Legislative Updates – Week 6

When An Irresistible Force Meets an Unmovable Object…

As we write this, we are completing the sixth of the nine weeks of Florida Legislative Session, during which Medical Office Regulation and Scope of Practice issues have taken center stage.

In the wake of several death in office surgeries, we teamed with Senator Anitere Flores and Representative Anthony Rodriguez to introduce SB 732 and HB 933, respectively, to address shortcomings in the Florida law.  As amended (with our input and support), the bills would, for the first time, make the office facilities, owners, operators, and physicians all susceptible to discipline for violations of the State’s Office Surgery Rule.  Current Law only allows the Board of Medicine to discipline the surgeon, and it has been discovered that several unscrupulous practices, owned by non-physicians, have escaped responsibility for substandard care.  The bills have each passed two committees in each chamber, and it is anticipated that each will pass its Appropriations  stop next week.  Finally, passage is then expected in the final two weeks of Session.  It is important to note that this new law, as amended, will NOT affect the most common minor procedures performed in physician offices or procedures performed in ASCs or hospitals.

On Scope of Practice matters, HB 821, which would allow independent practice of Nurse Practitioners and PAs, on Wednesday passed its last House committee over our objections and is expected to be passed by the House.  Moreover, the whole House has moved legislation that would allow pharmacists to diagnose and prescribe. We have, however, secured support in the Senate to stop the bill, and we  expect that support to prevent final passage of the bill.

Not all of the legislation passing the House is bad.  For instance, the House is moving legislation that would require hospitals to notify a patient’s treating physician(s) when a patient is admitted and allow such physicians, even if not on staff, to at least participate in the patient’s care.

We hope that the above is useful.  Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact Chris Nuland at nulandlaw@aol.com.