Are you a registered nurse in North Carolina, and are you worried about maintaining your nursing license? Whether someone has filed a complaint about you to the North Carolina Board of Nursing or you have been charged with a crime outside of work, you need to do what you can to protect your license and your livelihood. The best way to do that is to hire an experienced North Carolina professional license defense attorney.
At Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys, we offer both aggressive criminal defense and nursing license defense representation. We can defend you in North Carolina’s criminal courts as well as during any North Carolina Board of Nursing investigation. When a criminal matter or a filed complaint can impact your nursing license, it is essential that you have an attorney who can work on both matters confidently.
To learn more about your rights when facing a North Carolina Board of Nursing investigation or criminal charges, call our lawyers for nurses at (980) 237-4579 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Common Causes of North Carolina Board of Nursing Disciplinary Actions
If you are a registered nurse in Mecklenburg County or North Carolina, there are many laws and regulations you must follow. These begin with obtaining the required education, training, and licensing. Given the many regulations and laws you must adhere to, there are also many possible reasons for a disciplinary investigation or sanctions.
- HIPAA Violations: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is essential in protecting patient privacy. If you are accused of violating HIPAA by breaching patient confidentiality, then you need to call a Charlotte nursing license defense attorney immediately.
- Stealing Drugs: Being falsely accused of stealing drugs from work can be a nightmare. The accusations make you look like a thief and possibly an addict, both of which are conduct that can lead to a nursing license suspension or revocation. You need a Charlotte nurse attorney to defend you right away.
- Diverting Drugs: Drug diversion involves the transfer of a legally prescribed medication to another person, who is not the intended recipient, for an unlawful purpose. This may include wasting controlled substances properly and failing to properly record them within the hospital’s Pyxis system. Drug diversion in the nursing profession is often related to addiction and substance abuse. If you are accused of diverting drugs, call us immediately. Even if an offense is not proven, you may be fired for suspicion of diversion.
- Positive Random Drug Screens – Your employer may utilize random drug screenings of employees in an attempt to maintain quality of care. If you failed or refused a random drug screen, you may face termination or investigation by the North Carolina Board of Nursing. A nursing license attorney can help you face this situation.
- Alcohol Abuse: If the North Carolina Board of Nursing has any information that you are abusing alcohol or that you have worked with patients while intoxicated, you will face an investigation.
- Felony Offenses: Your professional license could be on the line if you are convicted or even accused of a felony crime.
- Fraudulent Procurement of a Nursing License: Our North Carolina nursing license defense attorneys have represented many professionals accused of fraudulently obtaining their licenses or fraudulently helping another person obtain a nursing license.
- Inappropriate Relationships with Patients: Allegations of inappropriate romantic or sexual relationships with a patient will lead to an investigation. Your best chance of defending yourself is by hiring a lawyer for nurses.
- Medication Errors: Making medication and other medical errors can have serious consequences for the patient. One explainable error may not lead to a board investigation. However, repeated errors arising from carelessness or willful misconduct can lead to a license suspension or revocation.
- Abuse or Neglect: Any evidence that you have abused or neglected a patient can lead to the loss of your professional license and criminal charges. Our lawyers for nurses can defend you against both professional disciplinary actions and criminal charges.
- Willful and Repeated Unethical or Unprofessional Conduct: Any type of intentional conduct that is considered unprofessional or unethical under North Carolina Nurse Practice Act can lead to an investigation and sanctions.
Diverting Drugs Improperly Can Lead to Serious Consequences
A common issue facing nurses who are facing termination from employment or investigation by the North Carolina Board of Nursing is improper drug diversion. This can involve many different actions, but all of them involve failing to properly handle prescription medications.
Proper handling of drugs involves strict procedures from prescription to distribution. If you take any action, even accidental, that does not comply with those procedures, you may be accused of diverting drugs. Improper situations may include:
- Stealing drugs
- Failure to properly waste drugs
- Failure to properly document drugs
- Misuse of drugs
Although some of these actions are intentional, you may mistakenly document drugs improperly. This can still lead to an investigation. When you’re facing an investigation at work or by the North Carolina Board of Nursing, you should always work with a nursing license defense attorney.
The Disciplinary Process
For nurses in North Carolina, the disciplinary process often starts unexpectedly at work one day. You may have been accused of a violation and sent home. Your employer may have suspended you without pay or immediately fired you. In either case, the next step is for your employer to inform the North Carolina Board of Nursing. Another way disciplinary actions begin are by patients, family members, colleagues, or members of the public directly filing a complaint with the board.
Once the board receives a complaint, it first determines whether the merits of the allegation are sufficient to open an investigation. If it does, then it assigns the complaint to an investigator. This person collects facts to determine if the alleged violation occurred and whether you, as a licensed nurse, pose a threat to patients or the public.
A nurse who is under investigation may be notified by the board over the phone or through the mail. If you are a traveling nurse, you do not have the same rights in regard to investigations conducted by the North Carolina Board of Nursing, which means you may have fewer options. If you are a traveling nurse working in Charlotte or throughout North Carolina, and you learn there is a complaint against you, call our nursing license defense attorneys immediately.
Depending on the outcome of an investigation, the board’s response may be to:
- Take no action
- Send a letter of concern with a non-disciplinary warning
- Offer a non-disciplinary consent order (NDCO), which would place some restrictions on your practice
- Offer a published consent order (PCO), which is a public discipline involving a reprimand, monitoring, probation, or license suspension or revocation
You always have the right to an attorney during this time. By hiring a lawyer, you can work with the board to clear up any misunderstandings or offer mitigating circumstances for the violation. Through a settlement conference, your attorney may be able to resolve the issue without you losing your license.
By working with an attorney, you can negotiate with the investigators to achieve a positive outcome. This may involve seeking alternatives to traditional disciplines, such as treatment programs. You may begin seeking such a program at the beginning of an investigation in order to avoid a full investigation. In order to use an alternative treatment program, you will have to qualify for it and convince the investigator that it is the best option. A skilled nursing license defense attorney can best do this.
Can You Lose Your Nursing License for a Misdemeanor?
We receive many calls from nurses who are facing misdemeanor charges or have been recently convicted of misdemeanor crimes in Charlotte. They, understandably, want to know what will happen to their professional licenses. We tell them that it depends on the specific circumstances.
Your nursing license will not be suspended automatically for a misdemeanor conviction. However, this is a risk you need to address carefully, and preferably with the help of a nursing license defense attorney.
The first step we will take is to determine if the board requires you to report your conviction. If it does, we will ensure you properly report the offense to comply with your professional regulations. If the board believes the offense is in relation to your work, then it may begin formal proceedings to sanction you. We will be ready to file your notice of defense and to defend you against sanctions. Depending on the situation, we may fight for you to walk away without a disciplinary action, or we may strive to mitigate the consequences of sanctions. For instance, we may strive for you to receive probation instead of a suspension.
Can I Lose My Nursing License for a DWI?
A registered nurse’s DWI can have serious consequences in the state of North Carolina. Being charged with or convicted of a DWI does not mean you will lose your professional license, but like with other misdemeanor offenses, you have to address the situation properly. With the help of a nursing license defense attorney, you can report your DWI to the board and prepare to defend yourself against sanctions. In many cases, you may have to abide by terms of probation for a period of time. However, if the DWI related to your work in some way, you may have to vigorously defend against a suspension.
The best way to avoid losing your nursing license because of a misdemeanor or DWI is to avoid a criminal conviction entirely. By calling Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys, you gain an attorney who is highly experienced as both a DWI lawyer and a professional license defense attorney.
My Nursing License Is Revoked, Now What?
Can a revoked nursing license be reinstated? That is a question we hear often. The answer is that it depends on the circumstances. It is possible to have your license reinstated following a revocation. However, this right is not automatic. You will need to apply for reinstatement, and the board will review your circumstances to determine if you are fit to practice.
You must also follow other reinstatement requirements, such as providing a fee, going through a background check, completing a board-approved refresher course, and meeting the continuing competency requirements.