I survived the Board of Nursing

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. Nurses Professionalism Article


Where do I begin? I have been following this site for years and it has been a source of both comfort and anxiety. The following describes my ordeal handling a complaint against my nursing 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.

There needs to be a major change in the Department of Justice; sadly there is no filter system to negate all the BS. There are several sites that show physicians and nurses going through hell and some just don't come back. It is evil and wrong, I pray that these people will one day open their eyes and realize they are screwing up an innocent persons life and those family members and friends of the wrongfully accused.

Specializes in Private Health Advisor and Writer.

This makes me want to vomit. I'm glad you survived this, but I am sure it is something you now carry with you every day. Nursing sometimes just not seem worth it.

I know this is an old post but I have a question to anyone still reading this post. I was reported to the BRN by a horrible manager notorious for eating their young. When I found out almost two months after I left the job about the investigation I immediately got a lawyer. When the details and paperwork were finally retrieved, the reasons for reporting were completely false. Including saying I had written discipline which is clear in my employment records that no such thing ever existed. People have mentioned the idea of suing the person who reported you, in this case, it was the manager through the employer. My employment records clearly show that there are false claims, however, how do you sue for defamation when the reporters are protected under law? My lawyer is convinced this case will be dropped but in the meantime, it has affected me financially and emotionally, and I would love to challenge this. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks!

Also, sorry all, but does anyone know if potential employers look into if you are under investigation? The case is still in process and being that the claims are false and minor/ no med error or adverse events, it will be most likely dropped; hopefully soon. But can this still impede employment? There is no discipline, it is just at present under review.

If what was stated in the complaint is absolutely, 100% untrue, you can sue the hospital/facility and name the manager individually in the lawsuit for defamation, slander & libel---what she wrote (and likely stated) to the BON has affected your livelihood, and this is the key point in slander/libel/defamation lawsuits. The hospital would likely deny any liability & throw the nurse under the bus, distancing itself from her actions as much as possible. This is much different than a medical malpractice lawsuit, where a facility's insurance would cover a staff member. A facility's wouldn't cover a nurse manager's actions as far as defamation, slander & libel--she'd have to hire her own attorney, pay her own legal fees & deal with the consequences of her actions. Even if she had her own malpractice insurance, it wouldn't cover something like this. "Reporters" are not protected by law when they submit a complaint to a licensing board containing untrue claims that defame someone & negatively affect their livelihood, even if they are that person's supervisor/manager. At the very least, you should sue for lost wages, potential lost wages, emotional distress, legal fees/costs and punitive damages for the manager's egregious actions that hurt your career/livelihood. At the very least, she will probably lose her job. And make sure that you notify the media about this---the public needs to be made aware that nurses are being reported by their peers/supervisors/managers with false information, resulting in the nurses losing their jobs, having to pay attorneys to fight the allegations & unnecessary emotional distress. I would also report this manager to the BON for submitting a complaint that included totally false claims & allegations, as honesty & integrity are a requirement of being a licensed nurse. I would be interested to know what that manager put in the complaint about you, and whether the complaint was made before or after you left your job. People that file false complaints, whether they are strangers, superiors, another nurse, your neighbor or ex-spouse, can be sued for making false statements that negatively affect your livelihood, especially to an administrative board.

As far as potential employers finding out about an investigation, as far as I understand, pending investigations/actions with the BON cannot be revealed or published. Only when there is action/discipline against a nurse's license can it be made public.

Thanks Diane, the complaint was submitted to the board 3 to 4 was after I left. The interesting thing is, both managers on the floor put in their notice around this time. All I know from x-coworkers is that they no longer work there. I am not sure if this is related but it’s just weird. Whatever the case I meet with the BON soon, and when this is over I will look into further action. Thank you for your input, it has restored a little hope for me.

Whether they still worked at the facility at the time the complaint was filed makes a difference. If they did not work at the facility at the time they submitted the complaint to the BON, the facility has no responsibility over them as far as "vicarious liability" and you can sue them individually. If they still worked there at the time the complaint was submitted to the BON, the facility could have vicarious liability in a lawsuit since the manager was an employee of the facility.

DO NOT MEET WITH THE BON ALONE. Make sure your attorney is with you, or someone as your representative. Record the meeting in its entirety. Do not sign anything, do not admit to anything, do not agree to a "plea" or consent agreement. If what was filed is 100% false, fight it with all you've got. Do not just "talk"---demand to see whatever documents the BON has in their possession. If they threaten you in any way, such as saying if you don't submit to a consent agreement you will have to face a hearing with the BON, make sure you record that statement or have them sign something stating the same thing. If they still want you to submit to a consent agreement, decline the offer & tell them you want to proceed to a hearing. At the hearing, the manager that submitted the complaint has to show up to testify. If they don't, the complaint that they submitted can't be accepted as legally sworn information & the BON have nothing to prosecute. The person that submits the complaint has to testify to the BON---without a witness to substantiate the statements in the complaint, whatever is in the complaint cannot be taken as fact.

If your lawyer is with you, let him/her do the talking & don't say anything. The BON wants you to implicate yourself & admit to just a teeny little thing that might be fact in the complaint so that they can proceed with a disciplinary action. If the BON was dropping the charges, they wouldn't want to meet with you---their investigation would have shown that what was in the complaint was false. They are trying to push you into a corner & get you to trip up & admit to something in the complaint. "I don't recall", "I'd have to see the records" and "I can't answer the question as asked" are great answers to questions.

Good luck.

You're right---the BON is not your friend & they attempt to get nurses to implicate ate themselves instead of having adequate evidence to prove their case. I believe it is a violation of an individual's right to due process, even though dealing with the BON is technically "administrative", to be accused of something without a shred of evidence to support the allegations. This is why BON's need an independent, unbiased & neutral organization to govern their operations instead of being "self governing". However, the BON's must change the way they handle nurses with substance abuse issues. Instead of treating their illness as a character flaw & intentional act for which they punish those nurses, not only by mandating them into a "contract" that they must comply with whether they can afford it or not, but by not humiliating & shaming them by publication of their "offenses" on a website for the entire world to see. There is no reason why a nurse's family, neighbors & friends should have access to humiliating & intimidating information that has nothing to do with them at all. I find that to be the most offensive thing of all. Your story made me smile---I like hearing about nurses that have successfully battled the BON, and won. BON's base things largely upon the fear of the nurses they are pursuing and not the actual facts of the matter.

Specializes in ED, ICU, Prehospital.
On 8/27/2016 at 9:58 AM, BeenThere2012 said:

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.

This is a civil matter--not criminal. When an accusation is made against--say---a neighbor for their dog killing your cat--they file independently and you have no rights to "discovery" or anything else they may have. They present their side and you yours.

People often get these two confused.

I have had enough of the fear factor, myself. I have had two friends tangle with them, one with some cause and the other with zero cause. One friend accused of diversion because a s#itty nurse manager with a chip on her shoulder and a craptactular hospital system (****coughfayettevillecough***) was angry because he told her that her unit basically s#cked. Three months later and $15000 in legal fees to defend---the BON dropped all charges because the hospital never showed up with evidence. Nursys had this red banner on his license for months---until he threatened to sue them as well---and they took it down. Damage done, though---he was denied employment several times directly because of it. PROVING that is hard---because they just deny they made the decision based on this misinformation.

The other girl has a reprimand on her license for over 20 years. She was placed in a truly dangerous situation with >25 psych patients all free to roam, her in the locked unit with them---and a patient attacked her. She defended herself. SHE was in the wrong they said. It's tainted everything she does.

I'm not waiting around for some yahoo to make a complaint because they don't like the timeliness of my snack delivery or lack thereof. I also work around some of the most toxic, pathological and amoral nurses and personnel---travelers are the ones going into these hell#oles and doing their best---but the places and personnel are just----the worst of the worst. I've seen travelers get canned over some secretary saying they were asked "too abruptly" for some blood draw stickers.

Yeah, no. BONs aren't your friend---but nurses aren't either. When there is this avenue to ruin someone simply because your pathology dictates that you can't just leave people alone? I'm out.

Specializes in ED, ICU, Prehospital.
On 9/23/2016 at 5:37 AM, traumaRUs said:

Another issue which has not been brought up yet is that if you are named in a suit and it does produce an award, the case will be referred to the BON and you can then have your license sanctioned in that manner also. And...your hospital, employer does not cover your expenses for this.

If you don't have your own malpractice insurance, these expenses (which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars) will come from your pocket.

And best of all (said extremely sarcastically) it can take literally years to settle a malpractice lawsuit.

And it's a sane choice to be a nurse after all of this? Every point made here in just this one thread---makes nursing the absolute worst choice for a career....ever.

Specializes in ED, ICU, Prehospital.
On 9/23/2016 at 10:11 AM, KCMnurse said:

NurseDiane, I completely agree with you, but I have to correct you - it was not an improper investigation - there was NO investigation.

The BON has your license in their hands and they use it as a bargaining chip. By the time the BON got around to letting me know that they were proceeding with the complaint I had no fight left in me. I had spent the previous months planning for the worst case scenario - losing my license, losing my livelihood, and not being able to keep a roof over my head. I had even contemplated surrendering my license just to get it all over with. I cannot even begin to explain the rollercoaster of fear and anxiety I endured for almost a year. No one should have to endure that. I felt I had no rights as I was completely at their mercy.

This whole situation has me looking over my shoulder - still. Change needs to happen, the BON's have no accountability and as such can do whatever they want to whomever - with no repercussions. Nurses are so grateful to escape with their license intact, we (or at least I) didn't have the energy to deal with them once the 'case' was closed.

BONs are part of the state government. They are not an independent agency. I'm not defending. In fact...I think they should all be disbanned.

However---they are part of the legislatures of each state. They are a revenue stream for the government.

Need I say more?

On 5/26/2019 at 6:38 PM, HomeBound said:

I'm not waiting around for some yahoo to make a complaint because they don't like the timeliness of my snack delivery or lack thereof. I also work around some of the most toxic, pathological and amoral nurses and personnel---

Pathologically toxic is one of the best descriptions I've heard in awhile. Not just catty or petty, or even jealous. Its something more, something rooted down in their DNA. I need to borrow this .