Anytime a LVN or RN faces a disciplinary proceeding with Texas Board of Nursing (BON), he or she should immediately contact an attorney who is well-versed in the processes and professionals involved. With your license in jeopardy, you cannot afford to take on the matter alone or with someone who is not qualified to help you.
Here is what you can expect:
It starts with a complaint: The Texas BON receives more than 16,000 complaints about nurses each year. Not all of the complaints result in an investigation or disciplinary proceeding, though. The complaints that do not lead to an investigation or disciplinary proceeding often:
- Lack information about the nurse's identity
- Are out of the BON's jurisdiction
- Are determined to involve "minor incidents"
- Do not constitute violations of the Nursing Practice Act (NPA)
If an investigation does take place, nurses need to know that they have due process rights, which means that they have a right to formal proceedings before they can be disciplined or lose their licenses. They also have the right to an attorney during the process, who can help defend nurses against BON actions.
An investigation takes place: Usually the investigation takes place through the mail or over the phone, but on-site investigating can happen. In most cases, nurses are informed of the investigation and allegations from the start. Nurses have the opportunity to defend themselves and argue that they were in compliance with the NPA.
The investigation usually takes between five and 12 months to complete.
A determination will be made: The investigation team will determine if the nurse violated the NPA. If it is determined that a violation occurred and that a sanction is needed, then an Order of the Board will be issued. Sanctions could include:
- Remedial education
- A fine
- A warning
- A reprimand
- License revocation
An information settlement process may take place: This process involves the nurse being offered a proposed agreed order, which states the findings of the investigation, conclusions of law, sanction, and other requirements. If the nurse agrees to the proposed agreed order, he or she can sign it and submit it to the BON for final approval.
When a formal settlement process is necessary: If the nurse and the BON are not able to reach an agreement through the informal settlement process, formal charges are filed. The nurse must answer to these charges in writing. Negotiations between the nurse (or his or her lawyer) and the BON continue to take place while formal, public disciplinary hearings are scheduled.
If a disciplinary hearing is needed: The disciplinary hearings take place before an Administrative Law Judge, who hears arguments and evidence from both side and ultimately submits a proposal for decision (PFD) to the BON. Depending on the determinations made in the PFD, the BON either imposes appropriate penalties or closes the case without action.
Why a nurse facing a disciplinary proceeding should have a lawyer
The bottom line is that having an experienced attorney on your side can mean the difference between keeping your license and having your licensed revoked.
Our firm works hard to show that the allegations against our clients were incorrect or unfounded, or that there were circumstances that mitigate the situation. We conduct our own thorough investigation in order to build the best defense possible on behalf of our clients, often relying on the testimony of co-workers, patients or expert witnesses to back up our case.
When your license and reputation are on the line, we will protect you.