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Consequences of Nursing Complaints

consequences of nursing complaints

If you have chosen the rewarding and difficult career path of being a nurse, the potential of a complaint filed against you is something you must always keep under consideration. It can happen to any nurse, regardless of experience. It’s entirely common and understandable to want to panic, which is why it’s of great importance to have a clear sense of the actual and tangible consequences that can arise from a filed complaint as a result of the ensuing nursing board investigation. Ultimately a strong understanding of the process of developing responses, while accounting for the possible outcomes can better prepare you to handle the investigation process and remain calm and collected along the way. Below we discuss some of these possible outcomes of complaint against nurses and tell you why Nursing Complaint can help you prepare and plan for them.

The Complaint Process

Before we explain specific consequences, It’s important for you to have an idea of the process of responding to complaints in nursing, so that the consequences themselves are better understood and contextualized. 

Every state Board of Nursing is in place to regulate nurses, both registered and licensed practical nurses, and certified advanced practice nurses in order to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare. The Board exists to protect patients by ensuring that all nurses are competent and safe to practice. 

A complaint can be filed by anyone who believes that a nurse has engaged in improper or illegal activities that are related to his/her professional responsibilities. Common causes for complaints can arise from issues concerning unprofessional conduct, license misuse or fraud, misrepresentation, and perceived negligence or incompetence. 

Complaints received by the Board are first reviewed to determine if the allegation is one that the Board has the authority to further investigate.

After reviewing the complaint, the Board of Nursing sends a written notification of investigation of some type to the nurse who has had the complaint lodged against him or her. The more severe the complaint, the higher its priority with the Board. The complaint is then investigated by an employee of the state board of nursing.  The nurse is given time to respond to the complaint. If the Board believes that the evidence shows the nurse has violated the Nursing Practice Act, the Board will move forward with some type of action.

complaint against nursing licenseThe Board may send the nurse a proposal in the form of a proposed order, they may request that the nurse meets with some employees of the Board, but generally, they will send a proposal in writing. The nurse can respond to the proposal, and always should do so in writing. She can ask for changes to wording in the proposal, and can also ask for a lesser type of an Order, and can usually ask to come to the Board and discuss the case with the investigator or a panel of Board employees whose responsibility it is to come up with a resolution.

Potential Outcomes

Now that you are aware of how the process works in general, it’s good to know what types of rulings could arise from a complaint against a nursing license. 

Case Closed 

The case could be closed with no action if the Board does not believe that there is action or non-action by the nurse that violates the Nursing Practice Act.

Facing Discipline 

You may face disciplinary action from your employer. Hospitals can fire nurses, or force them to take part in education, or preceptorship-type of supervision.

You may receive an order from the Board that obligates you to take courses, pay a fine, work under supervision, work in a particular area, or not work in a particular area. They may require you to show any final order to your employer and any future employers during the pendency of the Order, and they may require reporting of some type from your employer.

Suspension of License

If a complaint is very serious and is considered by the Board to be valid, a potential consequence could be the suspension or revocation of your license to practice. Depending on the severity of the complaint, the jurisdiction, and the way it’s subsequently responded to, this can be as temporary as weeks or months and years, and unfortunately in some cases, it can be permanent. You can usually access information on your state board of nursing website to see some type of guidance regarding what types of offenses could lead to suspension or revocation. Generally, those infractions would be very serious, very often criminal, and require suspension or revocation.

Let Nursing Complaint Help

If you’re currently dealing with a nursing complaint, or are worried you might soon be, let the expertise offered by Nursing Complaint guide you from the beginning. Visit us online, where you can receive access to helpful information in the form of how-to videos, sample responses, written material, and assistance to deal with some of the most common nursing complaints and the response process. Remember, knowledge is power.

We always suggest consulting with an attorney, but if you cannot find a lawyer experienced in responding to the State Board of Nursing, or do not wish to hire an attorney, join Nursing Complaint now to get exclusive access to information and assistance which help you respond to your State Board.