Perhaps a patient was unhappy with the care they received, a family member felt the medical community failed a loved one or a coworker was upset. Whatever the reason that may lead to a complaint, it is important for nurses to know that official complaints within the field are not uncommon.
The Texas Board of Nursing (BON) reports it receives over 16,000 complaints every year. In these situations, the board will review the complaint and make one of three determinations:
- Option #1: In this scenario, the board will review the information in the complaint and determine there is not a violation or that they do not have jurisdiction over the complaint. If the BON does not have jurisdiction, they may refer the complaint to another agency. If the BON closes the complaint, it will either expunge the complaint and evidence immediately or hold it for a certain period of time.
- Option #2: The complaint could lead to a referral to the Texas Peer Assistance Program for Nurses (TPAPN). This group aids nurses who face allegations of substance abuse or who may have a mental health condition.
- Option #3: If substantiated, the complaint may result in an investigation. The investigation may result in a finding in favor of the nurse and closure of the complaint or additional action. Additional action could include proposed recourse against the nurse, a formal filing of charges or referral to the TPAPN.
Unless doing so would impede the course of the investigation, the BON will generally notify the nurse of the investigation. Although the BON will inform the nurse of the complaint, the source will likely remain anonymous.
Nurses who find themselves the subject of these investigations have options. They can take action to defend their license. An attorney experienced in nurse licensing issues can help.