Florida Boards


  • Medicine

  • Nursing

  • Dentistry

  • Pharmacy

  • Optometry

  • Massage Therapy

  • Psychology

  • Chiropractic Medicine

  • Occupational Therapy

  • Osteopathic Medicine

  • Physical Therapy

  • Acupuncture

  • Athletic Training

  • Clinical Laboratory Personnel

  • Hearing Aid Specialist

  • Mental Health Professions

  • Nursing Home Administrators

  • Opticianry

  • Orthotists & Prosthetists

  • Podiatric Medicine

  • Respiratory Care

  • Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology

DEPARTMENT REGULATED PROFESSIONS

Dietetics & Nutrition | Electrolysis | School Psychology | EMT Paramedics | Radiologic Technology | Medical Physicist | Midwifery

Legal overview


Accountability and liability of board members

All members of boards and councils within the Department of Health, referred to generically in this document as “boards,” need to constantly remind themselves that their duty as board members is to serve and protect the public.

Boards must interpret and apply the laws related to their professions in a manner consistent with the intent expressed by the Legislature.

When a board acts on applications, it must grant licenses to persons who meet the statutory requirements; and conversely must deny licenses when the applicants do not meet the statutory requirements. When it acts in disciplinary matters, must first consider what action is necessary to protect the public and then consider what action, if any, will serve to rehabilitate the licensee.

Each board member is accountable to the Governor for the proper performance of his or her duties as a member of a regulatory board. The Governor is authorized to investigate, and suspend from office any board member for malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform his or her official duties, or commission of a felony.

A board member, and a former board member who serves on a probable cause panel, is exempt from civil liability for any act or omission when acting in his or her official capacity. The department or the Attorney General's Office is authorized to defend a board member or the board in any lawsuit arising from any such act or omission.

A board member may be removed from the board for three consecutive unexcused absences or absences from 50 percent or more of the meetings of the board during a 12-month period.


Standards of conduct

Disclosure of Financial Interests: Every appointed member of each board or council is required to file a financial disclosure statement, unless the board or council only has advisory powers. The financial disclosure form must be filed within 30 days of appointment or prior to Senate confirmation, and by July 1 of each year.

Duties and Powers of the Commission on Ethics: It is the duty of the Commission on Ethics to investigate sworn complaints of violations of the Code of Ethics by public officers and employees.

Legislative Intent and Declaration of Policy: It is essential that public officials be independent and impartial in the conduct and operation of government. It is the policy of the State of Florida that no public officer shall have any interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, nor shall he or she engage in any business transaction or professional activity or incur any obligations of any nature which are in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his or her duties in the public interest.

Standards of Conduct for Public Officers and Employees of Agencies: No Board or council member shall accept, directly or indirectly, any expenditure from any executive branch lobbyist or the lobbyist's principal. No member of a licensing board may also be an officer, director, or administrator of a Florida state, county or regional professional or occupational association. A Board member cannot serve as or receive remuneration from a continuing education provider if the Board has authority over the continuing education programs or process.


The Sunshine Law and public records

The Sunshine Law, Sections 286.011 and 286.012, Florida Statutes: All meetings of any board at which official acts are to be taken are public meetings. Attendance at meetings held in violation of the Sunshine Law can subject to fines and/or criminal charges.

Voting: All members of a board present at a meeting must vote on each decision made at that meeting. There are only three exceptions to this requirement: (1) there is or appears to be a conflict of interest; (2) when that member is “recused.” for bias, prejudice, or interest’ or (3) members of a probable cause panel who reviewed the investigative materials shall not participate when the disciplinary matter comes before the board for final action.

Scope of Sunshine Law: The Sunshine Law is applicable to any gathering where the members deal with any matter on which foreseeable action will be taken by the board unless there is an explicit exemption in the law and applies only to communication by one member to another member.

Proceedings of the probable cause panel are exempt from the Sunshine Law until 10 days after probable cause is found, or the subject of an investigation waives confidentiality. In addition, the subject of meetings and records of meetings with regard to examination discussions are exempt only with regard to the examination questions.

The public records law, Chapter 119, Florida Statutes, provides that all state, county and municipal records are open at all times for inspection by any person unless made confidential by law. Consequently, any materials that come into a board member’s hands by reason of their position as a public official are probably public records and should be treated as such. All information required by the department of any applicant is a public record except financial information; medical information; school transcripts; examination questions, answers, papers, grades, and grading keys.


The Administrative Procedure Act

The Administrative Procedure Act, Chapter 120, Florida Statutes:

Meetings, Hearings and Workshops: Except for emergency meetings, notice of all public meetings must be published no less than seven days in advance in the Florida Administrative Register and the agenda shall be prepared in time to ensure that a copy may be received at least seven days before the event.

Rulemaking: Most agencies are empowered to promulgate rules necessary to implement or interpret the powers and duties set forth in their enabling statute. Rules must be promulgated in a specified manner so that persons whose substantial interests might be affected have notice of a proposed rule before its adoption.

Emergency Rules: Agencies may take emergency action by adopting an emergency rule which temporarily bypasses the notice and hearing requirements of routine rulemaking proceedings. In doing so, the agency must find that the emergency action is necessary to forestall an immediate danger to the public health, safety and welfare. Such actions must be supported by specific facts and reasons for the finding of immediate danger which must be published in writing prior to or at the time of the action. The agency’s action may be appealed to the appellate court.

Declaratory Statements: A statement of the applicability of a specified statutory provision or of any rule or order of the agency as it applies to a person in his or her particular set of circumstances may be requested through a petition for declaratory statement. A board’s declaratory statement interpreting the statute, rule or order is issued in a final order and is thereafter binding upon the board.

Hearings Determining Substantial Interests: Persons whose substantial interests are to be determined by an agency have recourse to either evidentiary hearings before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) from the Division of Administrative Hearings (D.O.A.H.) or proceedings before the board.

Licensing: Within 30 days after receipt of an application for license, the agency must notify the applicant of any apparent errors or omissions and request any additional information the agency is permitted by law to require. Generally, every application for a license must be approved or denied within 90 days after receipt of the original application, or receipt of the timely requested additions or corrections, unless the applicant waived the 90-day requirement. Failure to abide by these timelines may result in the license being issued.

Variances and Waivers: A board is permitted to grant variances or waivers from the agencies’ rule requirements. The reason for this is that sometimes the strict application of a rule can lead to unreasonable and unintended results.

Ex Parte Communications: A board member is prohibited from having unilateral communications concerning the merits of an issue before the board or involving threats or offers of reward to the decision maker (board member) by a party or by one who is substantially interested in the proposed agency action.

Judicial Review: Any party who is adversely affected by a final agency action is entitled to a review by a District Court of Appeal.


Department of Health, Special provisions

Complaint, Investigative, and Disciplinary Procedures: The department receives all complaints and is required to investigate any legally sufficient complaint that is in writing and signed by the complainant. The determination of whether probable cause exists to believe a violation of the statutes or rules governing a license has occurred is made by a majority vote of a probable causepanel of the appropriate board or, if specified by board rule, by the department. If the probable cause panel finds probable cause exists, it shall direct the department to file a formal complaint against the licensee and prosecute the complaint.

Rights of Complainants: During the pendency of the disciplinary proceedings, the department must periodically inform the person who filed the complaint the status of the complaint in the disciplinary process and whether probable cause was found. If probable cause has been found, the complainant receives a copy of the administrative complaint, an explanation of the administrative process, and of how and when the complainant may participate in the disciplinary process.

Notices of Noncompliance; Citations: For an initial offense of a minor violation, the department may issue a notice of noncompliance and give the licensee 15 days to correct the violation. If the licensee does so, the matter is over and the records are not public. Another option is a citation. This is similar to a traffic ticket. For specified violations that do not pose a substantial threat to the public health, safety, or welfare, the board establishes set penalties, such as a fine in a specific amount.


Legal advisors

Attorneys from the department serve as prosecutors in disciplinary cases. However, attorneys from the Department of Legal Affairs (called Assistant Attorneys General), or the department’s Office of the General Counsel, serve as legal advisors to each board and council within the department. The primary responsibility of the board attorneys is to represent the interests of the citizens of the state.


Assumption of the office

The process of appointment to membership on a licensing board begins when the Governor notifies an individual that he or she has been selected for the appointment. For those appointed by the State Surgeon General, the appointment to membership on a council begins when the State Surgeon General notifies an individual that he or she has been selected for the appointment.


Social Media

Social media platforms are readily available to anyone with Internet access via computer or smart phone, and their use as a means of information gathering and communication has fast become ingrained in our culture. With a single “tweet” or “status update” or “mobile upload,” a social networker can distribute information to thousands, if not millions, of users on a global scale with a simple stroke of the keyboard or text pad.

The line between work-related and personal communication has blurred as we utilize social media and related electronic communications for networking and communicating. There are a variety of reasons why board members should care about electronic communications, ranging from concerns about discrimination, to loss of confidential information, to the appearance of solicitation. It is important to remember that as a board member, you are a public official, who is charged with conducting important regulatory functions. One key issue in a board member using social media involves impropriety or the appearance of impropriety related to the quasi-judicial actions of the board. Examples include a board member who texts or uses social media during a board meeting, and a board member who posts or elicits posts about matters that could come before the board for action.

The board has an interest in ensuring that board members do not electronically communicate confidential information to third parties. The board should also be concerned about the impact of board member communications on the board’s culture by using electronic media to voice their gripes about board decisions or applicants/respondents conduct, which is something that can undermine the board’s authority. Simply put, social media is not the appropriate vehicle for complaints. We encourage board members to appropriately express their concerns during board meeting discussion, directly to board counsel, or to the board’s Executive Director, thus allowing address of that concern expeditiously and effectively.


Table of Contents

Disclaimer

Content provided by the Florida Department of Health presented herein is for informational purposes only. The Department has not screened each individual or organization that appears on this site or that is electronically linked to this site. The appearance of an individual or organization on this site is not intended as or in any manner serves as an endorsement of that individual or organization or any products or services identified on the individual’s or organization’s site. The Department disclaims any and all warranties with regard to the Website and Website information, including without limitation (A) Any implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, infringement or title, (B) Any warranty of quality, functionality, operability, use or performance of the Website or Website information, (C) Any warranty of the accuracy completeness or validity of data or information communicated through the Website or included in the Website information, (D) Any warranty of the continuous availability of the Website or Website information, or that the Website or Website information will be uninterrupted or error-free, (E) Any warranty that the Website information or other files or data available for access or downloading will be free of infection, viruses, or other code manifesting harmful, contaminating, or destructive properties, or (F) Any warranties arising from course of dealing, trade usage, trade practice or otherwise. In addition, the Department does not represent or warrant that any defects in the Website or errors in the Website information will be corrected. In addition, the department does not warrant either expressly or by implication any individual, organization, product or service appearing on this site or that is electronically linked to this site. The department strongly urges all users of this site to conduct their own investigation of any individual, organization, product or service appearing on this site or that is electronically linked to this site.

Various clipart and image collections appearing on this site are used under license by the department or its web managers for this site. These images are for viewing purposes only. Any reproduction may be prohibited under federal/state copyright or trade secret laws.