What process is required before the BRN can suspend a license before engaging in an investigation?
Issuance of an Interim Order:
When and How the BRN can accelerate the procedure for restriction of a nurse’s license.
According to Section 494 of the Business and Professions code, the Board of Registered Nurses has the authority to immediately restrict a nurse’s license, if the board has satisfactorily demonstrated [to themselves] that the nurse has engaged in illegal acts and that the public would be endangered if the nurse continued practicing without restriction. This is done through what is referred to as an interim suspension order, which is initiated via a petition filed by the Board’s executive director.
The nurse has the right to notice of the interim order, unless it is clear that the public will be seriously injured before notice could be issued. The notice should be received at least 15 days before the hearing for the petition to implement the interim order. This notice should include the documents that are being used to justify the action against the nurse.
If the order was initiated without notice, the nurse will be notified within 2 days after issuance of the order and will be provided all of the documents used to support the board’s decision. The nurse has the right to a hearing within 20 days after the order is effective. If the board does not conduct a hearing within 20 days after the issuance of the order, it will become ineffective.
During the petition hearing, the licensed nurse has a right to counsel, a right to a record of the proceedings, and a right to present evidence and oral argument. 5 days after the hearing, the board will issue a decision. The decision to issue an interim order, or to continue an interim order that was issued without notice, must be based on proof by a “preponderance of the evidence” that the nurse engaged in the prohibited conduct.
If an interim order is issued, the board must issue an accusation within 15 days after issuance. If the interim order was issued without notice, this 15 day time limit will begin after the hearing on the order. A hearing will take place within 30 days of issuance of the accusation, or if the nurse files a notice of defense to the accusation, 30 days after the board receives the defense. A decision for the accusation will be rendered no more than 30 days after said hearing. If any of these deadlines are violated, the interim order will dissolve.
These interim orders are subject to judicial review in superior court, but the court will only review whether the board abused its discretion on issuing the order. The court will find abuse of discretion only if the board failed to proceed according to the above law, or the interim order is not supported by substantial evidence already on the record. It will not hold a re-hearing, accept new evidence, or hear new arguments. It will only determine whether the board abused its discretion.
If the nurse fails to comply with the interim order, the nurse will be subject to additional disciplinary action.