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Are you in danger of losing your nursing license?

Most nurses figure they'll eventually lose the right to practice nursing because they'll retire and let their license lapse. They don't expect to have the nursing board take their license (and their ability to make a living) from them.

Yet, good nurses make mistakes all the time that could end up creating just that scenario. If you don't want to end up as one of the many nurses who lose their licenses to practice each year, keep the following in mind:

Untreated addiction will cost you your license faster than treatment

If you have a drug addiction or are alcoholic and you've put off treatment because you're afraid of losing your license, it's a big mistake. Giving into the temptation to swipe a few pills or showing up drunk for your shift will cost you your license much faster. If you're still concerned, consider talking to an attorney who handles cases related to maintaining professional licenses before you enter treatment.

Falsifying a patient's records is another common reason for lost licenses

Sometimes nurses forget to put something in a record and don't see any harm in going back and adding a note in to the chart -- but that's as bad, legally, as adding a note to cover a mistake or to make it look like something was done when it wasn't. Don't be tempted to do it on another person's order either -- whether it is your supervisor or the doctor in charge. It's better to get fired for refusal than get caught and lose your license altogether.

Unprofessional conduct is somewhat of a catch-all term

It may be hard to anticipate what would qualify. In general, using slurs or "joking" names for a patient (even one that is driving you crazy), mocking a patient's distress or giving out private information about a patient can really cost you. So can activities that are more private -- like having an affair with a married colleague. If you wouldn't be comfortable repeating your behavior and exact wording to the nursing board, it's generally advisable that you don't do it.

For more information, it's always smart to check with a supervisor, a colleague, the state board or an attorney for advice.

Source: Nursing Link, "10 Ways to Lose Your Nursing License," accessed Jan. 10, 2018

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