By Allen R. Grossman, J.D.
Florida licensed physicians, whether actually practicing medicine in Florida or not, are required to renew their licenses to practice every two years. One of the requirements of biennial renewal is the completion of at least 40 of approved continuing medical education courses during each licensure biennium.
Licensees are not required to provide documentation at the time of renewal, but every licensee should maintain the documentation of timely completion of CME during each biennial renewal period, because the Department of Health (DOH) can perform random audits and require that timely completion of all required hours be proven. To be approved, CME courses must be AMA Category I or course work completed in an ACGME accredited postgraduate training program or specialty certification course work approved by the American College of Emergency Physicians, American Academy of Family Physicians or American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
For a licensee’s first renewal of licensure, one hour of the required CME must be in the topic of HIV/AIDS. In addition, for every third biennial renewal, licensees must have completed two hours of CME on the topic of Domestic Violence. The CME hours for each biennium must also include two hours relating to the prevention of medical errors. The remaining required CME hours may include risk management courses, and up to five hours of risk management credit may be earned by attendance at the disciplinary portion of a regularly scheduled Board of Medicine meeting.
In addition, physicians participating in the volunteer expert witness program for DOH may receive up to 15 hours of CME credit per biennium (five hours per case) for reviewing disciplinary cases. Physicians who act on behalf of the Board of Medicine (BOM) as designated monitors can receive six hours of CME credit for serving at least one year as the direct monitor of a disciplined licensee or three hours for serving as the indirect monitor of a disciplined licensee. It is also possible to obtain up to five hours of CME credit per biennium for providing pro bono medical services for an entity serving the indigent or in a designated area of critical need within the state of Florida. Requirements for obtaining these alternative credits for CME can be found in the BOM’s administrative rule 64B8-13.005, Florida Administrative Code.
For those physicians practicing in registered pain management clinics, by virtue of having worked in pain management for at least three years and having completed 40 hours of approved CME in pain management pursuant to rule 64B8-9.0131, Florida Administrative Code, there is also a specific requirement in the rule to have at least 15 hours per year of documented live lecture format Category I CME in pain management every year. (The BOM is currently considering language to include webinars and other online courses in the definition of “live lecture format” for this requirement.)
These hours may be included as part of the 40-hour biennial requirement for renewal of licensure. A physician’s failure to complete the appropriate number of approved CME hours for license renewal in a timely fashion can and often will result in the initiation of disciplinary action by the DOH. Usually, first-time cases will be resolved with a non-disciplinary citation that includes a fine and an assessment of costs. However, if you fail to respond to the citation in a timely manner or fail to agree to a citation, the disciplinary action can result in your license being placed involuntarily in an inactive status, imposition of administrative fines and costs, additional CME hours and possibly even suspension of licensure.
In order to avoid the expense and stress of such proceedings, every physician should be fully aware of the specific requirements they must meet for completion of CME for renewal and maintain appropriate documentation of all completed CME.
Allen R. Grossman is a former Assistant Attorney General who served as General Counsel to the Florida Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine. He is currently the managing partner of the Tallahassee law firm of Grossman, Furlow & Bayó, LLC, where he focuses primarily on the representation of health care providers before their Florida regulatory boards.
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