If you hold a registered nursing license from the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) and are currently facing an investigation, administrative hearing, citation and fine, or other disciplinary action against your license, you cannot afford to stand on the sidelines and watch it all happen.
By contacting us at California License Attorney as early in the process as possible, you greatly improve your chances of keeping your license, protecting your professional reputation, or minimizing the severity of administrative actions taken against you in cases where a dismissal is not attainable.
Don't make the mistake of trying to "go it alone" in dealing with the BRN or of relying on a lawyer without deep experience in defending California RN licenses. We have the expertise it takes to effectively negotiate with the Board of Registered Nursing in your behalf.
Any statements you make to investigators could be used against you and limit your future defense options. Any missteps you make in dealing with the board (and they are easy to make if you are not a well trained license attorney) can adversely affect your career. It is in your best interests to quickly contact a California license lawyer to handle all communications with the BRN and to handle your case going forward.
We are always here to assist you. For a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced registered nursing license defense attorney, call us 24/7 at 888-959-0068.
The Modern Role and Importance of RNs
Registered nurses make up a larger proportion of the health care industry's work force than any other single medical role. For that reason alone, RNs are invaluable, but there are yet further reasons for their importance.
First, the roles RNs are filling have been expanding for decades. Today, RNs not only provide basic care but also provide patient education on health and wellness and on preventing future medical problems. They also assist in rehab efforts, work in intensive care and ER settings, administer anesthetics, act as midwives, assist physicians during surgeries, provide pediatric care, work in mental health institutes, and fill many other roles.
And nurses have become more and more the primary caregivers in recent years, taking on roles once reserved for physicians, thus lowering healthcare costs. This situation also, however, makes nurses an easy target for lawsuits and complaints. And their numbers and variety means exposure to a wide array of accusations that can lead to board-initiated disciplinary actions.
The Mission of the BRN
The Board of Registered Nursing exists not only to issue licenses to those who meet their educational and other professional standards but also to regulate the industry to protect patients and ensure a high level of care and of professionalism prevails.
To accomplish this mission, the BRN maintains a set of disciplinary guidelines they use in taking action against those deemed negligent, incompetent, or unsafe in their discharge of nursing duties. These guidelines go into detail as to which type of action is recommended for each type of violation of the Nursing Practice Act or of the Business and Professions Code.
In deciding if a violation will result in a mere reprimand, a citation and fine, a revocation/suspension of your license, or in putting the license on probation, the board will consider many factors. These include the class of complaint, the severity of the offense, what harm did or could have been inflicted on a patient, the existence of any previous disciplinary actions on your professional record, the existence of any criminal record, and the time that has elapsed since any prior violations of RN professional standards.
If a separate criminal case (whether misdemeanor or felony) is underway, the nursing board will also need to comply with any sentencing conditions that are involved in a court-approved probationary period.
Make no mistake, the Board of Registered Nursing is not looking out for you; they are concerned primarily about the public safety. But that does not mean they cannot be successfully negotiated with by an experienced attorney.
We at California License Attorney are familiar with the types of evidence that typically prevail to cancel or lower the severity of a possible board action against your license. We can present mitigating evidence in your favor, give evidence of rehabilitation efforts in the case of substance abuse, and of safe practice and continued education where applicable. We can also work to expose weaknesses in the evidence presented against you both before and at your hearing.
Note that the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who presides over your administrative hearing can be overridden in his/her decision by the BRN. Deviations from the officially recommended disciplinary guidelines (linked to above) are permissible, but a good reason must accompany the report of the decision. By presenting evidence in your favor and arguing solidly in your behalf, we give the ALJ space to give you a favorable ruling and justify it successfully to the BRN.
The BRN Enforcement Program
Whether valid or not and whether resulting in professional discipline or not, patients, clients, and others can register official complaints against an RN and trigger the BRN Enforcement Program to kick into action.
The is enforcement program begins with the Complaint Intake phase and may lead on to the Investigation, Legal Action, and Probation Monitoring stages.
When a complaint against you is made to the BRN, you will receive notice in writing within ten days. This is the time to immediately contact a good license lawyer. The earlier you respond, the better your chances of a favorable end-result.
What are the most common complaints made against RNs in California? Unsafe or negligent patient care, drug or alcohol addiction/abuse, using drugs while on the job, and using the wrong medications on patients are among the most common. But other complaints include: sexual misconduct, mental health issues, criminal charges/convictions, and fraudulent license applications.
Many issues, like billing disputes for example, do not fall within the scope of BRN concern. But all of the allegations that the board does investigate are very serious matters that you should not fight alone, without a top-tier license attorney representing you every step of the way.
It is important to realize that complaints can be filed anonymously, but should this be the case, it will be much more difficult for the Department of Investigation (DOI) to build a case against you. Many times, a complaint will also be filed confidentially, but when your attorney confronts and cross examines the witnesses and probes into the details of the evidence/accusation, the identity of the complainant will likely become known (during the appeal if not during the hearing).
If, after the initial investigation, the board's DOI decides enough evidence exists to proceed, a formal accusation will be filed. In making their decision, the DOI will interview the RN, the complainant, your employer, your coworkers, and others. They will also access relevant documents and records. A final report will be made to the board recommending to file or not file the accusation. As you can never be sure what will happen, it is best to contact a lawyer during the investigation so you will have the most time possible to build a solid defense.
When/if an accusation is filed, your lawyer will see the charges listed against you and will be given a chance to dispute those charges at a scheduled administrative hearing. You will also be served an official written notice of the allegations.
Possible Outcomes of the Investigation/Hearing
The investigation can take months or even years, depending on the complexity of the charge and of the evidence. In some cases, an interim suspension may be issued, but we can challenge that and often get it overturned so you can continue to work during the investigative process.
If the evidence is weak, the complaint will be "closed without merit." If there was sufficient evidence but the violation was not very serious, the complaint will be "closed with merit," meaning no action will be taken against your license but the violation will go on your record.
For certain minor violations, a citation and fine may be issued through a less formal process conducted by the Board of Registered Nursing Citation and Fine System. These can also be contested and appealed.
If the complaint concerned drug abuse or alleged mental illness, the BRN Intervention Program will handle it. This process maintains high levels of confidentiality and, in the case of drug addiction, can lead to drug rehab and education requirements.
If an administrative hearing is held, we will present mitigating evidence and factors in your favor. We can do the same during any settlement negotiations. This may win the hearing for you outright. However, even if that cannot be accomplished due to the nature of the case and the evidence, we can often gain you a stayed revocation and probation.
Probationary periods normally are for at least three years. To win a stay on revocation/suspension and probation, we can gather mitigating evidence such as official statements from your employer or supervisor, proof you have entered a rehab program if you have a chemical addiction, a physical exam from a licensed physician, and transcripts of any continuing education course you may have completed since the date of the complaint incident.
We can also fight for reinstatement of a revoked/suspended license or for modification (reduction) of the probationary period. There are minimal time periods we must wait to do this and limits to how far probation periods can be reduced, but we at California License Attorney know how to maximize your chances of minimizing your probation.
We can also negotiate and fight for more favorable probationary terms. There will have to be minimum probation requirements met and some form of monitoring to ensure you keep the terms of the probation, but we can work for the best outcome possible.
For example, all probation terms will include such things as avoiding criminal violations during the probation, reporting to a probation monitor in person, submitting written reports, supervision during RN work, and at least some limitations on your RN duties. A period of license suspension and completion of a drug rehab program will be required when substance abuse is the formal accusation. However, there are many specifics of probation terms that can be negotiated on and that will have a substantial affect on your life during the probation.
Finally, we can help you get your license reinstated as soon as possible if it is revoked/suspended. Normally, you will have to pay the costs incurred by the investigation and probation monitoring. But the board can reduce the required payment and allow a workable payment plan. Thus, there is room for us to fight for a better outcome for you even here.
Contact Us Today for Assistance
We at California License Attorney possess detailed knowledge of the rules and processes that apply when a California Board of Registered Nursing investigation into your professional conduct is launched.
We know how to neutralize many threats to your license and future career without even having to go through a hearing, and we understand the specialized rules of evidence and procedure that one must follow at such hearings should one become necessary. Whether you are struggling to keep your license, avoid a citation, get a license application approved, or get a suspended license reinstated, we are here to help.
To learn more or to avail yourself of a free initial consultation, contact us anytime 24/7 at 888-959-0068.