Co-worker Impersonating a Nurse - Am I obligated to report this to the BON?


  1. Dear Lorie

    I suspect a co-worker is impersonating a nurse. He was hired as a medical assistant, but recently states he has obtained RN licensure, although this is not supported by the state BON verification link. His job duties have not changed from that of medical assistant; however, he now identifies himself as an RN to patients, staff, other offices, etc. I have been wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt as I hate to be wrong about something like this, but it seems increasingly evident his story does not check out. When confronted about it, he becomes defensive and deflects. Am I obligated to report this to the BON?



    Dear Obligated,

    If it were me, I would check the state's Nurse Practice Act to see under which circumstances I would have an affirmative duty to report a nurse to the Board for practicing without a license. You can also check Nursys(R) to see if that person is licensed.

    Good luck with this,

    Lorie
    Last edit by Lorie Brown RN, MN, JD on Oct 14
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    About Lorie Brown RN, MN, JD

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    11 Comments

  3. by   twinsmom788
    Do the both of you work in the same office? Has he ever talked about going to school or taking the NCLEX? If he says he has just "suddenly" become an RN, I would wonder myself.

    I definitely would ask his supervisor about his new status. He is breaking the law if he is practicing nursing without a license. I would call the BON about this. If this office provides Medicare services, heavy fines may result as well.

    Also, just because his name doesn't show up on the Board's website, does not offer absolute proof that he is not an RN. Sometimes, my name didn't show up on the website and I worked for the Board!
  4. by   Tommy5677
    I believe you are obligated to report it to the board based solely on the fact that you are suspicious. It is of no consequence to you if you are wrong. If you report it it's the boards responsibility to investigate. If he is a RN no problem. If not, he's in serious trouble. It's not your responsibility to decide if he is or isn't to report him to the board. For this to come back on you I believe he would have to prove malice and that would be a huge challenge and expensive. This is all an opinion but I would advise you to just call the board itself to find out what your obligations are.
  5. by   SpankedInPittsburgh
    I don't know what to tell you. It seems to me that its your employers responsibility to police such matters. I wouldn't touch this. If you are right then you have encountered a wacko impersonating a nurse. If you ID him and he is punished then you have a wacko with a blood feud against you and yours. If you are wrong then you look like a wacko for playing license cop when it is not your responsibility to do so.
  6. by   Katillac
    I can't find a single reference to it being illegal to say you are a nurse when you aren't - as long as you don't attempt to practice like one. Additionally, every BON site I've looked at at the most prohibits one from practicing as a nurse when you aren't one - but you say this person's duties haven't changed from when he was saying he was a MA. None of the NPA's I've looked at have anything about a duty to report an unlicensed liar. If he's not really a nurse, the BON can't take action against him anyway so why would you think of reporting, much less have a duty to report?
    Access to this page has been denied.
  7. by   Chrispy11
    Maybe run it up the HR flag pole...
  8. by   twinsmom788
    RE: State of Tennessee Nurse Practice Act:

    63-7-120. Violations and penalties. -
    (a) It is a Class B misdemeanor for any person, corporation or association to:
    (1) Sell or fraudulently obtain or furnish any nursing diploma, license or record, or aid or abet therein;
    (2) Practice nursing as defined by this chapter under cover of any diploma, license or record illegally or fraudulently
    obtained or assigned or issued unlawfully or under fraudulent representation;
    (3) Practice nursing as defined by this chapter unless duly licensed to do so under the provisions of this chapter;
    (4) Use in connection with the person's name any designation tending to imply that the person is a registered nurse or
    a licensed practical nurse unless duly licensed so to practice under the provisions of this chapter;
    (7) Otherwise violate any provisions of this chapter.
    (b) Legal procedure in prosecution of violations of this section shall be in accordance with general statutes.
    [Acts 1967, ch. 78, § 29; 1976, ch. 501, § 11; T.C.A., § 63-757; Acts 1989, ch. 591, § 112.]

    From quick review I cannot find a statement that requires some one to contact the BON to report a questionable practioner in the state of which I'm most familar. However, if this person harms a patient by an act after claiming he is an RN, there will be an investigation.

    We frequently got calls at the BON about MA overstepping their bounds. If the physican takes responsibity for an MA, he/she can do any prodecure as the physician will being liable for the practice. If this person is now presenting themselves as an RN, then the employee must adhere to the nurse practice act.

    You are most probably not obligated to take a stand against illegal nursing practice, if true, but IMHO, why would you not want to protect your patients and your profession...makes me wonder what has happened to ethics, personal and professional responsibility. Flame away....
    Last edit by twinsmom788 on Sep 24 : Reason: additional thoughts
  9. by   Kooky Korky
    Quote from Katillac
    I can't find a single reference to it being illegal to say you are a nurse when you aren't - as long as you don't attempt to practice like one. Additionally, every BON site I've looked at at the most prohibits one from practicing as a nurse when you aren't one - but you say this person's duties haven't changed from when he was saying he was a MA. None of the NPA's I've looked at have anything about a duty to report an unlicensed liar. If he's not really a nurse, the BON can't take action against him anyway so why would you think of reporting, much less have a duty to report?
    Access to this page has been denied.
    I don't know where you looked and you might even be right, given the insane world we live in.

    If someone told me he was a nurse, I'd want to know what type and other things, just to make conversation mostly - where did you go to school, have you done other types of nursing, whatever.

    Saying one is a nurse when one is not is just plain wrong to me. Then again, I'm simple folk.

    But I think if I were on the Board, I'd be interested in who's calling himself a nurse but isn't licensed as one. I will check my own state's NPA just for my own head.

    Since you don't recommend reporting him to the Board, what do you recommend?
  10. by   rn_patrick
    Everywhere I have worked the facility has done extensive due diligence in checking that I actually have the licenses and background I say I do. Copies of diplomas, licenses, verification with the State and so forth. These have all been for Hospitals, a few agencies, and one corporate nursing home.

    I'm wondering if the OP works for a big organization or maybe a little single owner nursing home. I did some consulting for one a couple years ago. Always behind on their various regulatory paperwork, and eventually they shut down. It's possible someone could slip through the cracks.

    I'd also wonder if anyone knew they were a nursing student? Everywhere I have worked before I was an RN and then after you knew who the RN students were because they talked about clinical, or they were studying on break, or they were asking the RN's about test questions. We all have been there on this board.

    If they have the social skills to softly ask those "So where did you go..." then that can be an approach. I don't. Plus if the person is truly lying then you have put them on guard and again they could feud against you.

    I will also mention it can take a while for the board to update the online registry in some states.

    I'll echo what several people here have said. If this person makes the accusation and they are wrong, that person is going to have a feud on their hands. If management is the "Mind your own business and don't rock the boat..." then it can be against you. Again hoping management is vigilant.
  11. by   Katillac
    Since you don't recommend reporting him to the Board, what do you recommend?
    Sorry, I missed this until now! I'd recommend the OP report him to management. Someone misrepresenting themselves as an RN to patients, staff and other agencies is a risk to everyone involved.
    Last edit by Katillac on Oct 30 : Reason: Forgot to quote
  12. by   TriciaJ
    I second the suggestion of calling the Board yourself. Ask a live person if you have an obligation to report a suspected imposter. Then report him. Like a previous poster said, if he's an RN, fine. If he's not, then the Board will take whatever action they will take. I would NOT ask this person about nursing school or anything else. He doesn't need to know it was you who reported him. If he's identifying himself to patients as an RN then any patient could have reported him. Unless you know your management is sensible and proactive, I would not bother with them, either. They're just as likely to frontstreet you and do nothing about the imposter in their midst.

    There is a problem with MAs identifying themselves as nurses. I want to know, since they're willing to commit fraud anyway, why don't they go the whole hog and start calling themselves doctors?
  13. by   SURGICALNURSE2NPORMD
    Most states it is illegal to say you are a nurse when you are not.

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