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Can nurses keep working if they are accused of misconduct?

No nurse wants to find themselves in the middle of allegations of misconduct. These allegations can result in an investigation and an adverse action report.

Unfortunately, those that find themselves in this situation are not alone. The National Practitioner Data Bank reports that 21,856 nurses faced adverse action reports in 2022. Thus far in 2023, over 4,000 nurses throughout the country are already navigating this issue.

What is an adverse action report?

Complaints against a nurse can include allegations of professional misconduct, errors in patient record keeping, treatment errors, abuse, and mistakes involving medication. Drug or other forms of substance abuse can also result in allegations of misconduct.

Why are accusations of misconduct more detrimental for nurses than other professions?

Allegations of misconduct are especially difficult for healthcare professionals for two reasons: HIPAA and the fact that these specialists have a professional license.

Lawmakers enacted the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to protect patient’s privacy. Although a noble goal, it can present a devastating hurdle for nurses and other healthcare professionals who face accusations of wrongdoing because it essentially prevents these professionals from speaking out to defend themselves. This means that it is generally unwise for a nurse to respond to comments on social media about the situation or they could also face allegations of a HIPAA violation.

What if I am the subject of an allegation of misconduct?

The Office of Professional Discipline as well as the hospital or practice that you work with may investigate allegations of misconduct. This can lead to disciplinary action that may include a reprimand, requirement the nurse complete additional education, pay fines, or even face suspension or revocation of their license.

The good news is that nurses are not on their own when facing these types of allegations. You can get legal counsel to help represent your interests. You can even move forward and appeal the board’s decision if you disagree with the outcome of the process. An attorney experienced in the niche area of nurse licensure within healthcare law can review your situation and discuss your options.

Attorney John Rivas is responsible for this communication.