I survived the Board of Nursing

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    Describes my ordeal handling a complaint against my nursing license.

    I survived the Board of Nursing

    Where do I begin? I have been following this site for years and it has been a source of both comfort and anxiety. I have been a nurse for over 30 years. I was working as a Nursing Director for a non-profit organization supporting adults with intellectual disabilities. I had worked there for several years but the stress was taking its toll, so I decided to move on to something less stressful. A full two months after I left, I received a letter from the board of nursing stating that there was a complaint against my license.

    I was almost physically sick as I read page after page of allegations of neglect, poor judgment, failure to follow nursing standards –the list went on. To be honest I could not believe what I was reading, much less begin to understand where all this was coming from. Many of the complaints were about areas that I was not even responsible for. The letter gave me 10 days to respond to the allegations. My first instinct was to get a lawyer; I let my husband talk me out of it. He was convinced, as I was, that I simply had to respond to the allegations and they would go away. HOW WRONG I WAS!! Foolishly I thought that if I simply explained what really happened the situation would be resolved.

    I submitted my carefully crafted response and waited for the board to exonerate me. After four months with no response, I contacted the board to find out what the status of the complaint was. After some transfers, I was informed by the board’s lawyer that they were moving forward with disciplinary action. I did not know what to say or do – I was in complete shock. I managed to ask what recourse I would have, I was told that I would be able to request a settlement hearing once I was formally notified of my charges. I immediately contacted a lawyer. BEST MOVE I MADE. She carefully reviewed the information and submitted a letter to the board that all further communication was to come through her. I then sat and waited for nine long months for the formal charges. I prayed, worried, stressed, and cried my way through those months. If it had not have been for the support of my husband I would not have made it through the whole ordeal.

    Finally, I received an email outlining the charges – all eleven of them. I was devastated, but once I got myself together I sat down and carefully read them. Charge, after charge I had clear evidence to refute. I contacted my lawyer who had already requested a settlement hearing. I went over the charges and my evidence to refute the charges. She spent two days carefully crafting a response to each allegation and attaching supporting evidence.

    The settlement hearing came a month later – I can’t explain how I felt looking into the faces of the board members and explaining complaint after complaint. I was an exemplary nurse, who had never had a bad report or performance evaluation and here I was practically begging for my license.

    The board had not conducted ANY type of investigation, had not contacted my former employer, requested records, or interviewed me –NOTHING! It took all of 30 minutes and I was dismissed to wait for their decision.

    Later that afternoon, I got the best phone call from my lawyer, all charges were dropped – case closed. That’s it – it was finally over. Needless to say this has left a bad taste in my mouth. The board could just as easily have taken my livelihood away from me without doing their due diligence. Looking back I am so disappointed in an entity that supposedly is in place to protect the public yet failed to conduct a proper investigation on allegations that turned out be completely false.
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    58 Comments

  3. by   quazar
    It's stories like this that push me closer and closer to the edge of leaving nursing altogether. I'm so glad you kept your license and it was resolved.
  4. by   suseliz
    I have not had a board complaint, but my late husband had a complaint from his professional board. We learned 2 things. 1) Carry your own malpractice insurance in addition to what your employer carries. Your own malpractice will cover and represent you for charges made against you by the board.
    2) Your initial response to the complaint needs to be through your attorney.
  5. by   flava66
    Wow, this story is both in spring and scary. I'm so happy things worked out for you!
  6. by   Garden,RN
    I suspect you won't get many responses out of fear. I am not surprised, after all it is the culture of nursing, the very sad fact that someone sat down and made complaints against you that were false. I am so glad you made it through and have your license intact.
  7. by   James W.
    Perhaps you ought to consider filing a claim for wrongful prosecution?

    Your BoN clearly needs to revise its approach,
    & it may take a lawsuit to get them up to speed.

    Of course it is the primary duty of a BoN to ensure public safety via
    regulating nurse conduct, but never-the-less - it is incumbent on them
    to act in accordance with professional values, too.

    Basic issues like natural justice & the merit base of the case appear lacking
    in this instance, prosecution of which has quite evidently been the cause of
    needless angst & other costs to you.

    Slap a defamation suit on the false complainants, too.
  8. by   beckysue920
    OMG, I am so sorry you had to be so tortured!! Did the BON tell you WHO filed the complaints? I do hope you were able to find who your accuser was, and will take necessary steps to keep this scum from doing it to someone else.

    James W (the response just above this) has made some excellent points.

    I hope your future is considerably less stressful. ~Take care...
  9. by   Hancock330
    I'm sorry to hear that you B of N was so unprofessional as to charge you with misdeeds without ever examining the evidence to support the complaint. This is truly a case of nurses (I'm assuming that some, probably most, of the board members are nurses) eating their own.

    That said, while I was never the victim of a complaint to a B of N and was never named in a malpractice suit, I ALWAYS carried my own malpractice insurance. If you think, for one minute, that your employer will not offer you up as the sacrificial victim if you are named in a lawsuit while protecting themselves and their revenue-source-physicians from damage, you're crazy. And if you assume the B of N or any other "justice" system will automatically be fair, again, you're crazy. When there's any kind of threat to you license you need a lawyer who is protecting you so YOUR malpractice insurance company won't have to pay up to 3 million dollars in damages or to keep YOU as a customer with a license to practice nursing. There's no guarantee that you will be well represented or that the outcome will be fair to you, but just as the old saying goes that the person who has him/herself for a physician has a fool for a patient, so, the nurse who has her/himself as a lawyer has a fool for a client. Lawyers are expensive, and without malpractice insurance you could be out tens of thousands of dollars paying someone to defend you -- and that versus the $115 to $150 a year malpractice insurance costs for all nurses but those in high risk specialties, is a good reason to carry the insurance.
  10. by   LadysSolo
    I can't believe they made NO investigation! (Actually I can, and that's scary.) However, that is SHAMEFUL! They needed at least to look for corroborating evidence of the complaint. When there is a complaint against a nursing home in my state, the surveyors send out someone to investigate the complaint before any more is done. One would think the BON would at least take as much care. Apparently not. I ALWAYS recommend carrying your own malpractice insurance - I want someone whose sole focus is defending me.
  11. by   WhatNext?
    Thank you for sharing your experience.

    I had an encounter with my BON ten years ago, yet I remember it like it happened yesterday.

    Unlike you, I knew it was coming. Still, the shock of receiving the letter, which took eleven months after the incident, made me sick to my stomach and emotional beyond my ability to function.

    Getting a lawyer is the best thing I did. I got a referral from my State Nursing Association for an attorney who was familiar with license issues. He was so much help.

    It took the Board 11 months to take action and they wanted a response in 10 days, then they took another month to act on the response. The charges were dismissed without a hearing and no action was taken against me.

    The blow to my career and my identity as a nurse was there, though. I couldn't find work in my field. I worked per diem in a hospital for a while, then home care. But I couldn't shake the feeling that any decision that I made would come back to haunt me.

    I "retired" from nursing 2 years ago. I did not renew my nursing license last year. I decided that 40 years as a nurse is enough.

    I hope that you can move through this experience with the BON.
    I hope that you can continue to work and flourish in the profession.
  12. by   NurseDiane
    State Boards of Nursing will not allow the nurse facing charges to know the name(s) of the person/persons filing the complaint(s). I think that is total crap. Many nurses have faced bogus & false complaints made against them by other nurses that didn't like them, a scorned ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend, or someone they rubbed the wrong way, which the BON don't even investigate before charging them & making their lives hell. I think the rules must be changed in this regard to prevent false complaints from being filed. Nurses have the right to know who filed the complaint(s) so they have proper avenues of redress against the false complaints. It would greatly reduce the false complaints from being filed if people knew that their identities were going to be revealed to the nurse and that they would run the risk of being sued for slander & libel.

    If I were you, I would submit a Freedom of Information Act request for ALL of the information with respect to the complaint submitted to the BON. Get the name(s) of the people and sue them for libel & slander. You've got a strong case for a lawsuit----then the person(s) that submitted the bogus complaint(s) can defend themselves in a court room just like you had to. That will make them think twice before ever doing that again.
  13. by   BeenThere2012
    Quote from James W.
    Perhaps you ought to consider filing a claim for wrongful prosecution?

    Your BoN clearly needs to revise its approach,
    & it may take a lawsuit to get them up to speed.

    Of course it is the primary duty of a BoN to ensure public safety via
    regulating nurse conduct, but never-the-less - it is incumbent on them
    to act in accordance with professional values, too.

    Basic issues like natural justice & the merit base of the case appear lacking
    in this instance, prosecution of which has quite evidently been the cause of
    needless angst & other costs to you.

    Slap a defamation suit on the false complainants, too.
    This all costs lots of money...upwards of $40,000.00. If you do not have access to this amount or more, you are stuck.
  14. by   BeenThere2012
    Yes agreed. Whatever happened to being able to question your accusers? Is that the prosecuting attorney or the people who bring the complaint? Who technically are the accusers? I have a case now where the statements made by another nurse are totally false as well as other inconsistencies. I found this out once the discovery came. I know these statements and others had a big effect on my case. My hands are tied. My lawyer didn't recommend a hearing.
    Last edit by BeenThere2012 on Aug 27, '16 : Reason: Punctuation

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