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Could a nurse lose his license for wearing hospital scrubs?

Medical professionals should have the ability to push for a safer work environment, right? This may seem like a reasonable assumption, but there are instances when such action can result in the loss of a job and even the revocation of one’s nursing license. How could this happen? A recent case provides an example.

In this case, a nurse states he was fired by hospital management in an effort to scare others out of speaking up and reporting safety violations. Management fired the nurse, who had worked in the field for over a decade, after he filed a complaint when managers attempted to enforce a policy that requires nurses to reuse their own scrubs instead of using hospital-issued scrubs.  The nurse continued to wear hospital-issued scrubs as needed, in violation of the managers’ policy. As a result, hospital officials wrote up the nurse for his violation and ultimately terminated him from his position within the hospital.

Unfortunately, the loss of his job at the hospital was not the end of the issue. Shortly after his termination, he received a notice from the nursing board stating the board was also investigating the incident. This could lead to additional penalties, a suspension or even revocation of his nursing license.

What options are available for nurses in these types of situations?

Nurses who find themselves in a similar situation have options. In this case the nurse has filed a lawsuit against the hospital, claiming illegal retaliation and wrongful termination. If successful, this type of claim can result in monetary award for lost wages as well as reinstatement. Possibly even more importantly, this type of legal action can hold the facility accountable for putting the nurse, other nurses and their families at increased risk of exposure to illness due to a failure to provide access to clean scrubs. This could lead to a change in policy and even culture within the hospital.

Nurses can also act to defend themselves during an investigation by a nursing board. The board’s decisions are not final. Nurses can appeal these decisions and better ensure their license is protected.