In Brief: Florida Pain Management Clinic Laws

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Every health profession has its own set of rules and regulations. This week, we're examining Florida laws under which pain management clinics operate.

Because Florida has one of the worst drug trafficking problems in the country, law enforcement is making sure that punishments for any violations are severe. For example, if a patient dies of drug overdose and the prescriber is found to be responsible, he or she can be charged with homicide, which was the case for a Palm Beach County pain management physician (see this New York Times article).

The DEA, Florida Department of Health and Florida law enforcement are watching pain management clinics very closely in order to keep Florida's drug trafficking problem under control. Make sure that your clinic abides by the following legislation, in order to prevent any interference with your practice.

The 2011 Florida Statutes
Section 458.3265, F.S.: Definition of Pain Management Clinic:Pain-management clinic” or “clinic” means any publicly or privately owned facility: (I) That advertises in any medium for any type of pain-management services; or (II) Where in any month a majority of patients are prescribed opioids, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, or carisoprodol for the treatment of chronic nonmalignant pain.

Registration: Every pain-management clinic must register with the Florida Department of Health UNLESS:

  1. That clinic is licensed as a facility pursuant to chapter 395;
  2. The majority of the physicians who provide services in the clinic primarily provide surgical services;
  3. The clinic is owned by a publicly held corporation whose shares are traded on a national exchange or on the over-the-counter market and whose total assets at the end of the corporation’s most recent fiscal quarter exceeded $50 million;
  4. The clinic is affiliated with an accredited medical school at which training is provided for medical students, residents, or fellows;
  5. The clinic does not prescribe controlled substances for the treatment of pain;
  6. The clinic is owned by a corporate entity exempt from federal taxation under 26 U.S.C. s. 501(c)(3);
  7. The clinic is wholly owned and operated by one or more board-certified anesthesiologists, physiatrists, or neurologists; or
  8. The clinic is wholly owned and operated by one or more board-certified medical specialists who have also completed fellowships in pain medicine approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, or who are also board-certified in pain medicine by a board approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties and perform interventional pain procedures of the type routinely billed using surgical codes.

Physician Responsibilities:

  1. A physician may not practice medicine in a pain-management clinic, if the pain-management clinic is not registered with the department. Any physician who qualifies to practice medicine in a pain-management clinic pursuant to rules adopted by the Board of Medicine as of July 1, 2012, may continue to practice medicine in a pain-management clinic as long as the physician continues to meet the qualifications set forth in the board rules. A physician who violates this paragraph is subject to disciplinary action by his or her appropriate medical regulatory board.
  2. A person may not dispense any medication on the premises of a registered pain-management clinic unless he or she is a physician licensed under this chapter or chapter 459.
  3. A physician, a physician assistant, or an advanced registered nurse practitioner must perform a physical examination of a patient on the same day that the physician prescribes a controlled substance to a patient at a pain-management clinic. If the physician prescribes more than a 72-hour dose of controlled substances for the treatment of chronic nonmalignant pain, the physician must document in the patient’s record the reason for prescribing that quantity.
  4. A physician authorized to prescribe controlled substances who practices at a pain-management clinic is responsible for maintaining the control and security of his or her prescription blanks and any other method used for prescribing controlled substance pain medication. The physician shall comply with the requirements for counterfeit-resistant prescription blanks in s. 893.065 and the rules adopted pursuant to that section. The physician shall notify, in writing, the department within 24 hours following any theft or loss of a prescription blank or breach of any other method for prescribing pain medication.
  5. The designated physician of a pain-management clinic shall notify the applicable board in writing of the date of termination of employment within 10 days after terminating his or her employment with a pain-management clinic that is required to be registered. Each physician practicing in a pain-management clinic shall advise the Board of Medicine, in writing, within 10 calendar days after beginning or ending his or her practice at a pain-management clinic.
  6. Each physician practicing in a pain-management clinic is responsible for ensuring compliance with facility and physical operations requirements.


  1. The department shall inspect the pain-management clinic annually, including a review of the patient records, to ensure that it complies with this section and the rules of the Board of Medicine.
  2. During an onsite inspection, the department shall make a reasonable attempt to discuss each violation with the owner or designated physician of the pain-management clinic before issuing a formal written notification.
  3. Any action taken to correct a violation shall be documented in writing by the owner or designated physician of the pain-management clinic and verified by followup visits by departmental personnel.
Penalties and Enforcement:
  1. The department may impose an administrative fine on the clinic of up to $5,000 per violation for violating the requirements of this section; chapter 499, the Florida Drug and Cosmetic Act; 21 U.S.C. ss. 301-392, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act; 21 U.S.C. ss. 821 et seq., the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act; chapter 893, the Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act; or the rules of the department. In determining whether a penalty is to be imposed, and in fixing the amount of the fine, the department shall consider the following factors:
    1. The gravity of the violation, including the probability that death or serious physical or emotional harm to a patient has resulted, or could have resulted, from the pain-management clinic’s actions or the actions of the physician, the severity of the action or potential harm, and the extent to which the provisions of the applicable laws or rules were violated.
    2. What actions, if any, the owner or designated physician took to correct the violations.
    3. Whether there were any previous violations at the pain-management clinic.
    4. The financial benefits that the pain-management clinic derived from committing or continuing to commit the violation.
  2. Each day a violation continues after the date fixed for termination of the violation as ordered by the department constitutes an additional, separate, and distinct violation.
  3. The department may impose a fine and, in the case of an owner-operated pain-management clinic, revoke or deny a pain-management clinic’s registration, if the clinic’s designated physician knowingly and intentionally misrepresents actions taken to correct a violation.
  4. An owner or designated physician of a pain-management clinic who concurrently operates an unregistered pain-management clinic is subject to an administrative fine of $5,000 per day.
  5. If the owner of a pain-management clinic that requires registration fails to apply to register the clinic upon a change of ownership and operates the clinic under the new ownership, the owner is subject to a fine of $5,000.
For more information about Florida pain management clinics, visit

Like this blog? Add your public comments:

Items in bold indicate required information.