OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol
OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol

Department of Health

Medical Quality Assurance

What is the purpose of the program?

The purpose of the Medical Quality Assurance (MQA) program is to effectively and efficiently regulate health care professionals in order to protect the health and safety of all citizens and visitors to the state who access health care services.

What are the program's major functions?

The program performs three major functions.
  • Licensure. To ensure that health care professionals meet certain minimum standards, the program administers professional testing and processes licensure applications and renewals.
  • Enforcement. To protect the public from incompetent, unethical, or impaired practitioners, the program investigates complaints against health care professionals. Once an investigation is complete, legal staff makes a recommendation about whether the evidence supports disciplinary action against the health care practitioner and presents a recommendation to the relevant professional board.
  • Public Information. To help people make more informed choices about their health care practitioners, the program provides current licensure information for all licensed health care providers and more extensive profile information for members of specific professions. Practitioner profiles contain information about the practitioner's educational and professional background and any disciplinary action taken against the practitioner within the past 10 years.

Who regulates practitioners?

In Florida, health care practitioners are governed by professional licensing boards or councils. Board or council appointments vary by profession and may be made by the Governor, Speaker of the House, President of the Senate, Surgeon General, and other state agencies as specified in law. Board members share authority with the department for developing rules for licensure, establishing exams, setting fees, establishing guidelines for discipline, and reducing the unlicensed practice of health care professions.

The boards and councils are housed within the Department of Health. The division of MQA coordinates, supports, and manages the programs and services of the regulatory boards and councils and department-administered healthcare professions. The program also directly regulates some health care facilities.

Currently, the program, in conjunction with 22 boards and six councils, regulates 200-plus license types in more than 40 professions and nine types of health care facilities (dental laboratories, electrolysis facilities, massage establishments, office surgery facilities, pain management clinics, optical establishments, pharmacies, and resident and nonresident sterile compounding pharmacies.)

Information about the professional licensing boards and councils, including board membership, minutes of board meetings, and the board's meeting schedule, is available on the MQA website by clicking on the appropriate profession in the list. This site also contains information on each profession's licensure process, including licensure requirements, application deadlines, and exam requirements. Other requirements, such as continuing education and license renewal requirements, are also provided.

How many health care license applications and renewals does MQA issue each year?

The department and the individual boards are responsible for licensing approximately 1.3 million health care practitioners. In Fiscal Year 2018-19, the department issued 100,073 initial licenses and processed 520,065 renewals. During this same period, 3,379 in-state licenses were inactive. The department reported 24,602 licensed facilities and establishments; of those, 297 were delinquent.

How timely is the program at issuing licenses?

In Fiscal Year 2018-19, the program took 57.4 days to issue licenses, a decrease of 1.7 days (2.88%) from the prior year.

How do I file a complaint?

The Consumer Services Unit is the major point of intake for consumer complaints about health care practitioners in Florida. Complaints may be filed using the Florida Health Care Complaint Portal, calling 850-245-4339, or emailing MQA.ConsumerServices@flhealth.gov.

How timely is the program in processing and investigating complaints?

The program has 180 days from the receipt of a complaint to complete an initial investigation and make a recommendation concerning the existence of probable cause to the probable cause panel made up of members from the appropriate board. In Fiscal Year 2018-19, the program investigated 5,305 legally sufficient complaints and determined that probable cause for pressing charges against a licensee existed for 1,702 cases. For Fiscal Year 2018-19, 95.0% of complaints were investigated for probable cause within 180 days, which was above the approved standard of 90.0%.

In addition, for Fiscal Year 2018-19, the department received 1,051 complaints alleging unlicensed activity. During the same year, 1,075 unlicensed activity complaints were referred for investigation and the department made 603 referrals to law enforcement. Unlicensed activity is a criminal offense and often requires coordination with law enforcement. Prosecution is handled by state attorneys.

How do I access background information on a practitioner?

Licensure information for all health care practitioners and providers is available on the department's web page. Profiles are available for all practitioners including physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors, medical school faculty, and advanced registered nurse practitioners. At initial licensure and again at renewal, all providers and practitioners update their educational and professional background and describe any final disciplinary actions taken against their license by their profession within the last 10 years. The public can use the Medical Quality Assurance Search Services on the website to access information about a provider's license status, (active, inactive, etc.) a practitioner's profile, and reports of discipline or administrative action taken by the department.

How are these activities funded?

The Medical Quality Assurance Trust Fund's sources of revenue are licensure and other fees and fines paid by the health care professions and facilities licensed under Ch. 456, Florida Statutes.
Fiscal Year: 2020-21
Fund Salary Rate/ Position General Revenue Trust Funds
SALARY RATE
POSITIONS
SALARIES AND BENEFITS
FROM MEDICAL QUALITY ASSURANCE TRUST FUND
OTHER PERSONAL SERVICES
FROM MEDICAL QUALITY ASSURANCE TRUST FUND
EXPENSES
FROM FEDERAL GRANTS TRUST FUND
FROM MEDICAL QUALITY ASSURANCE TRUST FUND
OPERATING CAPITAL OUTLAY
FROM MEDICAL QUALITY ASSURANCE TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
ACQUISITION OF MOTOR VEHICLES
FROM MEDICAL QUALITY ASSURANCE TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
UNLICENSED ACTIVITIES
FROM MEDICAL QUALITY ASSURANCE TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
TRANSFER TO DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS
FROM MEDICAL QUALITY ASSURANCE TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
CONTRACTED SERVICES
FROM FEDERAL GRANTS TRUST FUND
FROM MEDICAL QUALITY ASSURANCE TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
GRANTS AND AIDS - CONTRACTED SERVICES
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
FROM FEDERAL GRANTS TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
RISK MANAGEMENT INSURANCE
FROM MEDICAL QUALITY ASSURANCE TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
LEASE OR LEASE-PURCHASE OF EQUIPMENT
FROM MEDICAL QUALITY ASSURANCE TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
GRANTS AND AIDS - HEALTH CARE EDUCATION REIMBURSEMENT AND LOAN REPAYMENT PROGRAM
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
TRANSFER TO DEPARTMENT OF MANAGEMENT SERVICES - HUMAN RESOURCES SERVICES PURCHASED PER STATEWIDE CONTRACT
FROM MEDICAL QUALITY ASSURANCE TRUST FUND
TOTAL
5,000,000
65,770,687

Updates

The 2020 Legislature enacted several laws related to the practice of health care in Florida.
  • Health Access Dental Licenses.  To attract dentists to practice in underserved health access settings in Florida, Chapter 2020-47, Laws of Florida, reenacts provisions relating to issuance, renewal, and revocation of health access dental licenses and provides for retroactive application.
  • Autonomous Practice for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses.  Chapter 2020-9, Laws of Florida, provides for the registration of an advanced practice registered nurse to engage in autonomous practice.   It also requires the department to adopt rules relating to scope of practice.  It establishes the Council on Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Autonomous Practice to recommend standards of practice for advanced practice registered nurses engaging in autonomous practice for adoption in rule by the board. 
  • Practice of Pharmacy.  Chapter 2020-7, Laws of Florida, creates a collaborative pharmacy practice agreement between a pharmacist and a physician, requiring the agreement to be appropriate to the training and scope of practice of the pharmacist and physician.  It authorizes pharmacists to test for and treat influenza and streptococcus. 
  • Consultant Pharmacists.  Chapter 2020-8, Laws of Florida, requires a pharmacist to complete additional training for consultant pharmacist licensure in order to perform specified services.  It prohibits a consultant pharmacist from modifying or discontinuing medicinal drugs prescribed by health care practitioner and requires they maintain collaborative practice agreements.  It prohibits a consultant pharmacist from diagnosing any disease or condition.
  • Keep our Graduates Working ActChapter 2020-125, Laws of Florida prohibits state authorities from denying a license, refusing to renew a license, or suspending or revoking a license on the basis of delinquency or default in payment of a student loan.

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

Florida's Participation in the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Would Require Statutory Changes to Avoid Legal Conflicts, Report 19-07, October 2019
Approximately 42% of Nursing Programs Had Licensure Exam Passage Rates Below the Required Legislative Standard in 2016, Report 17-07, June 2017
Review of Florida's Nursing Education Programs, 2016, Report 17-03, January 2017
Approximately 42% of Nursing Programs Had Licensure Exam Passage Rates Below the Required Legislative Standard in 2015, Report 16-05, July 2016
Florida's Nursing Education Programs Continued to Expand in 2015, Report 16-02, January 2016
Over One-Third of Nursing Programs Had Licensure Exam Passage Rates Below the Required Legislative Standard in 2014, Report 15-07, July 2015
Florida's Nursing Education Programs Continued to Expand in 2014, Report 15-04, January 2015

Where can I get more information?

Other Reports
Reports and Publications, Division of Medical Quality Assurance.
2019 Florida Physician Workforce Annual Report, Department of Health.
Auditor General reports related to Medical Quality Assurance are available on its website.
Websites of Interest
Federation of State Medical Boards
National Practitioner Data Bank
Performance Information
Performance measures and standards for the department may be found in its Long Range Program Plan.

What are the applicable statutes?

Title XXXII (Chs. 456 through 468), and ss. 20.43 and 401.34, Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

Cassandra Pasley, Director, Division of Medical Quality Assurance, 850-245-4080, email:  cassandra.pasley@flhealth.gov  

Consumer Services Call Center, 850-245-4339

 
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