Florida's certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are advanced practice nurses licensed to administer anesthesia and other medications to patients in emergency and surgical situations. CRNAs have dedicated years to extensive clinical training, taking national board exams, and obtaining a minimum of a doctorate degree in their field of practice. As one of the highest-paying nurse occupations, Florida CRNAs have many reasons to maintain their licenses. However, complaints and allegations of misconduct can quickly hinder confidence and the ability to maintain autonomy in the healthcare profession.
The Lento Law Firm understands how the day-to-day challenges CRNAs face can impose stress in situations involving disciplinary action. With such an important set of skills in the medical field, it's vital you have the defense that keeps your licensure intact. Our team knows that licensing boards don't always take the time to recognize the entirety of a situation or case and may jump to impose sanctions that may include the following:
- Written reprimand
- Restriction of practice
- Continuing education probation
- License suspension
- License revocation
Whether through misunderstandings, allegations of misconduct, or patient complaints, CRNAs often find themselves facing sanctions. If you fail to challenge these sanctions with every available resource, you may suffer the end of your career. But that can be avoidable with capable representation. The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team will lead negotiations with Florida licensing and regulatory authorities and seek the most favorable resolution possible. Call us today at 888-535-3686 or submit your details online, and we will contact you.
Florida State Board of Nursing Licensing Standards
Like other advanced registered nurse practitioners, CNRAs must be licensed by the Florida Board of Nursing. The Board licenses, monitors, and disciplines to ensure their fitness and competence in providing healthcare services in Florida and meeting requirements set by the Nurse Practice Act to hold all CRNAs accountable to state standards.
Though the list is not exhaustive, some of the reasons Florida's Board of Nursing disciplines CRNAs includes:
- Unprofessional conduct: Poor interactions with patients, chronic tardiness, and failure to keep a clean work environment are a few examples of unprofessional conduct. However, the discretion of what constitutes unprofessional conduct is largely given to the Board.
- Substance misuse: CRNAs may face discipline if they are accused of working under the influence of drugs or alcohol or using substances inappropriately, even in their private lives, outside the scope of the job. Moreover, licensees can face fierce repercussions for making errors in administering medications to patients, whether over or under-prescribing or handling controlled substances off the premises of a medical facility.
- Bribery, fraud, or misrepresentation: Engaging in bribery, fraud, or misrepresentation to obtain a license, job, or administer care to a patient can lead to severe license sanctions. Additionally, employing an unlicensed medical professional can result in adverse action.
- Criminal conviction: Many criminal convictions or even nolo contendere pleas can cause issues with CRNA licenses. Regardless of adjudication, authorities must determine whether the crime relates directly to the practice of CRNAs or affects the ability to practice.
- Failing to report violations: Like many other licensed professionals, CRNAs must report any person they know is in violation of Florida's regulatory standards. However, a person who the licensee knows is unable to practice with "reasonable skill and safety" because of illness, substance abuse, or mental or physical conditions does not have to be reported to state authorities but must be reported to a consultant operating an impaired practitioner program.
- Sexual misconduct: Sexual misconduct in the practice of nursing constitutes a violation of the nurse-patient relationship. Any attempt to induce patients or even coworkers to engage in sexual activity is strictly prohibited.
- Inability to meet minimum standards: Attempting to engage in any patient care the licensee isn't qualified to do is a violation. Furthermore, discipline may also be imposed for careless mistakes, like forgetting to sign for medications, failure to accurately report care, and other minor violations that can have life-altering results.
Although rule violations are wide-ranging, the potential for discipline can come from any source through complaints. Critically, it isn't just patients who may lodge complaints with the state; anyone can.
Florida CRNA Complaint Procedure and Adjudication
The Florida Department of Health tasks its division of Medical Quality Assurance's (MQA) Bureau of Enforcement with investigating all complaints and allegations of violations involving healthcare practitioners, including CRNAs. Complaints may arise from:
- The way you represented yourself to obtain a license, including your qualifications, education, previous employment, and references.
- The way you conduct yourself with patients, coworkers, and superiors.
- The way you conduct yourself outside the work environment, including what is posted on social media and what is done publicly.
- Other circumstances directly or indirectly related to your career as a CRNA and your ability to practice.
The Florida Health Care Complaint Portal allows anyone to file a complaint with state agencies. Therefore, no Florida CRNA is immune from baseless or biased complaints. Once the MQA's Bureau of Enforcement receives a complaint against you, the path may include the following:
The Consumer Services Unit (CSU) will verify the complaint and correspond with the correct state department. Complaints are confidential for the first ten calendar days for the CSU to determine whether there is sufficiency to continue the investigative process. CRNAs may or may not be asked to provide a response to allegations.
The Investigative Services Unit (ISU) will gather evidence pertaining to the allegations or complaints. CRNAs will be asked to provide a response, including an interview with investigators. The ISU will also seek witness testimony, if applicable, and may subpoena the licensee's previous records. Materials are then turned over to the Prosecution Services Unit (PSU) to conduct a legal review of ISU-generated reports. The PSU is responsible for recommending a course of action which may include:
- Emergency order: Issued against licensees who pose an immediate threat to the health, safety, and welfare of the people of Florida.
- Expert review: Sought if further comments are needed pertaining to the case.
- Closing order: Recommended when the investigation or the expert review fails to support the complaint or allegation of rule violations, but the complainant may provide additional information to the Department that may be relevant to the decision up to 60 days after closure.
- Administrative complaint: Recommended when the investigation or the expert review supports the complaint or allegations of rule violations.
The Probable Cause Panel (PCP) is a panel of two or three board members—usually one or two licensed healthcare professionals and a consumer member—that will determine if there was probable cause that the CRNA was responsible for the allegation or complaint. The recommendation of the PSU does not bind the PCP and may decide to issue its order independently.
Administrative Complaint Process
When an administrative complaint is filed with the Department—or when a state agency's decision affects an individual's substantial interests—a CNRA is entitled to an administrative hearing performed by the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH). While there are not two different types of hearings, there are two different ways of using them.
For a more informal approach, CRNAs may choose not to contest the facts and conclusions stated by the PCP, Board, or Department. Therefore, licensees would come before an administrative law judge (ALJ) to present only mitigating factors that might affect the punishment or discipline appropriate in the case. When you elect for an informal hearing, you are effectively admitting to all of the facts contained in the administrative complaint, and the facts, including guilt or innocence, are considered to be admitted and can no longer be disputed.
In most cases, CRNAs will contest material facts in the case and specify the facts in dispute on the election of rights (EOR) form sent by the Department. During a formal hearing, the Department has the burden of proof, and if the PSU or PCP has recommended license revocation, the Department must prove its case to the ALJ with "clear and convincing evidence," which is a higher threshold than the "preponderance of the evidence" standard, but this is lower than the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard used in criminal cases.
Consequences of Sanctions
While sanctions vary in severity, any form of rebuke should be taken seriously. Discipline, including a first-time written reprimand, will become a part of your CRNA record. Any instance of adverse action may lead to the following:
- Expose you to future scrutiny or misunderstandings with your employer.
- Become a hindrance to promotion or future job opportunities.
- Diminish your earning power and lower professional ambitions.
- Increase stress and mental health issues.
Florida is also a part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) state, joining in the effort to unify nursing standards across the U.S. for CRNAs and other healthcare professionals to practice in multiple states without undergoing additional licensing requirements. However, that means when you lose your license to practice in Florida, you also lose your ability to practice in other NLC-compliant states.
Furthermore, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing's (NCSBN) Nursys database is a primary source for CRNA licensing information. That means anyone with access to the NCSBN's database can:
- Search a CRNA's current license status.
- View a CRNA's disciplinary history.
- Make licensure and hiring decisions based on information contained in the nationwide database.
Because of the gravity of complaints and allegations of violations for Florida CRNAs, you must consider hiring an attorney from the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team. There is no way to predict how sanctions—even minor ones—will affect you. Yet, you can be certain that your prospects will not improve if you fail to mount a valid defense.
How the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Can Help Florida CRNAs
CRNAs facing administrative sanctions from Florida state authorities may believe an attorney may be too aggressive an option to exercise with their professional board. However, the Lento Law Firm will be a valuable resource for the following reasons:
- Obtain all relevant evidence and testimony: Our team conducts its own investigation of your circumstances. The right evidence or witness testimony can determine the outcome of your case. Moreover, if a short lapse in judgment, an emotional day on the job, or other minor error landed you in trouble, that will be integral in mitigating potential consequences disciplinary authorities may not consider.
- Seek pre-hearing settlements: We will negotiate with any Offices of General Counsel (OGCs) that have the authority to settle your case and explore other options the Board and Department provide to settle before the DOAH conducts proceedings. Negotiating directly with agency attorneys often leads to an efficient, ideal case outcome.
- Accompany you through the complaint process and administrative hearings: If your case must go through traditional adjudication channels, we'll be prepared to defend you every step of the way. We will accompany you to any meetings, represent you during your hearing, and file any necessary appeals promptly.
- Take further legal steps, if necessary: All options will be exercised when your CRNA license is on the line. If we need to take legal action beyond appeals to the state's court system, we will.
We are a nationwide legal team experienced in negotiating with professional licensing boards and their attorneys. Considering each client's unique circumstances, our firm always presses for the best possible outcome.
We Serve Nurses Employed by Medical Providers Throughout Florida
No matter your employer or specific role as a CRNA, adverse action can have a devastating effect on your career. We serve CRNAs practicing throughout Florida and are familiar with prominent employers in the medical space, including:
- Mayo Clinic-Jacksonville (Jacksonville)
- AdventHealth Orlando (Orlando)
- UF Health Shands Hospital (Gainesville)
- Tampa General Hospital (Tampa)
- Baptist Health Hospital (Miami)
- Sarasota Memorial Hospital (Sarasota)
- Cleveland Clinic-Weston (Weston)
- Orlando Regional Medical Center (Orlando)
- University of Miami Hospital and Clinic (Miami)
- Mount Sinai Medical Center (Miami Beach)
- St. Joseph's Hospital (Tampa)
- Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare (Tallahassee)
- Memorial Regional Hospital (Hollywood)
- Gulf Coast Medical Center (Fort Myers)
- Health First Holmes Regional Medical Center (Melbourne)
The above are just a few examples of high-volume employers of CRNAs in Florida. If your employer is not on this list, we can still bring you valuable assistance.
Call the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Today
Defending your Florida CRNA license should be a priority, and our team is ready to start work on your case today. Don't settle for local trial attorneys who use shock-and-awe tactics to challenge licensing boards; trust the delicate care and attention provided by the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team.
Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 today for a consultation about how we will defend your credentials to practice as a CRNA in Florida. You can also contact us online with your case details, and a member of our Professional License Defense Team will reach out as soon as possible.