Can the Department of Health Discipline Nurses?

Disciplinary action against a nurse can have consequences that hurt or even destroy the career they’ve worked hard to build. With that in mind, if you’re a California nurse concerned about disciplinary action by the Department of Health (DoH), you should take steps to protect yourself.

Being prepared to handle disciplinary action means understanding which boards hold disciplinary authority in California and when it’s time to consult a nursing license defense lawyer.

The Department of Health and California Nurses

In some states, the DoH has blanket authority to issue disciplinary action for healthcare professionals, but that isn’t the case in California. Taking action against a nurse for violating the Nursing Practice Act (NPA) falls under the sole authority of the Board of Registered Nursing (BRN).

If you’ve recently had an encounter with a DoH employee that has left you fearful of disciplinary action, the good news is that the individual cannot take action through the state’s Department of Health.

The bad news, however, is that the employee is unlikely to look the other way if they witness something they find problematic. Although the employee can’t directly take action through their own department, they can still file a complaint with the BRN.

The Board of Registered Nursing and Disciplinary Action

The Board of Registered Nursing has the legal authority to discipline nurses in California, according to the Business and Professions Code, Section 2750. The BRN must investigate every complaint it receives about a California nurse’s conduct, and it typically takes one of three actions while receiving a complaint.

These actions are as follows:

  • Dismissing the complaint as not related to the NPA
  • Recommending treatment for complaints related to substance use or mental health concerns
  • Recognizing the complaint as relevant and launching an investigation

If a DoH employee files a complaint, it’s cause for concern, as such an employee is likely aware of the expected standard for a nurse’s behavior and thus unlikely to file a complaint for something that doesn’t clearly fall under the NPA.

Getting Ahead of a California BRN Complaint

If you’re a California nurse concerned about facing disciplinary action after a recent encounter with a DoH employee, it’s best to get ahead of any potential complaints.

Depending on the nature of the complaint that gets filed, disciplinary action can lead to consequences that include probation or even the loss of your nursing license. Even if you are able to continue working, an investigation can harm your reputation and your standing at your current job, as well as your ability to find future employment.

The best way to protect your license and reputation is to schedule a consultation with a nursing license defense lawyer, who can advise you on the possible forms of disciplinary action you might face and suggest how to protect your license.

Consult a Nursing License Defense Lawyer Today

The best way to beat disciplinary action against your nursing license is to prepare for the worst, so contact S J Harris Law to schedule a consultation with an experienced California nursing license defense lawyer today.

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When dealing with these complex issues, you need legal representation that has a long track record of success in these types of cases. Scott Harris and the rest of our team at S J Harris Law will be ready to help you pursue any option available that allows you to keep your license and continue working, no matter what industry you are in.


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