Nursing without license - page 4

Hi everybody, I have been searching throughout the forums for information regarding legal implications of Nurses practicing without a license, either status "denied" or "expired" . The other day... Read More

  1. by   BSNtobe2009
    Quote from hollyvk
    Why don't we have a perfect world where info about licensure problems is promptly reported to employers and where employers are always on the ball in tracking licensure status?

    Mostly money and manpower, but also priorities and attention to details.

    Of course nurses are always responsible for informing their employers regarding problems with their licensure status, but often the boards aren't that efficient in doing that they are suppose to do in a timely manner.

    In my state, fiscal belt tightening got rid of continuing ed requirements for nursing a decade ago (too expensive of a program to maintian, the heck with the value of it to the public in ensuring that nurses stay up to date with changes in medical care/nursing). I have now just been through the bi-annual licensure renewal process. This year the BON included a required questionnaire as part of the renewal process. My license expired at the end of September. I mailed in my renewal on Sept. 13th, they deposited my check on the 15th. Come the end of the month I had no license and no explanation as to why (it was "in process" they said). Five weeks later I was informed that they'd LOST my questionnaire. I then faxed it to them and was renewed the following day.

    The only upside to this is that I don't work in patient care and thus didn't need my license to be able to work during the month of October. But I'm betting I was not the only nurse so affected, and that others who needed their licenses to be able to work didn't receive their renewals before their current licenses expired.

    An astute employer will not allow a nurse to work without a current license. That's easy to track at the time of hire or at license renewal, but less so with pending examination changes or if something happens between renewals that changes the status of the license. In my situation, the renewal was retroactive back to when my license expired at the end of Sept. If I had worked as an RN with a pending renewal status license, I would not have been legal, but in reality the legal penalties would not be as severe as if I had done so with a revoked or a non-renewed license.

    And to the original poster of this thread, my concern is if your employer is not focusing sufficient attention on one of the most basic tenets of safe patient care (current, valid personnel licensure), what else are they not doing that impacts patient care and patient safety? Does your continued employment with this employer indicate your tacit approval of such lassitude? And while it's easy to be unhappy with (former) co-workers who did not comply with licensure requirements, I think you have misfocused your attention from where the real problem lies, which is that your employer allowed this situation to happen.

    HollyVK, RN (for another 2 yrs), BSN, JD
    I'm not a nurse, so I have no idea if the BON has to know where you are working at all times. I have a couple of professional licenses in my state and anytime I move, change my e-mail or phone, I have 10 business days to inform them of the change. Both also has to know who my employer is, b/c with both, I cannot use the license unless I am employeed consistent with the licenses. It's against the law if I don't comply.

    I think it would be safe to assume, that the BON probably does inform the last known employer in the case of a license revocation or suspension, but I would say they legally have the right to put this responsibility on the accused, just in case the BON does not have accurate employment information.
  2. by   Dixiecup
    Quote from HappyNurse2005
    Yes, but you also must think-maybe they legally have a different name, or go by their middle name at work. for ex, we have a nurse (not her real name here, of course) named Jennifer Layla Jones. She goes by Layla Jones, its on her nametag, etc. everyone calls her layla. now, if you did an internet license search for Layla Jones, you wouldn't find anything, since legally she's Jennifer.

    things aren't always as they seem, and i wouldn't go reporting people if you dont know for sure. your work should be verifying licenses, and making people show them when they renew
    That happened once where I worked. We thought this nurse was diverting narcotics and had other questionable behavior. ONe of the nurses checked BON website and she wasn't listed. Told our DON. There was a big stink about it. Come to find out, her license was in her previous name before she was married. Boy, did we have egg on our face!
  3. by   TouchstoneRN
    We have a moral and legal responsiblity as Nurses to our patients. When I started this thread I was just looking for the answers but I see I opened a pandora's box of opinions. Sure if a nurse has nicknames you could make a mistake but in the end the suspected nurse is vindicated. What if any of you worked side by side everyday with a nurse who you grew to trust with your patients only to find out they never passed their boards after three attempts then lied to your employer? What if one day while busily caring for your patients, you receive a subpeona to appear before a judge because a patient's family is now sueing you in a wrongful death suit? only to find out their only cause of action is because of information they received about this unlicensed nurse? Bet anyone reading this didn't know that the BON and the employers involved now have to notify every patient the unlicensed nurse cared for....imagine the Lawyer's feast...even if the the unlicensed nurse gave the most appropriate care because that nurse is unlicensed and if the patient passed.... guess who's fault it's going to be? And any of us licensed nurses who worked side by side, charted the same charts are now in question? Yeah, I guess because we hold licenses in the end we couldn't be held responsible but imagine the time and money wasted on someone else's irresponsibility....
    I still says it's a criminal act and anyone working without a license (putting aside the newly expired license) has antisocial tendencies. It's against the law to drive without a license, plain and simple, it's also againt the law to practice nursing without a license..
  4. by   banditrn
    I went to school with this one gal - after graduation, she moved and was going to take her boards in another state. Well, a few years later, she moved back and took a job at the hospital where I worked in L&D, where she worked for about 2 years - before they discovered she HAD NO LICENSE. She had apparently failed the boards in the other state. She kept telling them she misplaced it when she moved.

    This was all hushed up big time - don't know if it was reported to the state or not.
  5. by   santhony44
    Every place I've ever worked has verified licenses and has been on top of renewals. You present a license and it's verified before you ever start working. When your license is due to be renewed, the new one is on file or you don't work.

    My one stint in management was in industry (occupational health). I verified licenses of the nurses very soon after starting, and verified licenses of applicants before I ever talked to them. My boss, the HR manager who was not at all medical, was also very aware of the need for license verification and made sure it had been done. It was also one of the audit items the corporate nurse looked at.

    I can understand a facility not knowing that a nurse has lost a license while employed because the employee didn't tell, but I can't understand not checking in the first place.
  6. by   flytern
    How does this happen? In Illinois, every Rn's license expires at the same time (May) every 2 years. I've worked too hard/long to become a nurse, I'm responsible to make sure I send that check in every 2 years, get my license, give it to my boss. (Heaven forbid, should I ever have to take state boards again!)
    We get reminders from the hospital in our paychecks, posters.....
    If you forget, I figure you're an idiot!

    I know we all lead busy lives... but why would you let your license lapse?

  7. by   sjt9721
    Quote from flytern
    How does this happen? In Illinois, every Rn's license expires at the same time (May) every 2 years. I've worked too hard/long to become a nurse, I'm responsible to make sure I send that check in every 2 years, get my license, give it to my boss. (Heaven forbid, should I ever have to take state boards again!)
    We get reminders from the hospital in our paychecks, posters.....
    If you forget, I figure you're an idiot!

    I know we all lead busy lives... but why would you let your license lapse?

    Some states (OK and TX that I know of) use your birth month as your license renewal date.
  8. by   AuntieRN
    Even as a new grad with my name posted on the BON website with a valid license number next to it, I could not start working until I had the actual license in my hand which lucky for me came the next day after I found out I passed. It's scary that people can practice nursing without a license. I am not talking about one that expired...I am talking about people who never actually had one.
    Last edit by AuntieRN on Nov 14, '06 : Reason: correct wording.
  9. by   hollyvk
    In a perfect world there would be no sick people, and if there were, there would be no unlicensed healthcare providers . .

    But, of course, that's never going to happen.

    So what's the take-away message from this thread? (Besides the fact that YOU at all time are responsible for the status of your own license).

    1. There are people out there who will attempt to practice without a valid license, including LPNs/LVNs trying to pass themselves off as RNs, and LPNs and RNs with license issues (including trying to fraudulently use another nurse's license).
    Kentucky: Board of Nursing - Imposter Alert!

    2. Healthcare employers are responsible for ensuring that all personnel have current, valid licenses. Per the discussion here, we can see that doesn't always happen.

    3. There are consequences for this happening, some of which (civil litigation) Touchstone laid out in her attached post. But what I believe confuses people is the disconnect between the actions of the administrative licensing entity and the potential criminal consequences that may be addressed by the criminal justice system.

    If your driver's license is revoked and you continue to drive, you are obviously breaking the law. But if you cause no harm to others, who's going to bother to prosecute you criminally?

    It's the same with your nursing license. It's the state's BON that controls your license status, but generally it's your local county/parish prosecutor who decides if he/she is going to file criminal charges against you for practicing nursing without a license, and probably only in connection with other criminal charges relating to patient injury. Although it's certainly not out of the question to see a prosecution based solely on the licensure issue:

    State of New Jersey

    HollyVK, RN, BSN, JD



    Quote from TouchstoneRN
    We have a moral and legal responsiblity as Nurses to our patients. When I started this thread I was just looking for the answers but I see I opened a pandora's box of opinions. Sure if a nurse has nicknames you could make a mistake but in the end the suspected nurse is vindicated. What if any of you worked side by side everyday with a nurse who you grew to trust with your patients only to find out they never passed their boards after three attempts then lied to your employer?

    What if one day while busily caring for your patients, you receive a subpeona to appear before a judge because a patient's family is now sueing you in a wrongful death suit? only to find out their only cause of action is because of information they received about this unlicensed nurse?

    Bet anyone reading this didn't know that the BON and the employers involved now have to notify every patient the unlicensed nurse cared for....imagine the Lawyer's feast...even if the the unlicensed nurse gave the most appropriate care because that nurse is unlicensed and if the patient passed.... guess who's fault it's going to be? And any of us licensed nurses who worked side by side, charted the same charts are now in question? Yeah, I guess because we hold licenses in the end we couldn't be held responsible but imagine the time and money wasted on someone else's irresponsibility....

    I still says it's a criminal act and anyone working without a license (putting aside the newly expired license) has antisocial tendencies. It's against the law to drive without a license, plain and simple, it's also againt the law to practice nursing without a license..
  10. by   TouchstoneRN
    Update....If any of you are wondering what has happened to the Nurses involved - here is an update...the first nurse was promptly fired after it was determined that she never had a license to practice nursing...the state licensing division has opened a full investigation and charges will be filed. The second nurse with the expired license is currently being investigated after there was definitive proof that she also did not ever have a license to practice and has also been terminated from her position with our institution. The third nurse was able to finally provide proof but because she was working with an expired license for three months her licensed has been suspended for undetermined amount of time (she won't say) and she has been heavily fined.
  11. by   Quickbeam
    If your driver's license is revoked and you continue to drive, you are obviously breaking the law. But if you cause no harm to others, who's going to bother to prosecute you criminally?
    Well, me. I am a DOT nurse. Every day I take licenses away from people who are too medically impaired to drive. I also hook up police and social workers for services & action when medically impaired people keep driving after loss of license.

    On the "no license" topic..I had an interesting event happen. I'm the only RN in my agency which is non-medical except for my role. I train counter staff in basic medical situations they'll see at the counter. I had an employee who was constantly interrupting me, correcting me and giving others bad information. She told everyone in a 3 state area she was "a nurse". I took her aside privately and asked her about her status. She said she was an LPN. I asked if her license was valid...and she said yes. I called the BON and she had never been licensed. I confronted her and then the story unraveled....she'd take a few classes, dropped out, worked as a NA, felt she was "as good as" any nurse. I explained she could not call herself a nurse and that there were sanctions for doing so. A letter from the BON backed me up.

    She was angry because I stepped on her fiction. However, she was giving a lot of out of date and incorrect information to other trainees.
  12. by   oramar
    my thought is that any institution that allows a person to practice without throughly checking license status is extremely neglegent, others I am sure have said the same
  13. by   kitty=^..^=cat
    'Fake' nurse to appeal huge fine
    By Associated Press
    January 3, 2007


    CHATTANOOGA-A woman fined $717,000 by Tennessee's nursing board for falsely claiming to be a registered nurse and nurse practitioner said Wednesday she is a victim of "falsehoods" and will appeal the penalty.
    "I want these falsehoods retracted," said Marketa Barnes, 50, who formerly worked as administrator at a Caring Senior Service USA franchise in Chattanooga. "I know I am going to appeal it."




    A state Board of Nursing order said Barnes was fined for dispensing medicine and directing other employees without a license.

    Jeff Salter, the San Antonio, Texas-based company's founder and chief executive officer, said Barnes "at all times was an employee of a franchisee which is independently owned and operated." He said the company "had no supervisory authority over her."

    The former franchise holder, Jerry Batson, could not be reached for comment.

    From about October 2004 to April 2006, Barnes repeatedly called herself a "registered nurse" or "nurse practitioner" despite not having been licensed, the order says.

    While purporting to be a nurse, Barnes gave medications about 72 times and gave instructions to workers about 75 times, according to the order.

    "The action of Marketa Barnes poses such an imminent threat to patient safety that it requires maximum penalty," the order says.

    Barnes also could face legal problems from the Tennessee Department of Health's investigation. The department attorney is referring the case to the Hamilton County district attorney and "any other appropriate legal authorities," according to the Board of Nursing order.

    The order, issued after a Dec. 7 hearing, is the "culmination" of the department's investigation, department spokeswoman Shelley Walker said.

    The order also said Barnes gave one client drugs such as liquid methadone and later pronounced the same client's death.

    "That is a falsehood," Barnes said. "These people self-medicated. They did have nurses in the home."

    Barnes said she was a victim of a business dispute "vendetta" and was preparing an administrative appeal.

    Salter said he was denied inspection of the independently owned and operated Chattanooga franchise and went to court to terminate the franchise agreement. Salter said his company does not provide nursing services.

    "We feel pretty confident that had we been given the right to inspect this location, we would have caught some degree of (those) actions," Salter said.

    More details as they develop online and in Thursday's News Sentinel.

close