PA License Renewal: Are you guilty of a crime of "Moral Turpitude"? DUI, Drug crime

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    how does your state compare to pa'sdefinition. karen

    accurate and truthful license renewal
    by rena m. lawrence, r.n., ph.d., c.r.n.p.

    pa board of nursing newsletter winter 2004/2005, pg 26
    http://www.dos.state.pa.us/bpoa/lib/...nurse_2004.pdf

    the professional nursing law and the practical nurse law require that only persons with “good moral character” be licensed as registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and dietitian-nutritionists. most of us believe that we are of good moral character and have never been guilty of a crime of “moral turpitude,” nor would we ever deceive the board of nursing.

    however, the commonwealth court in moretti v.state board of pharmacy, 277 a.2d 516 (pa. cmwlth. 1971) has defined “moral turpitude” as “anything done knowingly contrary to justice, honesty or good morals.” the state board of nursing has adopted and applied this definition in cases before it where the licensee is charged with having been convicted, pleading guilty, entering a plea of nolo contendere,or being found guilty of a felony or a crime of moral turpitude.

    many licensees are also unaware that there are provisions in the practice acts for discipline of a license where the licensee has committed fraud or deceit in the practice of nursing or dietetics-nutrition, or in securing his or her admission to nursing practice or nursing school; or licensure as a dietitian-nutritionist. prosecuting attorneys for the department of state are increasingly utilizing this concept of fraud and deceit when filing formal charges against licensees. hence to the point, as you are aware, you are asked certain questions when you renew your license. “since your last renewal, have you been convicted, pleaded guilty, or entereda plea of nolo contendere, or received probation withoutverdict to any crime, felony or misdemeanor, including any dui/dwi or drug law violations, or are any criminal chargespending and unresolved in any state or jurisdiction?”

    should you answer “no” and it is later determined you should have checked “yes,” the prosecuting attorneys for the department of state may charge you with fraud and deceit in securing your continued license to practice and recommend disciplinary action against your license, in addition to any action with regard to the actual criminal matter. many licensees will state, “that’s not fair, moral turpitude is something terrible, heinous.” that was the old definition; that one stated above is the one currently utilized. other licensees will state, “i was innocent, but my lawyer advised me to plead guilty or nolo contendere; that nolo contendere wasn’t the same as pleading guilty.”
    this is incorrect; the licensing laws consider a nolo contendere plea as well as a guilty plea.

    a few say, “my lawyer said the charges were dropped.” unless you have something in writing that says the charges were dropped, report it on the renewal form and explain that you think the charges were dropped. then attempt to obtain the documentation from your attorney or from the court in which the criminal matter occurred.

    finally, one of the most common reporting problems is dui's and dwi's. many people do not view alcohol as a chemical dependency problem and say the dui or dwi was not an arrest but a traffic violation. incorrectly, many managers and administrators reinforce this misconception and believe unless the dui/dwi happened on the job, it’s irrelevant. however, the board views dui's and dwi's as a drug or alcohol related conviction and requires licensees to report these on the biennial renewal.

    the best advice the board can give a licensee is to tell the truth, check the right box and attach a personal explanation and court documentation. nurses and dietitian-nutritionists are good people and many problems with the law are minor and will not effect your license. reported criminal violations are reviewed by legal staff and in many cases do not pose a barrier to continued licensure. more licensees are getting into difficulty because they check “no” when they should have checked “yes.” it may sound trite, but tell the truth and you will never go wrong.
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Oct 6, '12
    gymkats likes this.
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    The effect of criminal convictions on nursing licensure
    by martha h. brown, board counsel



    PA state board nursing newsletter winter 2002 issue, pg. 7
    http://www.dos.state.pa.us/bpoa/lib/.../nurnews02.pdf

    many licensed nurses are not aware that a criminal conviction for a crime committed outside the practice of nursing may affect their nursing license. this article will discuss the various laws which permit or require the discipline of a nursing license for criminal actions and what constitutes an actionable criminal offense under those laws.

    felonies and crimes of moral turpitude
    the professional nursing law and the practical nurse law practice acts provide that the board may refuse or discipline1 any license if the board finds that: the licensee has been convicted, or has pleaded guilty, or entered a plea of nolo contendere, or has been found guilty by a judge or jury, of a felony or a crime of moral turpitude, or has received probation without verdict, disposition in lieu of trial or an accelerated rehabilitative disposition in the disposition of felony charges, in the courts of this commonwealth, the united states or any other state, territory, possession or country.
    section 14(a)(5) of the professional nursing law and section 16(a)(5) of the practical nurse law, 63 p.s. ß224(a)(5) and 63 p.s. ß666(a)(5), respectively.

    2 under these sections of the practice acts, the board is not required to discipline the licensee for felonies or crimes of moral turpitude, but may do so at the board's discretion. the practice acts do not define moral turpitude and there is no list specifying which crimes are ones of moral turpitude. however, the commonwealth court of pennsylvania has defined moral turpitude as ... "anything done knowingly contrary to justice, honesty, or good morals." moretti v. state board of pharmacy, 277 a.2d 516, 518 (pa. cmwlth. 1971).

    determination of whether a crime is one of moral turpitude turns on the elements of the crime as they are enumerated under the criminal statute. all crimes of which fraud is an element are looked on as involving moral turpitude.

    court decisions have held the following crimes to be crimes of moral turpitude: theft by deception, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, mail fraud, conspiracy, income tax evasion, falsifying an accident report, tampering with public records, conspiracy to distribute cocaine and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.
    the board is authorized to discipline a nurse who has been convicted of a felony or crime of moral turpitude, even if the crime was not related o the practice of nursing or was not committed while in the practice of nursing.
    1

    discipline may include revocation, suspension, probation, or public reprimand of a license.

    2

    the practical nurse law also permits the board to discipline a license where the licensed practical nurse ìhas been dishonorably discharged or has been discharged under circumstances amounting to dishonorable discharge from the military forces of the united states or of any other country.î 63 p.s. ß666(a)(5).
    the professional nursing law contains no such similar provision.


    drug crimes and automatic suspension
    if a licensee is convicted of a crime involving a controlled substance, the board has less discretion in imposing discipline. the practice acts provide for the automatic suspension of a nursing license, if the licensee has been convicted of a felony under the controlled substance, drug,

    device and cosmetic act ("drug act"), or convicted of an offense under the laws of another jurisdiction, which, if committed in pennsylvania, would be a felony under the drug act. under section 15.1 of the professional nursing law and 17.1 of the practical nurse, the board must discipline the licensee where there is a judgment, an admission of guilt or a plea of nolo contendere to a felony under the drug act. 63 p.s. ß225.1 and 63 p.s. ß667.1.
    additionally, section 23(c) of the drug act, 35 p.s. ß780-123(c), requires the board to automatically suspend the license of any practitioner, for a period not to exceed one year, if the licensee has pleaded guilty or nolo contendere or has been convicted ofa misdemeanor under the drug act. automatic suspensions under both these provisions take place without the opportunity for a hearing prior to the suspension of the nursing license. automatic suspension of a nursing license will take place regardless of whether the conviction is on appeal.
    the facts of each and every disciplinary case are different. with the exception of automatic suspensions, any disciplinary action affecting a nurse's license is taken after an opportunity for a full and fair hearing on the merits and after the boardís review of all the relevant facts. it is the responsibility of the nurse to practice in accordance with the nursing practice acts and the boardís regulations, to ascertain whether a practice is acceptable to the professional nursing community and to exercise professional judgment in the treatment of patients.

    if you do not have a current copy of the practice acts and regulation booklets for pennsylvania nurses, you may request one from the board office at (717) 783-7142; fax your request to (717) 783-0822; or e-mail the board at: nursing@pados.dos.state.pa.us.

    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Oct 6, '12
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    Here in WV, we have doctors giving out narcotics to anybody, getting DUI's, but they practice, even a racketeering conviction was overlooked, but if a nurse falls into a grey area, she is put through the mill. I really have not had a problem, but friend was accused by "ex" of forgery and went through a real bad time. Nurses are human, if lawyers, doctors, and policemen get off , why can a nurse never get a break? Moral turpitude is a wide subject to many no matter what the modern defination says. :angryfire
    MAtoBSN likes this.
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    "The Professional Nursing Law and the Practical Nurse Lawrequire that only persons with “good moral character” be licensedas registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and dietitian-nutritionists. Most of us believe that we are of goodmoral character and have never been guilty of a crime of “moral turpitude,” nor would we ever deceive the Board of Nursing."

    Only female-dominated jobs are held to this ambiguous standard, notice that? It's archaic & rooted in our history where nurses had to be unmarried, ugly/plain, live supervised in dorms & with a curfew, and stand up when male docs entered the room.

    Instead of using such unclear language, the objectionable behaviors should be listed, such as "drug use" or whatever. Yet with this catch-all language, someone with a socially questionable reputation can be labelled as having poor "moral character". So who does this include?

    I find the whole thing offensive. Morals are subjective, crimes are not. Understandably people who commit crimes do not deserve the public trust, ie. a license. Those who are law-abiding deserve the license if they jumped through the educational hoops, period.
    MAtoBSN likes this.
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    Quote from lady_jezebel
    "The Professional Nursing Law and the Practical Nurse Lawrequire that only persons with “good moral character” be licensedas registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and dietitian-nutritionists. Most of us believe that we are of goodmoral character and have never been guilty of a crime of “moral turpitude,” nor would we ever deceive the Board of Nursing."

    Only female-dominated jobs are held to this ambiguous standard, notice that? It's archaic & rooted in our history where nurses had to be unmarried, ugly/plain, live supervised in dorms & with a curfew, and stand up when male docs entered the room.

    Instead of using such unclear language, the objectionable behaviors should be listed, such as "drug use" or whatever. Yet with this catch-all language, someone with a socially questionable reputation can be labelled as having poor "moral character". So who does this include?

    I find the whole thing offensive. Morals are subjective, crimes are not. Understandably people who commit crimes do not deserve the public trust, ie. a license. Those who are law-abiding deserve the license if they jumped through the educational hoops, period.
    Well said lady jezebel.
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    A friend of mine was arrested tonight for possible DUI, can she loose her nursing license for this?
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    You're going to get bombarded with "Only your board of nursing can answer that" responses.

    And this is true, but at the same time, hopefully, you might get some insight on other people's experiences.
    All I can tell you is this:

    I know a LOT of nurses who had DUI/DWI's in their past and still have their licenses completely unrestricted.

    Not sure at what point the licensure revocation or restriction occurs. And each board may rule differently on different situations.
    I know one nurse that has two DWI's on her record, but both offenses were 10 years apart.
    I have no idea whether or not that had anything to do with it.

    Hopefully, your friend is a first time offender. Boards often refer to taking things on a case-by case basis and even they can't give you a straight answer over the phone until they have all of the facts of the individual situation.
    Again, this is why you'll get the "only your BON can answer that" responses because so much is unknown and on a case-by-case basis.

    But I have yet to hear of one nurse who completely lost their nursing license because of one DUI/DWI (that didn't result in any injury/ casualties that is).
    Maybe someone who recently had a DWI in your state can better answer your question.
    But even then, their situation and circumstances may be different from your friend.
  10. 0
    I Had a friend who was an LPN and he lost his over a DUI now I dont know if it was his first or not I just know he is no longer a nurse...
  11. 0
    here's pa's answer:

    from: pa sbon winter 2005/2006 newsletter:
    http://www.dos.state.pa.us/bpoa/lib/...nurse_2005.pdf


    the effects of a dui charge in regards to licensure
    by kevin knipe, director of the professional health monitoring program

    the professional health monitoring programs’ (phmp), voluntary recovery program (vrp) of the bureau of professional and occupational affairs (bpoa) offers confidential, voluntary treatment and monitoring of commonwealth-licensed health care professionals suffering from mental or physical impairments, including chemical dependency.
    the primary responsibility of the phmp is to protect the citizens of the commonwealth from unsafe practice by impaired licensees. this responsibility is fulfilled through the identification and referral to appropriate treatment of such licensed professionals, and the case management and monitoring of their progress in recovery.

    the majority of nurses that are referred to the vrp are done so through hospitals or health care facilities, peers orcolleagues reporting licensees that are suspected of suffering from an impairment and/or involved in the diversion of controlled substances. in the nurse board’s continued effort to identify nurses that may be suffering from an impairment that may affect their ability to safely practice, a procedure was developed for board staff to automatically forward all renewal applications to the vrp whereby licensees have reported having had a dui/dwi or underage drinking arrest and/or conviction. the rationale for referring licensees to the vrp who have had a substance-related legal problem is based on the fact that frequently incidents of this nature indicate that a person may be suffering from a substance-related disorder.

    when nurses are referred to the vrp after reporting a dui to the board on their renewal application, our office sends a letter to the licensee providing them with information regarding the vrp and what the nurse must do to be considered for enrollment. to be eligible for vrp enrollment, nurses that have had a dui must submit to a comprehensive evaluation by a vrp-approved evaluator. only those licensees that meet criteria for a substance abuse or dependence diagnosis under the diagnostic and statistical manuel of mental disorders, fourth edition (dsm-iv) would be offered the opportunity to enroll in the vrp.

    in order for an eligible nurse to be successfully enrolled in the vrp, he/she must also comply with all enrollment procedures and agree to sign a consent agreement with the nurse board to be monitored by the vrp. consent agreements are presented to the board for their approval in redacted form, with no identification of the licensee, thereby
    protecting the licensee’s confidentiality. consent agreements are usually entered into for at least three years. while in the vrp, licensees must submit to random body fluid screenings; abstain from the use of prohibited substances; comply with the recommendations made by their evaluator and/or treatment provider; submit to monitoring of their practice by a workplace monitor; and actively attend 12-step mutual help fellowships, such as alcoholics anonymous, narcotics anonymous, or other community basedsupport groups approved by the phmp.

    if a licensee declines to cooperate with the vrp’s offer to be assessed by a vrp-approved evaluator, the licensee’s vrp file is closed and the information in our possession is forwarded to the prosecution division of bpoa for further review and appropriate action. in cases where a vrp-approved evaluator concludes that a licensee does not meet criteria for a dsm-iv diagnosis, the licensee’s vrp file is closed as ineligible with a recommendation that there be no further action taken.

    the vrp recognizes that in order for our program to fulfill our primary responsibility of protecting public safety, it is imperative that licensees be referred to our office when an event occurs that indicates a person may be suffering from an impairment. therefore, if you know of a nurse that has had a substance related arrest or conviction, such as a dui, please recommend to that individual to consider calling our office to seek an evaluation.

    for further information about the vrp, please contact our office at
    (800) 554-3428 (pa residents only) or (717) 783-4857.
    [/size]
  12. 0
    It's funny that you bring up PA. That is one state in which I am somewhat familiar with their process.
    Years ago, I was working in Philadelphia and a co-worker overdosed on narcs he was injecting in the restroom while on duty.
    He was found passed out and blue in the bathroom with a needle still in his arm. He was taken to ICU and almost died.

    When he got better, he was sent to detox/rehab, completely paid for by our employer, and was given his same job back.
    The board ordered that he could not administer or handle narcs in any way and even other staff couldn't give his narcs for him. It had to be the house supervisor.

    Then he was subject to random urine screens, which occurred I believe around 2-3 times monthly if I'm not mistaken. On top of that, he had to attend regular NA meetings.

    Staying in compliance with this program, he was able to keep his license and it was eventually to be non-restricted with respect to narcs after a certain period of time but I'm not sure how long that period of time was supposed to be. Eventually though, he was not able to stay in compliance and fell off the wagon, and subsequently, lost his license. But that's a different story.

    My point here is that I would think that if a heroin addict that was shooting up while on duty caring for patients and stealing more narcs from the hospital on top of it can keep his license (if he were to have stayed in compliance with the program) then I would think that a nurse getting a DUI while not on duty would most certainly be able to keep their license as well.

    But then again, the OP is in KY and they may have a different procedure for these situations. Maybe the KY BON has similar info on their website like PA does.


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