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What could unprofessional conduct for a nurse mean?

When nurses get a letter from a disciplinary board, the letter commonly concerns drug or alcohol issues, criminal convictions, inadequately maintaining patient records, or a host of other issues such as unprofessional conduct.

Such letters are often stressful for nurses, many of whom were unaware they were doing something wrong. Here is a look at what types of “unprofessional conduct” might concern a licensing board.

Using profanity

Suppose patients are being extremely difficult, and their nurses work hard at being patient. Finally, however, the nurses lose their temper and perhaps even curse. Some patients might decide to report the nurses. Of course, memories are imperfect, and a patient may think nurses cursed when they did not.

Losing focus

Unprofessional conduct could even be answering a cellphone repeatedly while taking a patient history or discussing a case with a patient. Patients do not know (or care about) the problems that nurses’ kids are having in school, and in fact, a nurse’s entire focus should be on the patient. A lawyer can more clearly explain any mitigating circumstances.

Expressing religious or political opinions

Even a seemingly offhand remark can lead to a nurse having to defend his or her license. For instance, take a patient who does not believe in God, and the nurse suggests that praying works wonders.

It is even possible to get into trouble when you are not communicating directly to a patient. Patients or their families can wander by the nurses’ station and overhear any manner of conversations. Whether a remark is directed to a patient or is overheard, the net effect might be that the patients feel uncomfortable or even at risk receiving care from a particular nurse.

If you are a nurse involved in a licensing defense matter, it is critical to understand the case. Even if you believe you are entirely innocent (and many of you are), also remember that there are many nuances involved in communication. Patients on medication may even confuse you for another nurse. An attorney can help you review the situation and decide on a good defense.