Florida Department of Health Complaints and Investigations
Have you received notice that your healthcare license is being investigated or that you’re the subject of an administrative complaint? Are you facing disciplinary action?
You have options. And the best options start with getting expert help right from the start. So…
Before you do anything, talk to Lauren A. Leikam, PLLC — Florida health care license defense attorney.
Navigating the intricate landscape of healthcare regulations and disciplinary proceedings can be a daunting task, but you don’t have to face it alone. Lauren A. Leikam, PLLC, is your trusted partner in safeguarding your professional reputation and livelihood.
Lauren is an independent health care license defense attorney. She is a former prosecutor for the Florida Department of Health (FL DOH), and she specializes in vigorously defending healthcare professionals who are being investigated by the FL DOH.
Why? Because you’ve invested a great deal of time, money, and effort in earning and maintaining a livelihood — all based on your healthcare license. And you are worth defending.
So, let’s get started on what you need to know.
All FL DOH disciplinary complaints start with a letter of investigation, followed by contact from a DOH investigator. If you receive a DOH letter of investigation, don’t be intimidated and even more importantly…
Don’t speak with a FL DOH investigator until you consult with an attorney.
Remember, you have rights and options. You’re not obligated to answer any questions at this point. And remaining silent may be your best defense until you can have an attorney file a formal response on your behalf. Here’s an outline of the entire first half of the process, so you have an idea of what to expect and can make sure you put your best foot forward.
The Steps in a Disciplinary Health Care Professionals Complaint Case
Understand the process, so you can make sure your side of the story is heard.
Even though every FL DOH case is different, you can prepare by getting to know the formal process that every investigation undergoes. Here’s what you can expect:
1) FL DOH letter of investigation
This is the first notice you receive, which outlines the complaint against you. The deadline to respond varies depending on your specific situation. So, again, you’ll want to consider consulting with an attorney right away to craft your…
2) Initial response
If you write a strong, factually accurate letter that shows you understand the law and your rights, you may be able to get the complaint dismissed right away, which can stop the rest of the process entirely.
3) Investigative file
If the FL DOH doesn’t dismiss the complaint, they’ll provide more detail on the evidence they found during the investigation.
4) Response to the investigative file
This is your second opportunity to submit a formal rebuttal. And now that you know what evidence the FL DOH is using, you can be more precise in the information you use to defend yourself. If you have an experienced health care license defense attorney on your side, they’ll likely incorporate legal rationales as to why the FL DOH shouldn’t file an administrative complaint against your license.
5) The Probable Cause Panel
This is where Lauren A. Leikam, PLLC, can provide invaluable support. With her background as a former FL DOH prosecuting attorney, you’ll have an experienced advocate who comprehends the process, the rules, and what may lead the Probable Cause Panel to dismiss a complaint or offer a letter of guidance. It’s important to clarify that while Lauren provides expert guidance, Probable Cause Panels are private meetings conducted independently by the relevant authorities.
6) Administrative complaint
In some cases, the Probable Cause Panel will simply not dismiss the complaint. Note: At this stage, the complaint becomes a public record. Administrative complaints are posted to the DOH website.
If you’re unable to persuade the Probable Cause Panel to dismiss your case, there are a few ways you can proceed.
How to Respond to an Administrative Complaint
Approach is everything. Talk strategy with your attorney, so you can make the best decisions.
You must act quickly when responding to an administrative complaint, you will need to file an Answer and/or an Election of Rights. Here are your options:
You can request a formal hearing before the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) to dispute the allegations in the administrative complaint. Keep in mind, a formal hearing is a full trial before an administrative law judge.
An informal hearing is not a trial. Instead, you appear before a Board and admit to the allegations in the administrative complaint while presenting only mitigating evidence in your favor. If the Board finds that there are mitigating circumstances present, it may deviate from the disciplinary guidelines.
Settlement means you’re neither admitting nor denying the facts in the administrative complaint. It involves reaching an agreement where you acknowledge the complaint without admitting guilt. As part of the settlement agreement, you may:
- Pay costs and fines
- Be subject to other requirements, such as:
- Participation in the Intervention Project for Nurses/Professionals Resource Network (IPN/PRN)
- Continuing education
- Other license restrictions
Formal Hearing. Informal hearing. Settlement. Which is the best option?
An attorney can talk to you about the strategy behind each path, so if you seek legal counsel, make sure you choose someone who has direct experience with FL DOH complaints.
Remember: it’s never too late to consult with an attorney about your options. But the earlier in the process you seek counsel, the more of an opportunity they have to help you in every way possible.
After the Final Board Hearing
You can appeal the final order from the Board to the District Court of Appeals (DCA).
The entire process — from the letter of investigation to the final order — can go on for years, so it’s especially important that you make every decision thoughtfully. And, if you have any doubt, remember that your career — everything you’ve worked for — is worth defending. So, when you seek help…
Make sure you get someone who’s been there.
Make sure you get someone who’s been on both sides of the table and knows how to win.
Make sure you get Lauren A. Leikam, PLLC.
Why Lauren A. Leikam, PLLC?
Because I’m more than a health care license defense attorney. I’m a former prosecutor with the FL DOH, so I know all about medical investigations and disciplinary complaints — what drives them, what their typical weaknesses are, and what strategies you can use to push back.
The key is reaching out to me right away, so we can get on the same page and put a solid plan into place on step one that can help protect you throughout the FL DOH investigation process.