If you’ve received an Accusation against your RN license from the Board of Registered Nursing in California, Arizona, or Texas, there are a few things you must know, the most important being that you very likely won’t have your nursing license revoked or suspended, despite what it says.
WHAT DOES THE ACCUSATION MEAN?
An Accusation against your RN license means that the BRN, AZBN, or BON and its attorneys have proven by the standard of clear and convincing evidence that you have violated the Nurse Practice Act to a degree that keeps you practicing safely as a nurse. What a blow to the ego, right? You may have been a nurse with an impeccable, flawless record for 10 years, and now this?
Most nurses that I talk to who’ve had an Accusation filed against their RN license say the same things:
- The Accusation makes it sound so much worse than it actually was!
- There are parts of the Accusation that aren’t even accurate!
- WHAT?!?!? This is a public record for everyone to see?!?!?!
It is the deputy attorney generals’ (DAG) job to build a case against you, so they are going to add in every dirty detail they can possibly find, tack on a few skeletons they’ve managed to drag out of your closet and make you sound like the worst nurse ever. This is typical. If the Accusation didn’t paint you in a negative light, the DAG didn’t do a very good job filing the Accusation.
Often, there are parts of the Accusation that are not accurate. Dates may be off; there may be details included that are not precise. This is important to address because once you sign off on any form of discipline, this Accusation against your RN license is going to be a public record indefinitely and you will not ever be able to go back and change it.
Yes, unfortunately, the Accusation is now available on the BRN’s website, attached to your RN license, for everyone to see. The only way it will ever be removed completely is if the case is dropped. If you receive a letter of public reprimand, it remains for 3 years and stays for 10 if you receive probation.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE AN ACCUSATION AGAINST MY RN LICENSE?
The most critical component of the Accusation is the document called the Notice of Defense. Without that little piece of paper being filed within the short 14-day window, your RN license will be revoked on a default order. Let me rephrase that: if you don’t get the Notice of Defense in on time, your RN license gets revoked. The Notice of Defense notifies the BRN that you wish to DEFEND yourself against the Accusation. It means that you don’t agree with the proposed discipline listed in the Prayer and you want to try to get a better deal.
The next important part of the Accusation against your RN license is the Discovery section. This section is convoluted in its time frames and language, but it essentially means that you only have a certain amount of time to request the information that the BRN has on you and to give the BRN the information you wish to present in your defense. Missing the Discovery deadlines may mean that you may never have all the facts in the case against you, you will never know who is going to be testifying against you, and worse, you may not be able to submit your own evidence or your own witnesses.
Whatever you do, if you have an Accusation against your RN license, do not miss the Notice of Defense and Discovery deadlines!
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A HEARING AND A SETTLEMENT?
Halfway down the page of the Notice of Defense is a section where you choose a Hearing or to be considered for a Stipulated Settlement. If you elect a Hearing, it will be set out months away, typically 6 or more. If you request a stipulated settlement, you can begin negotiations right away. At a Hearing, your case will be heard by an Administrative Law Judge and his decision will be submitted to the BRN for adoption. Stipulated Settlements are negotiations between you and the Deputy Attorney General directly, and the settlement offer will be submitted directly to the BRN for approval.
The benefit of Hearing is that you have an impartial party listening to all the facts of your case and then rendering an advisory decision to the BRN. The BRN must still approve and adopt the decision. You will often get a better result and lesser discipline by taking the matter to Hearing, although not always. The downside of the Hearing is that the BRN can overturn the Judge’s decision if they don’t feel it is adequate and it is far more expensive.
The benefit of a Stipulated Settlement is that the deal the DAG agrees to and submits to the BRN is almost always guaranteed to be adopted by the BRN. It also costs much less. The downside of the Stipulated Settlement is that the discipline imposed is almost always probation.
THE ACCUSATION SAYS MY NURSING LICENSE WILL BE REVOKED!
Get on with it Jennifer! The Accusation says my nursing license will be suspended or revoked… it says so right there in the Prayer on the last page!!! How can you say that it won’t be?
Well, I can say that your RN license won’t be revoked or suspended because we have defended thousands of nurses with Accusations against their RN licenses and only 2 of them have ever resulted in a revocation or suspension. 2….out of 1000s. If your Accusation was filed for a DUI or other alcohol or drug-related conviction, you will not lose your RN license. If the Accusation involves charting errors, medication discrepancies, or minor patient care issues, you will not lose your license. If your Accusation alleges diversion of medication, there is still a 99% chance that you will not lose your license!
It is true that nurses have their RN license revoked following an Accusation in over 40% of the BRN’s cases, based on the last report. As I said before, the Accusation “accuses” you and has established by clear and convincing evidence that you violated the Nurse Practice Act to such an extent that you are no longer safe to practice as a nurse. The recommended discipline for such a violation is revocation or suspension of your RN license. That 40% of nurses are losing their licenses for 4 reasons only:
- They didn’t file their Notice of Defense on time.
- They underestimated the seriousness of the Accusation and tried to handle the case on their own.
- They hired an attorney who didn’t know what they were doing.
- The violation was so egregious that revocation was appropriate.
3 out of 4 of those reasons can be totally avoided by hiring an attorney at the very beginning whose expertise is in saving RN licenses. Of the 60% of the nurses who are keeping their licenses, most of them could have reduced costs, disciplines, and fines by using an attorney. Don’t be one of those 40% nurses, be one of our 99% nurses! We have a 99% success rate in saving our client’s licenses, and THAT is why I said at the beginning that even though you have an Accusation against your RN license, it does not mean you will lose it.
Please give me a call or fill out the online submission form, and I will get right back to you. I will read over your Accusation (I can find it because it is public) and give you an upfront and honest opinion of exactly what you can expect in your specific case in our first consultation. It will probably end with “Your license is safe and you’re going to be just fine…”