If you hold a vocational nursing or a psychiatric technician's license in the state of California and are facing a citation, suspension/revocation, or another form of professional discipline, it is imperative that you act quickly to defend your license and your livelihood.
Even relatively minor disciplinary actions by the California Board of Vocational Nursing create a public record viewable by potential clients and employers. And at worst, you could lose your license and see your career put on hold for several years.
At California License Attorney, we have the intricate knowledge of the Business and Professions Code, Nursing Practice Act, and other relevant laws and regulations affecting your license. And we have many years of experience in handling a wide variety of license defense case-types. We will know how to build you a solid defense and win your case.
To learn more or to avail yourself of a free, no-obligation consultation, contact us anytime 24/7 by calling 888-959-0068.
The Valuable Roles of Vocational Nurses
As a vocational nurse, you are responsible for patiently and compassionately rendering care to patients in a variety of settings. You are counted on to monitor the health of those in nursing homes and hospitals and who are receiving at-home care.
Duties vocational nurses typically perform include: monitoring chronic conditions, taking vital signs, recording patients' progress, operating intravenous machines, giving out various medicines and treatments, and caring for wounds.
The roles you fill are vital and represent a widespread, constant need. And the education and training you must obtain to even begin this "career of mercy" is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive.
Yet, even a single mistake or a single disgruntled patient who makes a false complaint can jeopardize your entire career. But you don't have to stand by and watch all you have worked so hard for evaporate. At California License Attorney, we have successfully defended numerous vocational nurses and helped them keep their licenses, and we can do the same for you.
The Important Services of Psychiatric Technicians
Psychiatric technicians are similar in role to vocational nurses in many ways, but they function in a different arena. They deal with those suffering from ailing mental or emotion health rather than physical ailments.
As a licensed psychiatric technician, you may work in a hospital setting or in a mental health clinic. You may be a part of a patient's rehab or overall treatment program. You may also deal with tasks somewhat beyond mental health, such as assisting patients with personal hygiene and administering injections.
You try your best to assist patients, but while you strive to be a compassionate caregiver, you are not super-human. Patients who are suicidal, for example, cannot be under your supervision 100% of the time. And while you believe in your methods, you cannot be expected to control patients' own decision-making process and "guarantee" results.
Thus, like vocational nurses, you too are an easy target for a lawsuit or complaint simply due to the nature of your work. Rest assured we at California License Attorney are skilled in defending against any and all accusations you may be facing.
The Mission of the California Board of Vocational Nursing & Psychiatric Technicians
The California Board of Vocational Nursing issues both vocational nursing and psychiatric technicians licenses, expecting applicants to meet exceptionally high standards. They also take in public complaints in written form and via their consumer affairs website and then follow up on those complaints (if deemed "substantiated") with an investigation.
If the board ultimately finds some form of misconduct has taken place, they will respond with various forms of professional discipline.
It is clear from this and from the board's stated mission that they exist not to assist vocational nurses and psychiatric technicians but to "protect the public." Their vision is to uphold very high standards within the industry and ensure safety and high quality of care to all patients.
That is certainly a noble cause, and one that most nurses would be in full sympathy with, but the board's very function can tend to make it too quick to believe every accusation that comes its way, in the interests of "playing it safe." Whereas, there are many false accusations and misunderstandings that arise along with valid complaints, and even valid complaints can be exaggerated out of proportion.
Here are some of the most common complaints filed against vocational nurses/psychiatric technicians that can potentially lead to board disciplinary action:
- Substance abuse, use of a controlled substance, and other drug-related offenses.
- Having any misdemeanor or felony conviction on your record that is "substantially" related to your duties or qualifications.
- Unprofessional conduct.
- Departures from the standard of care.
- Gross negligence, ordinary negligence, or incompetence.
- Violating your terms of license probation from an earlier violation.
- Fraudulent or dishonest actions related to your work.
- Sexual or physical abuse of patients.
- Being under discipline by another state agency or by a license-issuing agency of another U.S. state.
Possible disciplinary actions of the board include:
- Revocation of your license. This is the harshest possible punishment. It is usually reserved for the most serious offenses, but it is always a possibility. And if you ignore the board and do not file a notice of defense, you will likely see your license revoked.
- Suspension of license. This suspends your right to continue your practice for a specified period of time.
- Citation and fine. This is a lesser form of discipline, but it still goes on your record and is well worth fighting.
- Public reprimand. This is a publicly posted reprimand (but without fine) that could affect your ability to gain new patients/employers.
- Stay of revocation with probation. License probation allows you to continue your practice (sometimes after a short suspension period) so long as you abide by specific probation conditions.
It is also possible to reach a stipulated settlement that allows you to keep your license as long as you cease certain activities and perform certain requirements. Sometimes, the board will ask you to voluntarily surrender your license, but never agree to this or to appearing for a non-required "review hearing" at the board's request without first speaking to an experienced license defense lawyer.
The Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians' Disciplinary Guidelines & Uniform Standards Related to Substance Abuse lay down the general pattern for the administrative law judge (ALJ) overseeing your administrative hearing (if you have one) to follow. They give direction in when revocation, suspension, probation, or another form of discipline is appropriate. Factors the ALJ is to consider in making this determination include:
- The nature and severity of the violation.
- Whether any actual harm befell a patient as a result of the violation.
- What harm might have occurred.
- Any past violations on your disciplinary record.
- Any substantially relevant criminal convictions.
- Whether you face a single or multiple current violations.
- If you face multiple current complaints, whether or not they are all of the same/similar type.
- Any aggravating or mitigating factors.
- Evidence of rehabilitation.
- How likely it is you would repeat the violation if allowed to continue your practice.
- Whether or not you cooperated with the board during the investigation.
The ALJ can only form a "Proposed Decision," while the board must review it and issue the "Final Decision." The judge can allow departures from the disciplinary guidelines up to a point if he/she explains and justifies them to the board in writing. But with regard to substance abuse, there are uniform standards that cannot be departed from, although additional elements may or may not be added to these uniform standards. Any time drug or alcohol use is involved in a violation, substance abuse is presumed. This presumption can be rebutted, however, by presenting appropriate evidence.
From Complaint to Decision: The Process
Once a complaint is registered with the board, the board will prioritize complaints based on severity. Then they will determine which complaints to throw out due to be "unsubstantiated." Many complaints die without an investigation really ever getting underway.
The next phase would be to begin a formal investigation into "substantiated" complaints and issue you a notice of investigation. This is the time to call us for help. The earlier you act in the process, the better the chances of a favorable outcome. Be wary of speaking to investigators or the board alone. First speak with us, and we will speak to them, or at least give you advice to ensure you don't incriminate yourself or limit your defense possibilities.
If you are issued an interim suspension, preventing you from practicing during the investigation, we will work on fighting that first. An investigation could take months to years, and you can't afford to wait all that time to hear the final decision.
We may be able to negotiate a settlement or gain a dismissal before any formal accusation or hearing takes place. But otherwise, the next step is the board's issuing a formal accusation with a statement of issues. We the have the opportunity of responding to each issue against you at that point. If things still can't be resolved, then it moves on to the administrative hearing.
At the hearing, we will present exculpatory and mitigating evidence in your favor, produce witnesses in your behalf, challenge the evidence and testimony of the prosecution, and use every legal means to defeat or at least lessen in severity the proposed disciplinary action.
If you gain probation, we can negotiate to shorten the probation term and make the probation conditions less stringent. If substance abuse is determined to have taken place, we can help you get enrolled in a Nurse Diversion Program to ultimately save your license. However, failure to pass the Diversion Program could have serious repercussions, so we will make sure you are fully informed before deciding if you want to enroll in it.
In every instance, we fight first and foremost for a dismissal of the charges, but stand ready to negotiate for the most favorable outcome possible when necessary.
License Denial and License Reinstatement
If you have applied for a vocational nursing or psychiatric technician license but have been denied your request by the board, we can help. We can help you appeal the denial of your application and work to satisfy all board requirements to ultimately pass. You may need to take the NCLEX exam, gather additional paperwork, complete some rehab or educational requirements, or clear up issues concerning past criminal convictions/arrests.
If you have already had your license revoked for a past violation, we can help you petition to have it reinstated after the required wait period. This must include an admission of responsibility for the violation leading to the revocation and evidence of rehabilitation and that you can now safely and competently fill the role of a vocational nurse or psychiatric technician. We can guide you through the process and maximize your chances of reinstatement.
For appealing a license denial or for arguing for a license reinstatement, a special hearing may be appointed. We can represent you effectively at that hearing.
Contact Us Today for Assistance
At California License Attorney, we are always here to help when you are facing a board investigation or a formal accusation against you vocational nursing or psychiatric technician's license.
No matter where you are currently in the process or what kind of complaint has been filed against you, we have the experience necessary to maximize your chances of a favorable final outcome.
Call us anytime 24/7/365 at 888-959-0068, and we will give you a free consultation on the details of your case and can immediately begin building you a solid defense.