If you are a nurse who has a complaint filed against you, you’ll want to understand the effects of a complaint on a nursing license. After all, once the Board receives a complaint it can be a scary time for any nurse. What if you were to lose your license? Would you then lose your job? Understanding these effects, and the possible consequences, can help you to better address the situation and give you the best chance at a favorable outcome.
Who is Able to Submit a Complaint?
Complaints can come from coworkers, employers, patients or a patient’s family members. Law enforcement can also submit a complaint against a nurse. For a nurse, failing to report a violation by another nurse can be a violation of the Nurse Practice Act. While the act may vary slightly from state to state, the purpose is to keep patients safe.
What Type of Conduct should be Reported?
One an individual becomes aware of a violation they should report it. There are a number of violations that require reporting, but a few of them include:
- A nurse looks to be mentally or physically unable to practice nursing safely.
- Nurse conduct appears to be a high risk factor to patients.
- When a nurse is practicing beyond the scope of their license. (For instance, adjusting the dosage for a patient without approval, giving a medication not authorized by the treatment provider, etc.)
- A nurse’s conduct appears to be a contributing factor in a patient’s death.
- The nurse is obviously misusing alcohol or other chemical substances.
Board Decisions or Actions
Once the Board receives a complaint, they will launch an investigation before then making a decision or holding a hearing. The Board decides what should be done as a result of the complaint and its severity. The four categories of action are:
- Dismissal | The Board dismisses the case if there is not enough evidence to support any discipline.
- Administrative violation | The complaint it is not an offense that must be reported to any national data centers. The Board will give a fine or penalty.
- Non-disciplinary action | The Board issues a Letter of Concern, which states there has been conduct that is low risk of bringing harm to the public.
- Disciplinary action | Include a civil penalty, a Decree of Censure (stated not to be a continued risk), probation, suspension and revocation. Also, when a license has been denied to an applicant the person cannot reapply to the Board for five years.
The Final Decision
Once the Board decides on discipline you can consent to the decision by signing a consent agreement or you can choose not to sign and opt to have a hearing. This hearing will be conducted by the Office of Administrative Hearings. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in the office will conduct the hearing before then reviewing everything and recommending a course of action to the Board. The Board then looks over the hearing transcripts and the ALJ recommendation. They have the final say. However, again, if the nurse doesn’t agree with the outcome, a request for a rehearing can be filed within thirty days.
Chelle Law Can Help
If you have had a complaint filed against your license seeking legal counsel is an important part of the process. An experienced attorney can help you to better understand the effects of a complaint on nursing license as well as defend you in front of the Arizona Board of Nursing. If you want more information, contact Chelle Law to schedule a consultation today.