What’s A Public Reprimand and Why You Should Want One

A Public Reprimand conjures images of tar and feathering or schoolyard nightmares where everyone is pointing and laughing at you as you walk down the hall with toilet paper stuck to your shoe, but they are actually far more civil than that. If you’ve had an accusation filed against your RN License, this is the result you should hope and pray for.

Once an accusation has been filed by the California State Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) there are only a few ways it can go. Following are the possible results in order of severity -from worst to least:

  1. If you don’t reply to the accusation and fail to file the Notice of Defense within the 15 day window, your license will be revoked by a default order. The May 2011 accusations show that many of the “Revocations” were a result of a default order to revoke, simply  because the nurse failed to file the Notice of Defense.
  2. You can have your license revoked if you do not provide compelling mitigating evidence to the BRN which convinces them that you should be allowed to continue practicing as a nurse.
  3. You can have your license suspended for a period of time if the Board feels that the mitigating evidence isn’t sufficient to show that you should be placed on probation.
  4. You can be placed on probation for a period of 3 to 5 years and must abide by a stringent set of 14-19 Probation Requirements set forth by the Board.
  5. You can receive a Public Reprimand.
  6. You can have the case dismissed.

We at RN Guardian like to brag about the fact that our attorneys have been so proficient in their defense of Registered Nurses, that we’ve been able to have cases dropped, but it doesn’t happen very often and the initial accusation needs to be pretty “soft”. The more likely scenario is a Public Reprimand.

In eighty percent (80%) of the Public Reprimands against registered Nurses in May 2011, the nurse was represented by counsel.  Attorneys were able to get the Board to agree to a Public Reprimand for things like DUI with a collision and a blood alcohol content of .17%, a conviction of aggravated trespass which involved domestic violence, and an allegation of unprofessional conduct for failure to supervise staff. These are fairly serious accusations and for every Public Reprimand issued, there are 4 revocations for similar situations.  The difference is having lawyer who knows how to negotiate with the Board.

So what is the Public Reprimand exactly? It is a letter that will be attached to your registered nursing license for the remainder of your career. It is also attached to the initial accusation filed by the Board. It states the allegation, the mitigating evidence considered, and at the end says: For all intensive purposes, it is a slap on the wrist that will be public record. If anyone looks up your registered nursing license, they will be able to access this letter of Public Reprimand. Of course this is draw back and a bit of a proverbial scarlet letter with regards to your career, but it is far preferable to any other form of formal license discipline that the Board can impose.  With the right attorney, it is attainable.