By: Vanessa Reynolds
For healthcare practitioners, few events are as anxiety-provoking as a professional licensure complaint and investigation. Even if a complaint is ultimately determined to be unfounded, responding is time-consuming and can be disruptive to a practice.
The Florida Department of Health (Department) is responsible for investigating complaints. Patient complaints, reports of adverse medical incidents or peer review actions and other mandatory reports may trigger an investigation, as may reports submitted by other state agencies, malpractice payments in excess of $50,000, and any “reasonable cause to believe” that a practitioner has violated any law or obligation governing the practitioner’s profession.
Physicians are afforded 45 days in which to respond to a notice of investigation, while other practitioners are given 20 days. The notice informs the practitioner of the substance of the complaint and that he or she may agree to be interviewed or to submit a written response. Although not noted in the Department’s letter, the practitioner may also opt to do neither, and to wait until the Department’s investigation is complete.
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