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The Florida Statutes

The 2001 Florida Statutes

Title XXXII
Regulation Of Professions And Occupations
Chapter 456
Health Professions And Occupations: General Provisions
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Section 456.076, Florida Statutes 2001

456.076  Treatment programs for impaired practitioners.--

(1)  For professions that do not have impaired practitioner programs provided for in their practice acts, the department shall, by rule, designate approved impaired practitioner programs under this section. The department may adopt rules setting forth appropriate criteria for approval of treatment providers. The rules may specify the manner in which the consultant, retained as set forth in subsection (2), works with the department in intervention, requirements for evaluating and treating a professional, and requirements for the continued care and monitoring of a professional by the consultant by an approved treatment provider.

(2)  The department shall retain one or more impaired practitioner consultants. A consultant shall be a licensee under the jurisdiction of the Division of Medical Quality Assurance within the department, and at least one consultant must be a practitioner or recovered practitioner licensed under chapter 458, chapter 459, or part I of chapter 464. The consultant shall assist the probable cause panel and department in carrying out the responsibilities of this section. This shall include working with department investigators to determine whether a practitioner is, in fact, impaired.

(3)(a)  Whenever the department receives a written or oral legally sufficient complaint alleging that a licensee under the jurisdiction of the Division of Medical Quality Assurance within the department is impaired as a result of the misuse or abuse of alcohol or drugs, or both, or due to a mental or physical condition which could affect the licensee's ability to practice with skill and safety, and no complaint against the licensee other than impairment exists, the reporting of such information shall not constitute grounds for discipline pursuant to s. 456.072 or the corresponding grounds for discipline within the applicable practice act if the probable cause panel of the appropriate board, or the department when there is no board, finds:

1.  The licensee has acknowledged the impairment problem.

2.  The licensee has voluntarily enrolled in an appropriate, approved treatment program.

3.  The licensee has voluntarily withdrawn from practice or limited the scope of practice as required by the consultant, in each case, until such time as the panel, or the department when there is no board, is satisfied the licensee has successfully completed an approved treatment program.

4.  The licensee has executed releases for medical records, authorizing the release of all records of evaluations, diagnoses, and treatment of the licensee, including records of treatment for emotional or mental conditions, to the consultant. The consultant shall make no copies or reports of records that do not regard the issue of the licensee's impairment and his or her participation in a treatment program.

(b)  If, however, the department has not received a legally sufficient complaint and the licensee agrees to withdraw from practice until such time as the consultant determines the licensee has satisfactorily completed an approved treatment program or evaluation, the probable cause panel, or the department when there is no board, shall not become involved in the licensee's case.

(c)  Inquiries related to impairment treatment programs designed to provide information to the licensee and others and which do not indicate that the licensee presents a danger to the public shall not constitute a complaint within the meaning of s. 456.073 and shall be exempt from the provisions of this subsection.

(d)  Whenever the department receives a legally sufficient complaint alleging that a licensee is impaired as described in paragraph (a) and no complaint against the licensee other than impairment exists, the department shall forward all information in its possession regarding the impaired licensee to the consultant. For the purposes of this section, a suspension from hospital staff privileges due to the impairment does not constitute a complaint.

(e)  The probable cause panel, or the department when there is no board, shall work directly with the consultant, and all information concerning a practitioner obtained from the consultant by the panel, or the department when there is no board, shall remain confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1), subject to the provisions of subsections (5) and (6).

(f)  A finding of probable cause shall not be made as long as the panel, or the department when there is no board, is satisfied, based upon information it receives from the consultant and the department, that the licensee is progressing satisfactorily in an approved impaired practitioner program and no other complaint against the licensee exists.

(4)  In any disciplinary action for a violation other than impairment in which a licensee establishes the violation for which the licensee is being prosecuted was due to or connected with impairment and further establishes the licensee is satisfactorily progressing through or has successfully completed an approved treatment program pursuant to this section, such information may be considered by the board, or the department when there is no board, as a mitigating factor in determining the appropriate penalty. This subsection does not limit mitigating factors the board may consider.

(5)(a)  An approved treatment provider shall, upon request, disclose to the consultant all information in its possession regarding the issue of a licensee's impairment and participation in the treatment program. All information obtained by the consultant and department pursuant to this section is confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1), subject to the provisions of this subsection and subsection (6). Failure to provide such information to the consultant is grounds for withdrawal of approval of such program or provider.

(b)  If in the opinion of the consultant, after consultation with the treatment provider, an impaired licensee has not progressed satisfactorily in a treatment program, all information regarding the issue of a licensee's impairment and participation in a treatment program in the consultant's possession shall be disclosed to the department. Such disclosure shall constitute a complaint pursuant to the general provisions of s. 456.073. Whenever the consultant concludes that impairment affects a licensee's practice and constitutes an immediate, serious danger to the public health, safety, or welfare, that conclusion shall be communicated to the secretary of the department.

(6)  A consultant, licensee, or approved treatment provider who makes a disclosure pursuant to this section is not subject to civil liability for such disclosure or its consequences. The provisions of s. 766.101 apply to any officer, employee, or agent of the department or the board and to any officer, employee, or agent of any entity with which the department has contracted pursuant to this section.

History.--s. 38, ch. 92-149; s. 1, ch. 95-139; s. 310, ch. 96-406; s. 1085, ch. 97-103; s. 3, ch. 97-209; s. 94, ch. 97-261; s. 2, ch. 98-130; s. 94, ch. 2000-160; ss. 29, 117, ch. 2000-318.

Note.--Former s. 455.261; s. 455.707.