As hard as it might be to believe it really isn’t okay to borrow money from a client. For me that is an obvious breech of our fiduciary relationship with our clients. I think we all know that committing fraud or conspiring to commit fraud through insurance, Medicare and Medicaid billing isn’t okay either. Again, we know that sexually inappropriate behaviors are also prohibited.
So, why in the past several months have multiple clinicians been disciple for these actions? I’d say it is because they took the risk, got caught in their deceit and were held accountable for their impropriety.
What are the risks and or costs of these violations? In one case the possible actions of the Department of Health to discipline a licensee for having borrowed tens of thousands of dollars from a client and failing to repay the funds include permanent revocation or suspension of Respondent’s license included: restriction of practice, imposition of an administrative fine, issuance of a reprimand, placement of the Respondent on probation, corrective action, refund of fees billed or collected, remedial education and/or any other relief that the Board deems appropriate. The final settlement included a one year suspension of license. At the end of suspension, all elements of probation as outlined in the laws and rules would become effective and the completion of a 3-day ethics and boundary course must be completed within the first year of probation. In a typical probationary process the probationer must attend weekly supervision with a Board approved supervisor, quarterly reports submitted by the probationer and the supervisor, and all client records are reviewed. Usually there is a fine of ~$2,500 and payment of the costs of the investigation. The other specifics for this case were not noted in the Board’s meeting minutes and are not yet posted online. My summary doesn’t include the costs of legal representation for responding to this complaint and the agony of anxiety related to being notified of the investigation and all that entails. Wouldn’t you agree that the costs far outweigh any possible benefit such a loan would offer?
I’m not going to address the specifics of any other cases. Rather, I’d like to refer you to your copy of the Florida Statute 491 and Rules 64B4. You will find the parameters that guide the board in making their decisions upon hearing a case. If you don’t have a current copy of the laws and rules feel free to contact me or the Board directly. In the coming year consider taking a Renewal Laws and Rules course so that you learn the most up-to-date guidelines for licensure, supervision, disciplinary actions and more.
– Catherine L. Waltz, PhD, is an adjunct professor in the graduate program of the School of Social Work, Barry University. She is a continuing education provider in the state of Florida providing courses on professional ethics, laws and rules, supervision, mental health error prevention and a specialist in domestic violence. https://drwaltz.com/courses/workshops-at-a-glance
The educational commentaries provided by Dr. Waltz do not constitute a legal opinion. If legal advice is needed, it is recommended that contact be made with an attorney qualified in the jurisdiction in which you practice or is applicable to your case. We recommend that you use your knowledge of the law and your code of ethics in conjunction with this and any other information when deciding upon your course of action.