitioner knowingly provided false information to the Board.

F.S.A. § 458.331; F.S.A. § 458.337


1. Does a psychiatrist have a duty to warn if he or she suspects a patient to have violent tendencies?

Communications between a patient and a psychiatrist shall be held confidential and shall not be disclosed except upon the request of the patient or the patient's legal representative. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, where:

(1) A patient is engaged in a treatment relationship with a psychiatrist;

(2) Such patient has made an actual threat to physically harm an identifiable victim or victims; and

(3) The treating psychiatrist makes a clinical judgment that the patient has the apparent capability to commit such an act and that it is more likely than not that in the near future the patient will carry out that threat,

The psychiatrist may disclose patient communications to the extent necessary to warn any potential victim or to communicate the threat to a law enforcement agency. No civil or criminal action shall be instituted, and there shall be no liability on account of disclosure of otherwise confidential communications by a psychiatrist in disclosing a threat pursuant to this section.

F.S.A. § 456.059

Copyright Kern Augustine Conroy and Schoppmann, P.C. Used with permission.

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