Just like everyone else, health professionals may encounter impairments such as substance abuse, emotional health and mental illness. However, when a health professional is seen as impaired, whether in their private life or professional practice, there is an assumption that the impairment detrimentally affects their ability to practice their chosen profession.
The Professionals Resource Network (PRN) provides evaluation and treatment to impaired practitioners on behalf of the State of Florida. By utilizing PRN, the state seeks to “protect the health, safety and welfare of the public, while at the same time supporting the integrity of the healthcare professionals.” Many practitioners mistakenly believe that PRN Florida is intended to protect the practitioner’s license.
PRN Florida is a good program for practitioners who have a serious substance abuse or mental health problems. However, practitioners with one-time incidents of impairment are often caught up in the broad net cast by a recommendation to PRN Florida. These non-impaired practitioners would obtain little to no benefit from the time, expense and work limitations put on them if they were required to enter PRN Florida.
Practitioners often contact PRN because they fear they will face formal licensing action if they do not report to PRN Florida. However, the truth is that:
Practitioners should not contact PRN Florida without first discussing their options with an attorney. Delegal & Poindexter will fight allegations of impairment and strive to find a solution that allows the practitioner to continue to practice, without unneeded monitoring and without the practitioner being identified impaired.
For some, PRN Florida is required. For others, it is voluntary and often recommended by an employer or the licensing board as a way to prevent licensing action. However, PRN is not the only option for resolving impairment allegations. The key is to seek advice from an attorney as soon as possible, preferably before reporting of the violation, to prepare a defense and discuss options before licensing action commences and PRN is made mandatory. In some cases, we are able to help practitioners avoid PRN and formal licensing action.
Accusations of or behaviors suggesting substance abuse or perhaps mental health problems can result in a practitioner being referred to PRN. Occasionally, complaints against practitioners come from disgruntled family members, terminated employees or former patients seeking some form of retribution. Impaired practitioners who realize they need help, may also self-refer to PRN.
If a practitioner answers “yes” to questions on his or her license application indicating there may be an impairment issue, the licensing board will frequently refer him or her to PRN for evaluation and, if needed, a contract.
If you are referred to PRN you should contact us before you contact PRN to schedule an evaluation. It is essential that you fully understand the implications that a PRN referral can have on your professional license and career before you schedule an evaluation.
If a PRN evaluation determines you are impaired, you are going to be required to sign a monitoring/advocacy contract with them. Most of the PRN contracts are for five years. Many practitioners are unaware PRN monitoring contracts may be negotiable. We are experienced with helping practitioners negotiate PRN contracts and can help in reducing the level of monitoring and the length of time monitoring is required by the contract. If you do not agree to enter into a contract with PRN, thereby refusing their recommendations, you will most likely be reported to the Department of Health (DOH) for disciplinary action.
Participation in PRN is usually confidential. However, you must inform your employer that you are enrolled in the program. While you participate and comply with the terms of your PRN agreement, the Department of Health and licensing boards will not take action against you. Yet if you become non-compliant with the terms of your PRN agreement, state law requires PRN to refer your case to the Department of Health for disciplinary action.
Practitioners frequently seek advice on whether they can effectively obtain an early release from or an adjustment to their PRN contracts. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to get released from a PRN contract without penalties after you have already enrolled. Therefore, you should be very cautious before you even agree to be evaluated by PRN. We encourage you to contact our attorneys to answer your questions and guide you on things to consider, including possible alternatives to the PRN.
It is often advisable to fight a referral to PRN. Delegal & Poindexter can advise you on the numerous alternatives to PRN. We use three factors when helping practitioners decide if PRN is a good option for avoiding licensing action:
In many cases, it may be more cost effective to hire an attorney. We will help you determine if PRN is the best option, and in some cases avoid the cost of PRN altogether, while allowing you to maintain your professional license. If PRN is a good option, we can help you negotiate a favorable agreement that is less restrictive and less expensive. We may also be able to help you find private treatment that is less expensive and as instructive as PRN, and still be sufficient to help you maintain your license.