Nurses and State Regulations
This paper discusses some of the potential risks to maintaining a valid nursing license, regulations requiring public disclosure, and ethics in nursing.
Looking at the Illinois State Board of Nursing website can give many insights into the types of ethics violations that need to be reported. Any person who has any sort of knowledge of conduct by a licensed nurse that “may violate a nursing law or rule or related state or federal law” may report the alleged violation to the State Board of Nursing. The Illinois State Board of Nursing also points out to report any nurse operating with behavior that is: unsafe, incompetent, unethical, as well as may operating be under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other chemicals. “Practice related, Drug related, Boundary violations, Sexual misconduct, Fraud, and Positive criminal background check are the subcategories that the various ethical violations fall under, both in Illinois as well as in the state of Indiana.
In terms of discipline, the Board can fine or give a civil penalty to the nurse who is being disciplined. They may be referred to an alternative discipline program, such as a drug or alcohol support and recovery program, in order to rehabilitate themselves. They can publicly reprimand or censure violators of the nurse practice. They can specifically limit or restrict certain aspects of a nurse’s practice while they work.
If a nurse needs to have this or her license reinstated, or “restored”, they must go to the State Board of Nursing for an application similar to the application which they used to get their license in the first place. There may be a possible examination to have their license reinstated as well as most likely a committee board review to make sure all requirements were followed by the violator.
Violators and their punishments are in fact, public information and as such, can be searched by others, including potential employers. I don’t feel this to be fair, although I do understand the good intentions a program like this has at its core. Sometimes people deserve their punishment, other times – a misunderstanding might hurt an innocent nurse and put a permanent strike on their record – but who is to decide? Well in this case, the State Board of Nursing in Illinois, or Indiana, or whichever state is governing for that matter decides this so it is important to realize ethics violations come with real, serious consequences.
Just as you can do in Illinois, the Indiana State Board of Nursing clearly welcomes its visitors to check out all sorts of programs to monitor RN licenses and any proceedings attached to issues. It is interesting to note just how much information and ease of access these State Board of Nursing websites offer to the public and yet most people have never heard about this. The transparency is a nice thought but it seems to me like the system needs some tweaking – those who should be benefiting most from it are the patients and I don’t have enough statistics to decide if they are or are not benefitting. I think nurses are human and make mistakes – and those who repeatedly make the same mistake should be reprimanded. Keeping track of these individuals is what I feel is most important in terms of keeping the public informed. For example, a male nurse may have just had a third complaint filed against him for inappropriate/unnecessary touching of a female client and when two or three or four similar complaints are filed on an individual, a trend is established and it is safer to say they may be a danger to patients receiving medical care.
Indiana Professional Licensing Agency. (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2016, from PLA: License Watch
Nurses. (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2016, from State of Illinois | Department of Financial & Professional Regulation
I enjoy photography as a hobby and was drawn to nursing because I believe in autonomy and health promotion. I look forward to nursing research and further implementation of evidenced base practice.
Joined Aug '17; Posts: 3; Likes: 3.Sep 26, '17Good article. I think that nurses deserve to be protected as much as patients. I have seen too many complaints (from patients/families) made to hospital admin, state, agencies etc. to know that the public has no idea what nurses do and/or should be doing. Too many nurses are hurt be these frivolous complaints!! Nursing is already hard enough without the threat of complaints and worry that patients and families can gain access to private info.