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Unformatted text preview: Vol. XIV, No. 2 March 2007 Health Law Section Newsletter www.flabarhls.org THE FLORIDA BAR Volume XIV, No. 2 • March 2007 • Page 13 Public Health - Legal Basics Exercise of Public Health Authority – Florida and Federal by Rodney M. Johnson, JD, BCHL, Pensacola, Florida The exercise of authority to protect the public’s health is performed by various state and federal agencies. The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) is the principal state agen- cy. 1 The Agency for Health Care Ad- ministration and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services perform some functions protecting the public’s health as well. Other agencies considered to have some authority to exercise to the benefit of the public’s health include the De- partment of Elder Affairs, the Depart- ment of Children and Families, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Department of Juvenile Justice. On the federal scene the principal agency exercising authority for the public’s health is the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Within HHS are several other im- portant sub-agencies we often hear about, the Center for Disease Con- trol, the National Disaster Medical System, the National Institutes of Health, the United States Public Health Service and the Food and Drug Administration. 2 In the case of catastrophic issues the Depart- ment of Defense may be called upon to assist with protecting the public’s health as we have recently seen with the various hurricanes affecting the southern states. The phrase ‘public health’ appears 538 times in Florida Statutes 3 and an amazing 5,041 times in the United States Code. 4 Thus, it is clear that our laws are intently interested in public health. Court decisions ad- dressing public health rarely occur. This is likely due to the use of vol- untary compliance efforts being first employed by organizations exercis- ing public health authority. When voluntary compliance does not occur several means are available to protect public health. The most dramatic of these alternatives is state or federal quarantine. The FDOH is the principal agency dealing with day to day health care issues as it relates to the average Florida citizen. The legislature has established that the FDOH is re- sponsible for the state’s public health system also identifying, assessing, and controlling communicable dis- ease. Another responsibility is envi- ronmental health issues that impair the public’s health. 5 The FDOH is organized as a state agency but also has sixty-seven (67) county health departments that operate in part- nership with county governments. 6 The FDOH has responsibility to ad- minister and enforce laws relating to sanitation, communicable disease, illness and hazards among humans and illnesses transmissible from ani- mals to humans, a fairly substantial burden....
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This note was uploaded on 08/23/2011 for the course BUL 4602 taught by Professor Johnson during the Spring '11 term at W. Florida.
- Spring '11