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What is a nurse’s first steps if their license is threatened?

Many different things can threaten a nurse’s professional license. A patient could file a complaint with the state nursing board, or an employer may reach out to the board. Whatever led to the complaint, it is likely the board will move forward. The first thing the board generally does is check to see if the complaint is within their jurisdiction. In most cases, this means the board will make sure the issue involves their state. Next, the board will look into whether or not the allegations would result in a violation of nursing rules and regulations. If so, the board will conduct a formal investigation.

#1: Take the matter seriously.

A notification of an investigation is serious. It will not just go away. The board may move forward with an investigation even when a complaint seems frivolous or a complete fabrication. As a result, it is important to take any notification of an investigation seriously. A report by Minority Nurse notes that ignoring the complaint is the single biggest mistake a nurse can make when facing an investigation.

#2: Review insurance coverage.

Some nurses may have insurance that helps cover the expense that comes with building a defense against a board complaint. This could be in the form of a professional malpractice insurance policy or other form of insurance. It is important to note that not all types of malpractice insurance have this type of coverage. Review the policy and look for a provision that specifically addresses board complaints.

#3: Watch for deadlines.

The nurse should receive notification from the board of the investigation. This notification may have all sorts of information, including questions from the board and various deadlines. It is extremely important to watch for these deadlines. If the nurse does not respond or take the requested action within the given timeline, the board could move forward with a default judgement. This could lead to a revocation before the nurse even has a chance to defend themselves against the allegations.