A nurse looking upset on a hospital bed because she has received an accusation from the BRN.

Accusations by the Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) can have significant consequences for nurses. It’s crucial to comprehensively understand the BRN, its role in regulating nursing professionals, and how they can accuse nurses. Read on to explore the initiation of accusations and complaints, the evidence required in BRN investigations, the investigative process of the BRN, and strategies for protecting yourself against unwarranted accusations.

How Accusations and Complaints Are Initiated

Many nurses are under the impression that a mistake is required for there to be an accusation from the BRN. The truth is allegations from the BRN can be initiated even without a mistake being made. While an accusation may result from an incident or error, it is essential to acknowledge that complaints can also come from misunderstandings, personal conflicts, or dissatisfaction with the care provided. Patients or their families might file a complaint due to perceived lapses in communication, differences in expectations, or dissatisfaction with outcomes. Colleagues or supervisors may raise concerns regarding professional conduct, competence, or adherence to ethical standards. 

An accusation from the BRN can come anytime from anywhere for many reasons. As a nurse, it is vital to be prepared for the possibility of an accusation, regardless of your commitment to providing safe and quality care. Recognizing the potential for allegations can help you protect yourself against future threats to your license. 

Understanding the Role of Complaints and Reporting Mechanisms

Complaints serve as a means for individuals to voice concerns regarding a nurse’s professional conduct or care provided. Complaints are typically made through designated reporting mechanisms, including online forms, hotlines, or written submissions. They can be levied against a nurse for various reasons, from unprofessional conduct to gross negligence. 

Complaints can also come from multiple sources, including patients, colleagues, supervisors, and even anonymous individuals. Patients may express dissatisfaction with their care or perceive a violation of their rights. Colleagues or supervisors may raise concerns about professional misconduct or breaches of ethical standards. It is essential to recognize the diverse sources from which complaints can arise and understand their potential motivations. Nurses can experience complaints from practically anyone, opening them up to possible scrutiny from a variety of sources.

Evidence in BRN Complaints: What’s Required?

The BRN bears the burden of proof in nurse accusations, requiring evidence to support their claims. It is not the nurse’s responsibility to prove their innocence, but rather the BRN’s responsibility to prove their guilt. The BRN must accumulate substantial evidence to support an accusation.

BRN investigations require a standard of evidence that supports a reasonable belief that a violation of nursing regulations or standards may have occurred. The evidence should be sufficient to establish a prima facie (meaning assumed to be valid until proven otherwise) case against the nurse, indicating enough evidence to warrant further investigation.

Direct evidence directly proves or disproves accusations, while circumstantial evidence relies on inferences drawn from surrounding circumstances. The BRN can consider both types of evidence in investigations, but direct evidence typically carries more weight.

When reviewing evidence, credible witnesses, like colleagues or patients, can provide firsthand accounts or observations relevant to the accusation. Accurate documentation is vital evidence to support or refute accusations against a nurse. Recording occurrences and responses is crucial to document what transpired in the field. This can protect you in the long run against unwarranted complaints and accusations from the BRN. 

The Investigative Process of the BRN

The BRN follows a structured investigative process, often involving gathering evidence, conducting interviews, reviewing documents, and consulting with expert witnesses. Many nurses report inaccurate, exaggerated, or unwarranted accusations from the BRN. The Deputy Attorney General (DAG) strives to build a case against the nurse, highlighting small mistakes or past transgressions.

This is why hiring professional legal counsel with experience defending against the BRN is vital. Facing the BRN alone leads to license revocation while hiring legal counsel improves defense against the BRN.

Strategies for Protecting Yourself Against Accusations

It’s important that you don’t wait until it’s too late to defend yourself against the BRN. There are several necessary steps you must take to protect your license from being suspended, along with hiring the right legal counsel to prevent you from losing your license altogether.

Maintaining accurate documentation and records is crucial to protecting yourself against accusations from the BRN. Documenting patient interactions, care provided, and any incidents or concerns can provide an accurate account of your actions and decisions, serving as valuable evidence in the case of an accusation.

Establishing open lines of communication with colleagues and patients is also key to preemptively defending against any potential complaints or accusations. Maintaining open and transparent communication with colleagues and patients fosters trust and reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings or misinterpretations. A long list of satisfied patients and colleagues can serve as valuable witnesses, reflecting your character and professionalism.

Adhering to professional standards and guidelines is essential to prevent misunderstandings or mistakes that could cost you your nursing license. 

You should also continuously update and improve your knowledge and skills as a registered nurse. Continuing education and professional development minimize errors and enhance competence in your field. Keeping current with trends and innovations in the industry protects you from making mistakes or using outdated practices.

Don’t Go Up Against the BRN Alone

Understanding BRN processes, evidence requirements, and self-protection strategies helps navigate distressing accusations. Mitigate unwarranted accusations and ensure a positive professional journey by maintaining accurate documentation, open communication, adhering to standards, and improving skills. Remember, vigilance, professionalism, and a commitment to providing quality care are crucial to safeguarding your nursing career. 

Hiring the proper legal counsel to assist you in your defense guarantees that you have an advocate in your corner. RN Guardian’s experienced legal team defends nurses against the BRN, guiding you throughout the entire process.

Work with us, and rest assured with an expert defense team ready to protect you against any accusations.