The Real BRN License Discipline Numbers
Who is likely to get in trouble and for what?
The California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) publishes a list of their annual discipline cases in every meeting agenda, so you can find out the real numbers of BRN License Discipline cases that actually occur, who is the most likely demographic group to have a license accusation filed by the BRN and what the nurse did. The results may surprise you because the real numbers discount the argument that “accusations just aren’t that common,” and they discount the argument “it can’t happen to me.”
HOW MANY COMPALINTS ARE THERE, REALLY?
There were a total of 8330 total intakes for the published 2012-2013 year. Really. That is about 3000 more than there were just a few years ago and that number is expected to rise.
2876 of those were actual “complaints” against nurses to the BRN. That can mean anything from a legitimate complaint from a patient or hospital to a revenge complaint from a crazy co-worker or disgruntled ex. It looks like most of those were legit though… only 600 or so were closed without further assignment.
The lion’s share of intakes were from convictions and most of those are for DUI arrests. 5456 complaints resulted from a conviction. Only 18 of those cases were withdrawn or dismissed.
36 of these were Orders to Compel Psychological evaluations.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
It means that the BRN is very active, that they take complaints seriously and that once an accusation is filed, you have a snowballs chance of getting it dismissed. It means that almost 2700 nurses were contacted by the BRN just for complaints being filed against them and likely had to meet with an investigator and of those, many became formal accusations. It means that 5438 nurses are going to have an accusation filed against their license and because the BRN so rarely drops it, this same 5438 nurses are going to either lose their licenses or have their licenses subjected to some sort of discipline. 36 of these nurses are going to be ensnared in the most atrocious and entrapping, between a rock in a hard place, position possible… but Orders to Compel Psychological evaluations is another blog piece.
HOW MANY NURSES LOSE THEIR LICENSES and WHY?
The numbers are frightening. Of the 1160 cases that made it through the accusation process this year, 852 nurses lost their licenses. Of the remaining 4000 cases still pending, the same 73% will probably lose their licenses too. My guess why so many RN’s are losing their licenses following an accusation is for 1 of 2 reasons:
1.) They lose it on a default order. If you’ve read any of my other blog posts, you’ll hear me blabbing away about the critical importance of filing the Notice of Defense on time. You have 14 days to file once the accusation has been served and if you miss the deadline, the BRN moves for a default order to revoke, regardless of the underlying reason for the accusation.
2.) They don’t hire an attorney or they hire an attorney who doesn’t know what they are doing. These proceedings are no joke people. The opposing counsel is a Deputy Attorney General who has handled hundreds of cases for the BRN. Your license and career are at stake here, this is not the time to try to defend yourself on your own or use the same guy who did your estate plan.
Now hang on a second, you claim a 98% SUCCESS RATE for SAVING LICENSE FROM REVOCATION… what’s the deal?
Our team of attorneys have handled upwards of a thousand cases and we know this Board and their attorneys like the back of our hand. There is absolutely ZERO reason a nurse should lose their RN license because of a DUI. Now please don’t mistake saving a license with getting the case dropped. As you can see, only 18 of the 5456 Accusations were dismissed and while I would love for our firm to be able to take credit for that, we can’t. What we do is negotiate a level of discipline that the Nurse can live with and that simultaneously appeases the Board.
WHAT ABOUT THE NURSES WHO ENTER DIVERSION?
I don’t think the statistics above take Diversion enrollees into account- although they may. Most RNs who enter Diversion, do so because they think it will be the only way to save their license from revocation following a DUI or suspicion of diversion of medication allegation. Of the 8000 + complaints, some of those could have resulted in the nurse being offered and accepting the Diversion program, but only 630 nurses enrolled this past year. These nurses will not have accusations filed against them and the matter will remain anonymous ONLY IF THE NURSE CAN COMPLETE THE 3 YEAR PROGRAM. If the RN decides she can’t finish it because she isn’t an addict or can’t cope with taking a year off work, then that nurse will have an accusation filed, just like the rest of them.
WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO ENTER DIVERSION?
The most likely nurse to enter diversion is the same demographic who is having complaints filed against them. Caucasian Females between the ages of 40-49 who work in critical care at a hospital are the most likely demographic group to have a licensing issue and it is either for alcohol or Demeral use. Does this surprise you? It doesn’t surprise me. The majority of my clients fall smack dab into the middle of that category. These are not young or inexperienced nurses! These are seasoned professionals who probably have 20 years or more under their belts and they are getting popped for DUI arrests or their crazy ICU jobs are driving them to self-medicate to cope.
LET’S TALK ABOUT THE NUMBER WE CARE ABOUT: HOW MUCH $ WILL ALL THIS COST ME?
I’ve heard some crazy fees brandished around out there and you probably have too. $30,000 retainers for representation at a hearing, $15,000.00 in fines back to the BRN. Sure at that point taking a year off work to deal with Diversion doesn’t seem so bad, but Diversion isn’t cheap either. $500.00 / month for 3 years (that’s $18,000) and the potential of a 28 day inpatient program is nothing to sneeze at.
Of course you could surrender your license, but then you are giving up your $1,000,000.00 lifetime career.
While each case is different and a very select few do require a hearing to resolve, most of our cases settle without a hearing. 90% of them settle for less than a $4000.00 flat fee for attorney representation and less than $2 grand in blood money to the Board.
HOW ALL THESE NUMBERS PAN OUT
We know this: that 9000 + nurses are going to be dealing with the BRN this coming year and more than 10% are going to have their licenses revoked. If you have a complaint filed against you for any reason, the BRN will very likely investigate. If you get arrested, you are going to have an accusation filed against you and you have a 73% chance of losing your license once that happens.
Or, you can turn all of these numbers in your favor and call me. 99.6% License Retention for my registered nurse clients at one of the best rates around, are numbers you can count on.