A Letter of Public Reprimand from the BRN or Board of Registered Nursing is a fantastic result, and one that is getting more difficult to achieve. If you are faced with an Accusation against your RN license, there are only a few options available to you: 1.) the case gets dropped (this occurs in 18 out of 6000 cases, no that’s not a typo.) 2.) you get a Public Reprimand 3.) you get probation 4.) you get your license revoked.
The letter of public reprimand is actually exactly what it sounds like. As a form of discipline, the BRN issues a letter that is attached to your RN license and available via the BRN’s Breeze system. This letter will say something like:
Nurse Jackie is hereby publicly reprimanded for violating the Nurse Practice Act by failing to have a witness while wasting medication on November 4, 17 and 23rd on 2013. However, based upon sufficient mitigating evidence, Jackie has shown that she is not a public threat.
That’s it, folks. That is the Public Reprimand.
CAN I PRACTICE NURSING WITH A LETTER OF PUBLIC REPRIMAND?
There are no restrictions that come along with a Letter of Public Reprimand. That occurs only if you are placed on probation so, you will able to continue to practice as a nurse in whatever capacity you were before. This is why public reprimands are so critical for some nurses to get. If you are a DON, or otherwise supervise nurses at all as part of your current job, you will not be able to keep your job on probation because that is one of the restrictions. If you are an instructor or faculty member, probation isn’t an option because you can’t teach. If you live out of state and cannot comply with the residency requirement or work requirement of probation, a public reprimand will be critical. Your RN license is not restricted or subjected to any additional requirements if you’ve been issued a Public Reprimand as discipline.
HOW DO I GET A LETTER OF PUBLIC REPRIMAND?
A few years ago, the BRN was issuing Letters of Public Reprimand as an option during stipulated settlements. This is where your attorney negotiates directly with the BRN’s attorney to reach an agreement and then the BRN’s attorney presents the offer to the Board and they adopt it. This is no longer the case, and has not been for a number of years. At this point, the only way to get a Letter of Public Reprimand is by taking the case to a BRN Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge and convincing the Judge that a Letter of Public Reprimand is appropriate. This is not difficult for our attorneys to do, in fact, very often we are able to get Letters of Public Reprimand as the recommended discipline from the Judge. The problem is that the BRN sometimes doesn’t agree with the judge, and because in Administrative law, the judge’s “decision” is only advisory, the BRN can overturn it and impose whatever discipline they deem necessary.
So, the only way to get a Letter of Public Reprimand anymore is by going to a BRN Hearing and then getting the BRN to agree with the Judge. This can be done, it is simply harder to do than it once was.
HOW LONG DOES THE PUBLIC REPRIMAND LAST?
The letter gets attached to your license and is available on the Breeze system for 3 years. However, and this is important… you must pay the fines in full before the 3 year clock starts ticking. If you elect a payment plan, the Letter of Public Reprimand remains for 3 years following payment of the fine, so if you take 2 years to pay, the public reprimand will be there for 5 years.
CAN I GET THE LETTER OF PUBLIC REPRIMAND REMOVED?
No. The only way that the public reprimand will be removed from your RN license on the website, is once the 3 years has passed. There is no other way to have it removed. There isn’t even a process that exists in order to attempt to have it removed. You are stuck with it for 3 years.
LETTER OF PUBLIC REPRIMAND AS A LESSER FORM OF BRN DISCIPLINE
The Letter of Public Reprimand is the least amount of formal discipline the BRN can impose, following an accusation against your RN license. They are given in cases where the error has been minimal, or the underlying conviction minor. Examples of criminal cases our attorneys have been successful in getting Letters of Public Reprimand for our clients are: low BAC DUIs or Wet and Reckless Convictions, driving under the influence of prescription medication, Disturbing the Peace or Drunk in Public convictions, and domestic violence arrests. Workplace issues that have resulted in a Letter of Public Reprimand are a few charting errors, failure to get a witness wasting a med, giving medication on an expired order, and minor patient care issues.
If you are a registered nurse and have recently been served with an Accusation against your RN license, know that a Letter of Public Reprimand is an option for you, but also know that it might not be a realistic option. Please give me a call and I will listen to the details of your specific case and help you determine if a Letter of Public Reprimand is a possibility for you and to determine if it is worth the expense of going to Hearing to get it.