A nursing license suspension is actually an incredibly rare occurrence among our clients. In fact, for the thousands of nurses our attorneys have represented, only a couple have had their RN licenses suspended for any period of time and never longer than 6 months.
WHEN DOES NURSING LICENSE SUSPENSION OCCUR?
A nurse’ RN license will only be suspended for 3 reasons: 1.) If the nurse voluntarily enrolls in the BRN’s Diversion or Intervention Program; 2.) following an Accusation being filed against the RN license as a form of discipline and 3.) in extremely rare cases where the BRN is able to have a license suspended immediately during a criminal trial.
Enrollment in the Diversion Program is the most common reason a nurse will receive a nursing license suspension. Once the registered nurse joins the Diversion or Intervention Program, the RN license is immediately suspended and deactivated and it remains suspended until the nurse is deemed recovered enough to safely practice. Typically, this takes anywhere form 6- 12 months, but it can be longer. The BRN or their provider Maximus will tell you the RN license will only be suspended for 3 months, but for the thousands of nurses I’ve spoken with over the years, this has never once been the case. For much more on the Diversion Program, click here.
A nursing license suspension can also occur as a form of discipline following an Accusation being filed against the RN’s license. Every Accusation calls for suspension or revocation of the RN license, but this is the most severe penalty the BRN can impose. Accusations are filed for everything from arrests and misdemeanor criminal convictions, to charting errors and medication discrepancies, to patient care issues, diversion of medication or HIPPA violations. As most of these violations of the Nurse Practice Act can be reduced to a lower level of discipline, like a Letter of Public Reprimand or Probation, our clients almost never receive a nursing license suspension as a form of discipline. Actually, we have a 99% success rate in avoiding license suspension or revocation for our RN clients! For more on what happens following an Accusation, click here.
Finally, if you are accused of a crime so egregious and so substantially related to the practice of nursing that the BRN feels like your RN license should be immediately suspended in order to protect the public, they may have an attorney appear at court and request that the judge impose an immediate suspension of your RN license at that time. I have seen this in only 2 cases: one was a nurse who was accused of practicing without a license and the other was for a very involved domestic abuse case. However, in neither of those circumstances was the request granted. The attorneys argued that due process be allowed to take its course and that the RN should not be punished professionally until a court decided that the nurse was in fact guilty of the underlying crime.
WHAT DOES A NURSING LICENSE SUPENSION MEAN?
A suspension of your nursing license means that you may not work as a registered nurse or in any capacity where your RN license is a requirement of the job. For many nurses who have their RN licenses suspended as a result of enrolling in the Diversion program, they lose their jobs and have to find new employment once the Diversion Program clears them to go back to work. For nurses who have their licenses suspended after an Accusation, they may return to work once the suspension is lifted; in our 2 cases, it was 6 months. For the rare case where the license may be suspended in criminal court, the license will not be returned to active status until the Accusation has been served and the RN has gone to Hearing, this process will likely take 18 to 24 months, or more.
NURSING LICENSE SUPENSION and PROBATION ARE NOT THE SAME THING
While a nursing license suspension is a rare occurrence, probation is not. Probation is the most common form of discipline imposed following an Accusation and at no point during Probation, is your RN license suspended. You may work as an RN the entire time you are on Probation, the only caveat is that there may be a short waiting period while the BRN approves your job. For more on Probation, click here.
CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR RN LICENSE BEING SUSPENDED?
If you are concerned that your RN license may be suspended, please give me a call. There are a multitude of options available to you and I can promise with 99% certainty based on our past clients, that license suspension isn’t going to be one of them. Suspensions are the second most harsh form of discipline that the BRN can impose, other than revoking your RN license, and in virtually every case, this does not have to happen. RN Guardian and its team of panel attorneys have had incredible success in defending nurses’ RN licenses because that is literally all that we do. We’ve made it our career to protect yours, and our top priority is to keep your nursing license from being suspended.