Being a nurse is a good career choice, but with significant responsibilities comes the potential of severe consequences if regulations are breached, or standards are not met. While most nurses abide by their professional ethics and maintain high standards in practice, some might find themselves in situations that could risk their licenses and careers.
This blog post explores some main reasons nurses might lose their nursing license–from negligence to criminal conviction. We also suggest steps to protect your licensure, keep it up-to-date, and provide resources for those needing additional help maintaining an active license.
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What is the Importance of Licensing in Nursing?
Nurse licensure is how regulatory authorities, such as Boards of Nursing, regulate nursing practice within their jurisdiction. The primary purpose of such licensure is to permit individuals to work as nurses after verifying that they have attained the minimum competency requirements for carrying out nursing activities safely within their scope of practice.
A license is necessary when dealing with complex tasks requiring specialized knowledge, skill, and independent decision-making.
Nurse licensure also provides the following:
1). Legal authority to perform nursing activities only by individuals who have obtained a license from the regulatory body.
2). Title protection, so only those with licenses can use specific titles, like registered nurse or advanced practice registered nurse.
3). The ability of the regulatory body to take disciplinary action if the licensee is found violating any laws or rules set by them.
A registry of all licensed nurses in an area, hence the term “Registered Nurse.”
- The first nurse licensure and registration program started in 1901 in New Zealand when the Nurses Registration Act was passed into law.
- In the United States, applicants must pass the NCLEX exam before being given a license. This began in 1903.
15 Most Common Reason Nurses Have Their License Suspended
Nurses are held to a high standard of professional performance, and any lapse in skill or accuracy can lead to losing their license.
Additionally, violation of state or federal rules and regulations, negligence causing injury or death, gross misconduct, or intentional acts of harm can all be grounds for disciplinary action.
If you have been accused or convicted of such offenses, you must speak with an attorney immediately about your options.
1. Being Convicted of a Felony or Misdemeanor
A nurse’s license can be in jeopardy if convicted of a felony or misdemeanor crime. A criminal conviction could cause the board to take disciplinary action against their license. If convicted, nurses may have to surrender their license until an investigation is complete and any penalties are determined.
2. Impaired Professional Performance
The board will also take disciplinary action if they find evidence to suggest that a nurse is impaired in their professional performance. This includes if a nurse fails to provide competent, quality care or participates in inappropriate behavior while on the job. A medical defense lawyer can help protect your license and ensure that you receive minimal penalties for any mistakes made. Nurses must be aware of all state and federal regulations related to their practice to avoid losing licenses.
- Alcohol or drug use
- Neglect of duty
- Psychological problems
- Extreme exhaustion
3. Violation of Nursing Rules and Regulations
Nurses must also be aware of the rules and regulations governing their practice. If nurses fail to adhere to these standards, they may face disciplinary action from the board. This includes failure to follow proper protocols or violating patient privacy laws. This includes:
- Dangerous drugs or alcohol consumption during work hours
- Delegating nursing tasks to unlicensed individuals
- Patient abuse and neglect
- Failing to report a colleague’s misconduct
Disciplinary boards treat rule violations with utmost seriousness, regardless of whether the nurse intended to break the rule. If you are facing accusations of violating a law, it is advisable to retain the services of a nursing license defense attorney. A medical defense lawyer can assist you in maintaining your license and avoiding a conviction on your record.
4. Negligence Causing Injury or Death
If a nurse is found to be negligent in their patient care, this can lead to losing their license. Negligence may include
- Failure to diagnose an illness or provide proper treatment causes an injury or death.
- Any breach of the standard of care is considered negligence
- Not recording crucial information on patients’ charts,
- Failure to evaluate a patient’s condition on time,
- Medication administration errors, and
- Misusing, damaging, or losing documentation.
If you are accused of negligence, it would be advisable to seek the advice of a Nursing License Defense Attorney or other qualified professionals who can review your case details and provide guidance.
An experienced medical defense attorney can help fight these allegations and minimize any penalties you may face.
5. Gross Misconduct or Intentional Acts of Harm
The most severe form of disciplinary action is when the board finds evidence that a nurse was involved in intentional acts of harm, such as sexual assault or fraud. In these cases, the board may take immediate action against the license. It is essential to contact an attorney right away if you have been accused of any intentional act of harm. A lawyer can help protect your license and minimize any penalties you may face.
6. Intentional Acts of Harm
The board will take disciplinary action if nurses are found to have acted in an intentional and harmful manner. This includes sexual abuse, fraud, or any other criminal activity while on the job. The board typically takes a severe stance against intentional harm and may take immediate action against the nurse’s license. Nurses need to seek legal advice as soon as possible if they are facing accusations of this type of misconduct. An attorney can help protect your license and minimize any penalties you may face.
No matter the reason for disciplinary proceedings, nurses must know their rights and understand what options are available to them. A medical defense lawyer can provide expertise in protecting your license and work with you to ensure your case is presented in the best light.
Having a good lawyer by your side during these proceedings can be invaluable and help ensure you receive minimal penalties for any mistakes made.
7. Professional Misconduct
Professional misconduct is a serious offense that can have long-term ramifications for nurses, including losing their license. Understanding the board’s regulations and obtaining legal advice, if necessary, to protect your career and reputation is essential.
If a licensed nursing professional fails to meet the expected practice standards, it is considered professional misconduct, which is a broad term that covers various acts such as:
- Failure to obtain patient consent or keep records
- Misappropriating client or workplace property,
- Physical, emotional, or verbal abuse.
8. Patient Confidentiality Breach
Maintaining patient confidentiality is one of the most essential duties of a nurse. Any breach of this duty could land you in hot water with the board. A violation can include:
- Anything from disclosing confidential information to a third party.
- Accessing records without permission.
- Using private data for financial gain.
Nurses must understand their responsibilities when protecting sensitive information and take appropriate measures to ensure compliance with regulations. If a breach occurs, it is essential to contact an attorney immediately to protect your license and career. An experienced medical defense lawyer can help minimize any penalties that you may face and work with you throughout the process.
9. Violation of Rules & Regulations
A licensed nursing professional must adhere to all the rules and regulations the state board sets. This includes:
- HIPAA or other privacy violations
- Maintaining licensure
- Violating employer policy
- completing required continuing education units.
- Offending or insulting colleagues or employer
- Bullying or threatening someone
- Posting or sharing lewd photos or graphics
If a nurse is found in violation of any of these rules and regulations, they may face disciplinary action from the board. Nurses must stay up-to-date with their obligations, as failure to comply can lead to severe consequences. An attorney can review your case details and guide how best to handle any accusations against you. They can also work on your behalf to minimize penalties that you may face for any violations.
10. Failure to Pay Child Support
Failure to pay court-ordered child support can lead to disciplinary action by the board. Nurses should take proactive measures to ensure that payments are up-to-date to avoid potential penalties from the state board. Legal advice is also essential to protect your license and career if you need to catch up on child support payments. An experienced medical defense attorney can work with you to develop a payment plan and negotiate a resolution with the state board.
11. Failure to Pay Taxes, Student Loans, or Other debts.
Nurses are expected to maintain financial responsibility for any debts they have incurred. Failure to pay taxes, student loans, or other obligations can lead to disciplinary action by the board. Legal advice is essential if you find yourself in this situation, as a medical defense attorney can guide how best to proceed and avoid more severe penalties from the state board. They can also help negotiate a resolution with creditors on your behalf so that you remain compliant with all regulations and protect your license and career.
12. Criminal Activity
The board takes Criminal activity very seriously, and any conviction of a felony or misdemeanor can result in disciplinary action. Nurses should be aware of their legal obligations at all times, and if they are charged with a crime, they must contact an attorney immediately. An experienced medical defense lawyer can provide advice on how to handle the situation and represent you throughout the process. They can also work with the state board to minimize any penalties you may face due to criminal activity.
13. Inappropriate Use of Social Media
Even if you use your device at home, the Nursing Board takes any inappropriate activity on social media seriously. Nurses should exercise caution when posting content online and avoid anything unprofessional or offensive. Violating these rules can lead to disciplinary action from the board, so it is essential to seek legal advice if you find yourself facing misconduct accusations. An attorney can review your case details and guide how best to handle the situation to protect your license and career.
14. Professionalism Issues
Professionalism is a top priority for nurses as they are always expected to maintain high standards. This includes: behaving respectfully toward colleagues, treating patients with dignity and respect, adhering to dress code policies, and avoiding inappropriate behavior on the job. Nurses should be aware that any misconduct can lead to disciplinary action from the board, so it is essential to seek legal advice if you face accusations of unprofessional behavior. An experienced medical defense attorney can work with you to develop a plan of action and protect your license and career.
15. Failure to Maintain Continuing Education Requirements
Nurses must meet specific continuing education requirements to comply with state boards’ regulations. Nurses must stay up-to-date on their coursework and certifications to avoid any potential penalties or disciplinary action from the board. If you need to catch up on these requirements, an experienced medical defense lawyer can guide how best to proceed.
How Many Nurses Lose their Licenses Each Year?
It’s a question no nurse wants to answer, as losing a license would mean having to switch careers or take drastic action. The nursing license suspension rate is estimated at around 1%, which may not seem like much – but with 5,355,450 nurses in the US per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that equates to 53,554 individuals annually.
That means nearly 50,000 more people face this issue each year – so it’s likely that you or someone you know has been through it or felt concerned about the possibility. Knowing what defense options are available is essential for any nurse facing disciplinary action to protect their career and avoid such an outcome.
Stories of Nurses Losing Their License
Nursing is a profession with high standards of practice and ethics, and when those standards are not met, nurses can lose their licenses. There have been numerous stories of nurses losing their permits for various reasons, such as failing to meet continuing education requirements, committing medical errors, or engaging in unethical behavior.
It is important to note that a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree cannot guarantee that a nurse will retain their license. Still, it can provide additional education and training to help nurses meet the rigorous standards of the profession. A BSN degree emphasizes critical thinking, leadership, and nursing research that can help avoid license revocation.
Ultimately, it is the responsibility of every nurse to stay current with the standards of practice and to adhere to the ethical principles of the nursing profession. Visit this post to read: Stories of Nurses Losing Their License – Reality Behind Nightmare
losing a nursing license can be stressful and difficult for nurses, especially amid their other day-to-day responsibilities. Fortunately, with the help of experienced legal counsel, seeking a resolution and protecting your career is possible. Remember that having an attorney on your side can make all the difference when working with state boards and resolving potential issues.
Seeking legal advice as soon as possible will give you the best chance of presenting yourself in a favorable light and protecting your license from suspension or revocation. With the proper guidance, you can ensure that your career remains intact and continue providing quality care to those who need it most.
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Mrs. Marie Brown has been a registered nurse for over 25 years. She began her nursing career at a Level I Trauma Center in downtown Chicago, Illinois. There she worked in the Emergency Department and on the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. After several years, she moved to the Midwest and continued her nursing career in a critical care setting. For the last 10 years of her nursing career, Mrs. Brown worked as a flight nurse with an air ambulance service. During this time, she cared for patients throughout the United States.