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All nurses, whether they’re registered nurses, licensed practical nurses or Nurse Practitioners are required to be licensed in the state they practice in. State regulatory bodies that issue nursing licenses do so to make sure licensure candidates are competent to perform nursing activities safely within the scope of practice defined by the licensing authority and the state.
Nurses are required to renew their licenses at regular intervals. These time periods differ from state to state. If a nurse does not satisfy the state requirements necessary for license renewal, he or she will no longer be able to practice nursing in that state.
Nurses can also have their licenses suspended or revoked for various types of professional misconduct. These types of professional misconduct can include criminal conviction, drug diversion, practicing outside the authorized scope of practice, practicing while impaired on alcohol or drugs, sexually or physically abusing patients and filing false or incomplete reports.
If you learn that the institution at which you are employed or the licensing board in your state has received a complaint against you, it’s important to contact an attorney familiar with nursing license suspensions and revocations right away if you’re interested in retaining your license. You have legal rights in this matter, and an experienced New York nurse license defense lawyer can help you safeguard those rights.
NYC Nurse License Defense Attorneys Can Help
Licensing boards have a range of disciplinary actions at their disposal if they decide to penalize a nurse:
• License revocation
• License suspension
• License surrender
• Public letter of reprimand
• Private letter of admonishment
• The imposition of requirements in order to continue practicing nursing (probation)
Our Nurse License Defense Lawyers Can Help with Criminal Charges
In many states, any type of criminal charge will be reported to the regulatory body that issues nursing licenses, whether or not it pertains directly to a nurse’s scope of practice. Even if the arrest or conviction is not job-related, many regulatory nursing boards will consider it unprofessional conduct that violates nurse practice laws in that state.
Criminal charges may also be brought against nurses whose professional negligence rises to the legal standard of conduct defined as “reckless disregard for human life.” These types of behaviors can include the improper administration of a medication or the administration of an improper medication, injuring a patient with a piece of equipment, or failing to take the proper steps in an emergency. Nurses may also be held liable for nursing malpractice associated with these types of behavior, so nurses are well advised to carry nursing liability insurance that has specific coverage for professional licensure defense.
Drug Diversion and Substance Abuse
Allegations involving the diversion of controlled substances are one of the most common reasons for professional disciplinary actions taken against nurses. Drug diversion can take place in both hospital and outpatient settings, and typically involves the misuse of opioids.
While many nurses accused of drug diversion may be doing so for personal use because they suffer from substance abuse issues, nurses can also be accused of drug diversion when they administer controlled substances in violation of a workplace policy. Controlled substances are never supposed to be administered without a written order for example, but attending physicians in busy hospitals frequently give verbal orders for controlled substances that are never written down even after nurses administer them. A nurse who obeys such a verbal order may be risking his or her nursing license.
There’s no unanimity about the use of legally prescribed painkillers in the workplace. In some states, this may be considered a violation of nursing practice while in others, it may not. The language in many state nurse practice acts focuses on the extent to which taking such legally prescribed medications may “impair” the nurse’s ability to perform nursing duties competently, thereby compromising patient safety.
Practicing Outside the Scope of Practice
State nurse practice laws give general guidelines for the nursing scope of practice within that state, and these will be further defined by the written policies and procedures of each institutional health care provider. Within a health care institution, nursing scopes of practice may differ by specialty. Thus, a procedure that’s within the scope of practice for an Intensive Care Unit nurse may not be within the scope of practice for a Surgical Unit nurse. Registered nurses also have a broader scope of practice than licensed practical nurses. If you did something which you felt was correct, then you should speak to our NYC nurse license defense lawyers who can advocate on your behalf.
Falsifying patient records may also be grounds for nursing license suspension or revocation. Nurses who put off entering notes in patients’ charts until the very end of the shift are at particular risk for this because they may no longer remember every interaction they had with a given patient during the shift.
The Disciplinary Process
Patients, patients’ family members, coworkers and employers can file complaints against individual nurses. with a state nursing regulatory board. Once a complaint has been filed and an investigation has been initiated, the nursing board will notify the nurse in writing and give the nurse the opportunity to respond in writing. Any nurse in this position should consult an attorney before submitting a response.
Although nurses have the right to due process throughout any subsequent administrative hearing, nursing boards also have the right to revoke or suspend a nursing license immediately if a nurse is deemed to present an immediate danger to public safety.
Nursing board decisions can be appealed through state court appellate process, however the burden of proof will rest with the nurse to prove that the nursing board acted outside its scope of authority. If your nursing license is in jeopardy and you want to save it, a nursing license suspension attorney may be able to help you protect your rights.