Two NPs recently contacted me when it was too late to help them and they have either had, or are going to have, their Nurse Practitioner licenses revoked because they employed the worst legal defense strategy ever. I get it… BRN action is scary, so the ostrich defense of burying your head in the sand and hoping it will all go away often seems like the best strategy. But I promise you, while the ostrich defense never works, the early bird strategy always does, and those nurses gets to keep their NP license.
The Early Bird Keeps Their NP License from Being Revoked
Nurse Practitioner License issues do not creep up on nurses out of the blue. You will have multiple indications that the BRN is going to get involved with you and your NP license. Here are just a few:
- You get a DUI
- You get arrested for anything
- You get questioned by your employer for missing meds, charting errors, patient complaints, or co-worker complaints
- You get fired for any of the above actions
- You divert medication
- You go to work impaired
- You take a drug test that comes back positive
Any of the aforementioned issues mean that the BRN is going to come knocking at your door (usually figuratively). It may take 6 months. It may take a year, but they will come. If you’ve had your head firmly planted 6 inches under, you may not realize it when they do.
Initial BRN contact will come 1 of 3 ways:
- A letter offering you the Diversion Program (you can actually employ the ostrich defense here but read up on it before you do)
- Contact from a BRN investigator
- An Accusation against your NP license
It is EXCEEDINGLY RARE that you will just get the accusation without either a diversion offer or investigation first, but it can happen. If you call us at the earliest opportunity or indication that the BRN is taking action, I promise we can save your NP license from being revoked because… well…. We always do.
You can ignore Diversion. It is voluntary, so you don’t have to go and you don’t have to respond telling them you are declining. You CANNOT ignore the investigation without incurring an Unprofessional Conduct charge from the BRN. You CANNOT ignore the Accusation… not even for a brief time, because if you fail to respond in 15 days, you will have your NP license revoked on a default order.
Two Examples of the Failed Ostrich Defense
“Just Ignore It Jenna”
Jenna had an accusation filed against her for 4 separate counts of medication charting errors over a 2 day period, because she charted that the medication was given before it was pulled and given. This is a totally defendable accusation, and relatively minor. She would have likely ended up with a letter of public reprimand had she contacted us when the accusation was filed. Had she contacted us to defend her at the investigation stage, this issue may not have even resulted in an accusation at all. But Jenna didn’t contact us. She didn’t have the correct address on file with the BRN, so there was a delay in forwarding the mail. When she finally did receive the Accusation, she didn’t file the notice of defense on time, so they moved for default revocation. When she finally received the Order of Revocation in the mail, she didn’t call us within 7 days so that we could appeal the order and reopen the case. She must now wait 4 years to get her license back.
She told me that she thought the underlying was issue was so minor that the BRN wouldn’t possibly revoke his license for it, and she was right. The BRN didn’t revoke the license for the accusation, they revoked her license because she ignored it.
“Last Minute Larry”
The second nurse sent me the below email. Notice the time and date when it was sent.
Sent: Thursday, 3:25 AM
To: RN Guardian
Subject: New submission from How can we help you?
My hearing is this morning at 9 am I need to hire a lawyer to help me keep my NP License. My plan was to go to the hearing with no legal representation. After reading a few articles online. I need help. Please consider taking my case and help me keep my NP license.
C’MON!!!! Most legal offices aren’t open at o’dark-thirty and I’m not checking my phone at 3:25 am. Even if we were, this nurse practitioner was about 2 months too late. He had likely had the Accusation for at least 6 months and would have agreed to the hearing date. We can’t exactly just show up at your hearing the morning of, in our bunny slippers and curlers, and argue a case we’ve never seen before. What we can do is probably settle your case without even having to go to a hearing or prevent an Accusation from being filed in the first place.
If we had sufficient time with the client we absolutely would have been able to help Larry keep the NP license because, well… We always do.
It doesn’t take an attorney or even an experienced legal professional to see that one defense strategy never works if you don’t want to lose your NP license. It is absolutely worth getting an attorney involved at the earliest possible stage if you want to keep it.
Contact our team today to ensure you keep your nurse practitioners license and have the least impact to your livelihood and career.