Protecting Your Nursing License During a Complaint

On May 6, we celebrated National Nurses Day in honor of the hard work and dedication of nurses nationwide. If you are a nurse, you know how essential your service is to your patients, but unfortunately even the best nurses struggle with complaints.

As you can imagine, receiving a complaint can be incredibly stressful, especially when you have dedicated your life to your profession. The good news is that there are many ways to properly handle a complaint without jeopardizing your license.

Understanding the Board

While many people think the Board of Nursing is there to support them, in reality the Board is in place to ensure that nurses properly do their jobs. This means that you may only perform the duties outlined by the Board in your scope of practice. If you haven’t reviewed your scope of practice since nursing school, it’s a good idea to refresh yourself. Remember that if you are ever asked to do something outside of these duties, you must decline.

Be Prepared and Proactive

Before you begin your practice, make sure to look into professional liability insurance. This type of insurance is affordable and covers large malpractice suits as well as licensure issues. If a complaint is made against you, you’re the insurance will cover at least some of the expense associated with defending against the Board.

If a complaint has been lodged against you, be proactive.  Contact an attorney to discuss how you can best hedge the complaint process, avoid issues with your employer, and start defending yourself.

Start improving your nursing practice by enrolling in a continuing education course or improving your documentation to show that you’re committed to bettering your practice.

Something many nurses don’t know is that prior to your license being revoked, it is possible to work with the Board to agree on a disciplinary action that will help you improve your practice while keeping your license. If you can show your dedication during this process, it will go a long way.

Work With a Lawyer

A licensure lawyer who is experienced in nursing can help you understand the complaint and what you need to do to fight it. They can also help you find ways to improve your practice, which will help the Board see you in a more favorable light. In addition, the Board will always communicate with your lawyer, which will make the process far less stressful.

Take Documentation Seriously

Whether you have never had a complaint lodged against you or are currently facing one, make sure that you document every action you take as a nurse. For example, if you give a patient medication but fail to document it, legally you did not perform the action and you are liable. In addition, document continuing education or other practice improvements you’ve made.

Meet the Board’s Conditions

Is it always important to be responsive to the Board.  However, before you respond and provide written details or your side of the story about a complaint, consult a lawyer. Remember, what you say can be used against you.  Always be mindful of your reporting requirements.  If you are convicted of a crime, or suffer out of state discipline, you may have to report these items at the time of renewal, or within a certain timeframe.  Specifically, if you are convicted of a crime, you have 30 days to report this to the Board.  Document your reporting.   Again, consult a lawyer before writing too much detail about the item you are reporting.  You want to protect yourself.

If you experience legal issues with your nursing license, seeking the assistance of a qualified nursing license defense attorney is essential. For help from a lawyer you can trust, contact Scott Harris. Schedule a free, 30-minute consultation or call us at 323-794-0701.

This blog is meant to be informational. It is not meant to be all-encompassing legal advice. If you are facing a situation involving your professional license, seek counsel from a licensed attorney.