You worked hard to obtain your nursing license and become a trusted healthcare professional. Unfortunately, it can take only one complaint to have your career come to a halt. Should you be facing the possibility of losing your nursing license, here are 10 important things you need to remember.
Just like any other legal matter, you are entitled to due process under the law. Due process refers to the judicial process being fair. In relation to your nurse license, this means that the board will review your case and is supposed to treat you and your case fairly. To take full advantage of this, always become well-acquainted with your state’s disciplinary process.
Say as Little as Possible
Though this isn’t a criminal matter, a lot of nurse defense lawyers recommend that you follow a similar process as you would with the police. This also means that anything you say can be used against you in the process. No matter the accusations against you, say as little as possible to investigators or others until you have legal representation. Remember, anything you say will likely be used against you.
Learn the Allegations
Always know what the specific allegations are against you and who filed the complaint. While you may assume the complaint was made by a patient, it could have been made by a doctor or even one of your fellow nurses. This information should be provided to you when you are informed of your hearing. Ensure that you read each part of it and reach out to a professional lawyer if you have any questions. You may also find it helpful to reach out to a trusted mentor regarding the situation. They may be able to direct you to the right people and help you however they can.
Many Types of Misconduct
Many types of alleged misconduct can put your nursing license in jeopardy. Common ones include falsifying records, drug or alcohol use on the job, medication theft, and physical or sexual abuse of a patient. Though some of these are more obvious issues such as medication theft and sexual abuse. However, falsifying records may be a little more challenging to work through. Especially if the act was done accidentally. That being said, the consequences of your misconduct is taken into account and thus should be considered when you are reviewing your own case.
Hire an Attorney
You may be wondering if you should hire an attorney or if you should handle the case on your own. Never try to handle your nursing license defense on your own. Since these cases can be very complex, always hire a nurse license defense lawyer who has a track record of success in cases similar to yours. They will be able to handle all of your questions while also being able to prepare you for everything that may come up during your case.
Most Complaints are Unfounded
Fewer than one percent of nurses suffer disciplinary action in a typical year nationwide. Thus, remember that most complaints are unfounded and ultimately resolved without loss of license. That being said, you shouldn’t take complaints lightly. Take corrective action and follow the recommendations of a trusted mentor. If needed, reach out to a professional lawyer for help in your case.
Timely Response to Complaint
Once a complaint is filed against you, don’t delay in a formal response. The longer you wait, the more guilty you look to others. Typically, this kind of response can be done with a supervisor or at your place of work. Oftentimes, your place of work will have a process in place for making a response to the complaint.
State Board of Nursing
If a complaint against you is deemed to be worthy of further investigation, it will go to your state’s board of nursing, not the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. The state board will review the complaint and decide whether or not your case needs to be reviewed by the national council as well. However, a national inquiry is rare and based on the severity of the complaint.
Disciplinary officials always make an initial review of complaints. If it is unfounded and determined to be only a personality conflict or other similar matter, you will probably never be informed of the initial complaint. If you get a lot of that type of complaint, your supervisor will likely inform you to help you do better at your job. However, it is unlikely that these types of complaints will result in any license-related discipline.
Remember that there are alternative solutions that may help you avoid losing your nursing license. Working with disciplinary officials, your attorney can negotiate such alternative solutions as reassignment to other nursing duties, remedial training, and education, or additional supervision and support for you while on the job.
One of the best ways to avoid risking the loss of your nursing license is to thoroughly understand your responsibilities and rules regarding maintaining your license. By better understanding what you are and are not supposed to do as a nurse, you are less likely to make a mistake. Since you worked hard to obtain your nursing license, you should fight just as hard to keep it. By hiring an experienced defense attorney and learning about the disciplinary process, you may emerge victorious.