Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Nursing Board Served Twelve Accusations Against Out-Of-State Nurses - Up To 2,000 California Nurses Expected To Be Be Disciplined In The Future

The California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) announced recently that it served 12 accusations against out-of-state licensees as a result of a data comparison with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing’s Nursys® license verification database. The purpose of this data comparison was for the BRN to find out if licensed nurses in California had been disciplined in other states. In some cases, licensees failed to disclose the discipline in the other state. 

After a series of scathing articles in the Los Angeles Times, the BRN submitted its entire population of more than 375,000 licensees to see if any had had action taken against their licenses in other states. This process was started in late February 2010. About 3,500 records were returned, and BRN officials estimate as many as 2,000 of them will require action against their California licenses. For each, this will involve the filing of an accusation, which is an administrative document outlining the reasons BRN is seeking to take against a license.

The BRN is not contacting nurses prior to the filing of the Accusations and seeking to discuss the out-of-state discipline first. An Accusation will be the first notice the licensed nurses get of an investigation or a complaint in California. The nurses will simply receive an Accusation by mail.

The charge in the Accusation will be for unprofessional conduct, which, under California law, includes having action taken against their license by another state or government agency. The causes for discipline in other states included, among other things, sex offense convictions, fraudulent prescriptions, incompetence, and gross negligence.

If you receive an Accusation, it can be very intimidating and stressful in part because when you read the last page it will indicate that the BRN seeks to revoke the license. This in and of itself should not intimidate the nurse since it is standard language in every Accusation. It allows the BRN jurisdiction to revoke the license if the facts merit it.

It is possible for the nurse to save his or her license. It will take a proactive approach, the filing of a mitigation package and a demonstration of why the discipline was not previously reported.  Hiring an experienced administrative law attorney can be very useful since it is difficult for the nurse to handle the legal parts of this process without assistance.

Given that this process has just begun, more Accusations are expected to be filed. Although many of these Accusations could be resolved with settlement agreements saving money and time, the BRN is working hard to show that it is reducing the amount of time it takes to discipline a licensee. Thus, Accusations will be filed and most of these cases will settle. These nurses have already been disciplined in the other state and the only misconduct in California was the discipline in the other state.  It is being punished twice for the same offense.   One issue that may be important is whether the nurse made any misrepresentations to the BRN when renewing the license.

If you have been disciplined in another state and are no longer practicing in California, you may want to take a proactive approach in researching what you should do with your California license so you are not also disciplined in California.

Each case is different and any nurse affected by Accusations resulting from the Verification Database needs to  evaluate his or her position and goals in maintaining a California license and whether a California license is needed for their present or future work.  Our firm works hard to personalize each individual licensee before the Board and present a detailed mitigation package in order to obtain the best result possible without going to hearing. If a hearing is needed, then thorough preparation, retention of experts and hard work and expertise is required in order to obtain the best possible result.

Posted by Tracy Green, Esq. Please email Ms. Green at tgreen@greenassoc.com or call her at 213-233-2260 to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation.  

Any questions or comments  should be directed to Tracy Green, a very experienced California health care attorneyLos Angeles Nursing Board attorney, and Los Angeles administrative law attorney at tgreen@greenassoc.com.

The firm focuses its practice on the representation of licensed professionals, individuals and businesses in civil, business, administrative and criminal proceedings. They have a specialty in representing licensed health care providers and in administrative board and discipline matters in California and throughout the country. Their website is: http://www.greenassoc.com/


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