The Fourth District Court of Appeal on Wednesday ruled in favor of a nurse appealing the revocation of her license.
The appellate court found the Florida Department of Health’s Board of Nursing violated Marie C. Cadet’s due process rights by “imposing a higher than permissible penalty” on the caregiver. The Department of Health alleged that Cadet had misappropriated expired prescription drugs from patients under her care in a nursing home, and had “engaged in unprofessional conduct” and ”failed to meet the minimal standards of acceptable and prevailing nursing practices” under Florida Statutes.
The opinion, authored by Judge Dorian K. Damoorgian, held that although the allegations against Cadet may have fit the charges of “unprofessional conduct,” they did not meet the definition of “failing to meet the minimal standards of acceptable and prevailing nursing practices.”
Read the opinion:
The statutory definition cited in the ruling characterizes “practical nursing” as “based upon the individual’s educational preparation and experience in nursing,” and focuses primarily on a nurse’s conduct when tending to patients under their watch.
Additionally, the opinion observed that of the two charges levied against Cadet, only one —failing to meet minimal standards of acceptable and prevailing nursing practice — qualified as grounds to suspend a nursing license.
“Nothing about the conduct the DOH alleged … had anything to do with the conduct outlined in the foregoing definition,” Damoorgian wrote. “The DOH did not allege or prove that appellant improperly administered or failed to administer drugs, exceeded the scope of her training, or did anything implicating patient care. Rather, the DOH’s allegation of ‘failing to return’ the drugs established that appellant misappropriated the drugs by failing to return expired medications to her employer’s pharmacy.”
In its footnotes, the ruling mentioned the disciplinary precedent for the charges against Cadet, noting that “the board’s own rule history reflects that the misappropriation of drugs does not qualify as grounds for discipline under the failure to meet minimal standards provision.”
The appellate court ultimately reversed the order revoking Cadet’s nursing license, remanded the case to the board to adjust her penalty in light of the new ruling.
Christine E. Lamia, chief appellate counsel with the Prosecution Services Unit of the Florida Department of Health, referred the Daily Business Review’s request for comment to Louise R. St. Laurent.
St. Laurent, interim general counsel for the Florida Department of Health, did not respond by press time.
Cadet’s attorney Luis A. Bonilla, managing partner at West Palm Beach firm Bonilla Law Associates, did not reply to requests for comment by press time.