In recent years, the practice of nursing has become more regulated. This means that the Nursing Boards have aggressively investigated complaints against nurses and sanctioned them for any violation of the Nurse Practice Act ("NPA"). However, not all complaints result in an investigation or disciplinary action by the Board. Some complaints are not considered violations of the NPA or are regarded as "minor incidents" and are dismissed. Others are scrutinized during the investigative process by the investigative team and the nurse is afforded the opportunity to respond to the allegations made against him/her and to show compliance with the NPA. Once all evidence is received, the investigative team then decides whether to close or settle the case. If the case is closed, the complaint and all evidence will be expunged from the nurse's file. If the team determines that a settlement is needed to resolve the case, the case will be settled either formally or informally. Each complaint is assigned to a Board Investigator. The Investigator will contact the licensee or applicant for a response to an allegation. You must have an attorney at this point since what you say in response to an allegation will determine the outcome of the investigation. Contact the Law Office of Jeffrey C. Grass immediately for a free consultation. It will be the most important call of your professional lives.
Nursing License Informal Settlement Process
Informal settlement will result in sanctions and remedies including a warning, reprimand, a fine, remedial education classes, practice supervision and other stipulations on the nurse's license for a specified period of time. Sometimes, the nurse and members of the Board will meet in person to discuss points of disagreement and attempt to resolve the matter so an informal resolution can be had. Disciplinary actions such as these are printed in the Nursing Board's quarterly newsletter and are reported to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc., the Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank ("HIPDB"), and the National Practitioner Data Bank ("NPDB"). Most disciplinary actions taken by the Board are public information and become a permanent part of the licensure record. Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey C. Grass to advise you as to how best to respond to the Nursing Board's report against your professional license. The way you respond may make the difference in your future privileges, licensing or employment opportunities.
Nursing License Formal Charges Administrative Hearing Process
If the nurse and the Board are unable to reach an agreement for informal settlement, or if the Board is unable to make contact with the nurse during the investigation, the Board will file formal charges based on the allegations. Formal charges require that the nurse file an answer to the charges in writing. If such an answer is not filed, the nurse's case may proceed toward revocation of the license(s) by default.
If an answer to the charges is filed, negotiations toward an agreed settlement may still occur while a public disciplinary hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") is being scheduled. If the case does not reach a settlement and proceeds to hearing, the case is referred to the State Office of Administrative Hearings ("SOAH"). At SOAH, the nurse is afforded due process rights and the case is presented to an ALJ. This hearing is conducted like a trial before the ALJ, with the presentation of evidence and witnesses. A Board attorney acts like a prosecutor and the nurse is entitled to legal defense counsel. At the close of the case, the ALJ renders a proposal for decision, which contains findings of fact and conclusions of law, and submits this proposal to the Board. Based on the findings of fact, conclusions of law and the proposal for decision, the Board may find that a violation has occurred and impose a penalty or may find that no violation occurred and close the case with no action.
Texas Peer Assistance Program for Nurses Process
Sometimes, a complaint to the Board involves issues of a nurse's chemical dependence or mental illness. In these cases, the Texas Peer Assistance Program for Nurses ("TPAPN") was created as a non-punitive, confidential and voluntary alternative to reporting RNs and LVNs to the Board. However, enrollment in TPAPN has far reaching implications. We at the Law Office of Jeffrey C. Grass strongly encourage any nurse to consult with us before agreeing to enter the TPAPN. The TPAPN program is operated by the Texas Nurses Association, and offers licensed nurses who are impaired to undergo treatment and to safely return back to nursing practice - all under the protection of confidentiality. However, the repercussions of entering this program may be overly severe and inappropriate depending on the nature and gravity of a nurse's affliction.
If allegations have been made about the quality of your nursing care or any other issue that could cause you to lose your nursing license, it is important to retain a defense lawyer right away. We at the Law Office of Jeffrey C. Grass have the experience and expertise to present your case in the most favorable light and ensure your professional license and reputation is protected.