Florida keeps doctors’ arrests, convictions offline

Health News Florida’s Carol Gentry reports on health department disclosure of the arrest of medical professionals, writing “It’s the policy of Florida’s Department of Health not to post public information about arrests and convictions until a professional licensing board takes final action, no matter how long that takes.”

The department has a consumer-oriented site designed to notify Florida residents of disciplined physicians, but Gentry writes that it doesn’t even include already-public records and often fails to post issues until long after they have occurred. A representative told Gentry that their procedure was to not make information public while “due process is going on,” and added that if consumers wanted that information they were welcome to call the health department.

In a follow-up story, Gentry reports that attorneys who defend doctors in disciplinary matters think the Department of Health’s stance is “entirely appropriate.” But a consumer advocacy group says the public has a right to know about complaints. As Gentry points out, “It can take years to resolve pending cases, especially if the professional contests the case or if there is a backlog.”

1 thought on “Florida keeps doctors’ arrests, convictions offline

  1. Emily Berry

    It’s not just consumers who are left in the dark. I reported on a similar issue and discovered that in several states, there is no mandatory reporting between law enforcement and medical boards when one group is investigating a practitioner. So if a medical board is investigating a practitioner for wrong doing, they don’t need to inform the police about it, so unless someone else informs the local authorities, the police have no way of knowing about it and investigating it. That’s not to say that all medical board investigations need to be processed by law enforcement, too, but it would be nice if the two groups were required to at least talk to each other about it.

    (Here’s the link to my article “Medical staffs can discipline for crimes even when law enforcement hasn’t pressed charges,” NOTE: Subscription required, http://www.hcpro.com/content.cfm?dp=CRD&content_id=237750&publication=2971&)

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