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As a nurse, you may need to understand the enforcement program

You have a difficult job. As a registered nurse, you more than likely attend to the needs of numerous patients each shift. You do your best to ensure that you provide each patient with the best possible care, but that may not always happen.

It's impossible to make everyone happy all of the time, and sooner or later, a patient may file a complaint against you. Here in California, that complaint would go to the Board of Registered Nursing's Enforcement Program.

Complaints

The enforcement program accepts complaints. If a patient or fellow medical professional believes that you have violated some part of the Nursing Practice Act or otherwise failed in your professional responsibilities, that individual may file a complaint against you. Most often, nurses are accused of the following actions:

  • Failure to meet the standard of care
  • Medication mistakes
  • Patient abuse
  • Criminal activity or convictions
  • Sexual misconduct
  • License application fraud

If someone suspects you of having a mental illness or a chemical dependency issue, those complaints may go to a confidential rehabilitation program (the BRN's Intervention Program). If the complaint does not provide enough information or evidence to render a decision, an investigation may ensue.

Investigation results

If the investigation reveals the possibility of criminal activity, investigators may forward the information gathered to the appropriate district attorney's office. A minor infraction could result in a citation and a fine. However, if investigators recommend disciplinary action, the Attorney General's Office reviews your case.

Disciplinary process

If the Attorney General's Office believes sufficient evidence against you exists, you will receive a list of charges called an accusation. An administrative hearing provides you with the opportunity to dispute the charges. You may need to know that this hearing is actually closer to a trial than a simple hearing. The administrative law judge renders an opinion after the hearing that goes to the nine-member board. The members make the final decision regarding any disciplinary action against you.

In the alternative, it may be in your best interests to come to an agreement with the BRN. You may need to accept some type of disciplinary action and admit to some type of charges.

Possible results

Your license may be suspended or revoked depending on the charges. The board may place you on probation during which BRN staff monitor you to ensure you meet all of the probation requirements. At the successful completion of your probationary period, you get your license back with no limitations or restrictions. Of course, these outcomes assume that you don't secure a dismissal of the complaint or charges.

Your license is your livelihood. The future of your nursing career may be on the line. It would be in your best interests to challenge any alleged violations whether they be complaints or charges. Before doing so, you may need to gain an understanding of your rights and available options for the best outcome possible.

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Law Office of Zachary D. Wechsler

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Torrance, CA 90503

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