Florida Board of Pharmacy Recommends PRN Evaluation for all Applicants with History of Mental Problems or Substance Abuse

Wednesday, February 19, 2014
By Lance O. Leider, J.D., The Health Law Firm

The Florida Board of Pharmacy made some rather concerning recommendations to present and future applicants at its February 12, 2014, meeting.

During the portion of the agenda where the Board considers the approval of applicants for licensure with prior mental health or substance abuse related issues, some members of the Board expressed frustration with the fact that the applicants had not been evaluated by the Professionals Resource Network (PRN) prior to the consideration of their applications by the Board.

Central to the Board's frustration was the fact that the applicants for Florida licenses were having decisions on their applications delayed a number of months for what seemed to be preventable issues.  The applications were scheduled for consideration, but applicants were told to come back after they had PRN evaluations.  While the Board's concerns were laudable, its recommendations have potentially far reaching effects for the applicants.

The Board's recommendation that any applicant with "positive health history responses" seek out a PRN evaluation prior to submitting the application is not necessarily the wisest course of action.  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 the Board of Pharmacy or any professional board.

The Dangers of a 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.  Many practitioners need the structure and monitoring that PRN offers, while many others do not.

Submitting to a PRN evaluation before your application is considered by the Board of Pharmacy 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 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 the questions will come.

The Alternative to a Preemptive PRN Evaluation.

Because the Board does not have 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 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 stated on the record at the above-mentioned meeting that it 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.

Your entire career is riding on your license to practice.  It is not advisable that you face the Board without at least consulting with a health law attorney.

Contact a Health Law Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Health Care Providers in Board of Pharmacy Cases.

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys are experienced in dealing with the Board of Pharmacy, 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 Board of Pharmacy's 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.

Tag Words: Board of Pharmacy, pharmacy, pharmacist, Professionals Resource Network, PRN, PRN evaluation, PRN contract, preemptive PRN evaluation, PRN evaluator, Board of Pharmacy hearing, Board of Pharmacy representation, license application, Board of Pharmacy license application, license, license approval, substance abuse issues, mental health issues, defense attorney, defense lawyer, pharmacist attorney, pharmacist lawyer, health law firm, The Health Law Firm
"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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