REPORTING OF CRIMINAL OFFENSES, INCLUDING PLEAS OF NOLO CONTENDERE
AND ADJUDICATION WITHHELD, BY FLORIDA LICENSED HEALTH PROFESSIONALS
In Florida, all health professionals licensed or regulated under Chapter 456 of Florida Statutes, are required to report to their professional board (or the Florida Department of Health if there is no professional board in their profession) any convictions or findings of guilty of criminal offenses, in any jurisdiction. Unfortunately, pursuant to Florida Statutes, a plea of nolo contendere must be reported just as a plea of guilty to an offense (a plea of not guilty does not need to be reported). A finding of guilty or a finding of adjudication withheld (also called a "withhold" or "deferred adjudication" in some jurisdictions) must also be reported (a finding of not guilty, a dismissal, a nolle prosequi, pretrial diversion or pretrial intervention program in almost all cases dose not have to be reported).
The time limit for health providers to report the above to their licensing boards (or the Department of Health when there is no board) is within thirty (30) days of the conviction or finding. Section 456.072(1)(x), Florida Statutes. Licensed practitioners who also are required to have a profile with the Department of Health (e.g., physicians licensed under Chapters 458, 459, 460 or 461), must submit an update to their profile, including criminal convictions, within fifteen (15) days of the "final activity that renders such information a fact." Section 456.042, Florida Statutes.
So, for example, a doctor of medicine (M.D.), licensed pursuant to chapter 458, Florida Statutes, must submit an update to the physician's profile within fifteen (15) days. A registered respiratory therapist, on the other hand, doesn't have a profile. The registered respiratory therapist would have to report a matter qualifying with the above within thirty (30) days to his or her board, the Board of Respiratory Care.
As with any such important legal matter, we recommend reporting in a typed, professional letter, via a reliable method of delivery which provides tracking and delivers you a receipt. We do not consider e-mail to be reliable or susceptible of verification or tracking. We usually recommend reporting such matters via U.S. Express Mail, with a return receipt requested. Be sure to keep copies of the correspondence, the receipt of mailing and the return receipt, to document reporting and delivery dates, and to prove receipt.
Always consult the latest versions of the Florida Statutes and the Rules of the Department of Health and your professional board to make sure you have the correct information. We recommend retaining a health attorney familiar with the Department of Health and its regulatory processes, as such a report will usually require the Department of Health to commence an investigation of the health professional, even if the health professional is located in another state.
© Copyright George F. Indest III (Board Certified by The Florida Bar in the specialty of Health Law), Altamonte Springs, Florida, 2010. All rights reserved.