The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Can Help Protect Your Arkansas CNA License if It's in Jeopardy
Certified nurse aides (CNAs) have always been in high demand, no matter the medical field. CNAs can transition into healthcare quite quickly, provide necessary and direct care to patients and long-term residents, and have flexible work schedules. As such, they play a huge part in patient care. But this also means that these positions can be incredibly taxing and challenging. Thus, most states, including Arkansas, are committed to ensuring their CNAs are actively protecting the health and safety of their patients.
To ensure patients are protected, Arkansas takes complaints against CNAs very seriously and is quick to resolve the issue. If you are accused of misconduct, you might not know how to proceed. It is important to remember you are not alone. The attorneys on the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team understand the pressures you are facing. Call 888-535-3686 today for help.
Kansas Department of Human Services License Proceedings
In Kansas, CNAs are supervised by the Kansas Department of Human Services. This means that they oversee any CNA licensing requests, issues, or disciplinary matters. For example, if a CNA is accused of neglecting a patient after the family arrived and saw their parent sitting in their own squalor, the CNA will be referred for a disciplinary hearing. At the end of the hearing, the Department will determine which sanctions should be imposed on the CNA if they find them responsible for the alleged misconduct. Generally, sanctions include either a restriction on the license, a suspension, or revocation of their license altogether.
Having your license restricted, suspended, or revoked will impact your day-to-day life and your future. Once you've been punished, you will be unable to work as a CNA in Arkansas in the same capacity. And if you try to leave the state and get a license in another state, the punishment could affect your chances of being accepted. If you are unable to work as a CNA, you will have to start a new profession to be able to continue to take care of yourself or your family.
Unlike other states, Arkansas uses a company called D&S Diversified Technologies to direct CNAs on how to both become a CNA and stay a CNA in good standing. While these rules are accessible, they are quite hard to find and even harder to understand. This can make it difficult for CNAs to know what is required of them and how to defend themselves against accusations of misconduct.
For example, a CNA can be accused of neglect if a patient loses too much weight too quickly. But what if they never saw these regulations, and so did not know they are supposed to be monitoring the patient's weight very closely and making notes when the patient does not eat extra snacks? A skilled professional license defense attorney will know how to present a defense that combats this type of accusation.
Types of Nursing Licenses in Arkansas
There are several kinds of nursing licenses in Arkansas, including ones for Licensed Professional Nurses, Registered Nurses, and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses. However, because the CNA license is overseen by the Department of Human Services, it has vastly different requirements, including:
- Completing an Arkansas-approved CNA program, which includes at least 90 hours of education and training.
- Completing a program in another state and taking the required examination in Arkansas within one year of completing the program.
- Having an out-of-state CNA in good standing and passing the other state's nurse aide competency exam within one year of completing your training, but only if the exam is either the same examination or very similar to the Arkansas one.
- Being a Registered Nurse or Licensed Professional Nurse student who has finished basic nursing courses.
Individuals who fall into any of the categories above will be able to work in Arkansas as a CNA for up to 24 months, at which time their license will be subject to renewal. To be eligible for renewal, you have to work as a CNA performing nursing or nursing-related services for pay for at least eight consecutive hours during the previous 24 months. If you cannot show that you worked this minimum, you will not be legible for renewal and will have to pass both components of the nurse aide competency examination to regain your eligibility. Additionally, any CNA who has a misconduct restriction on their license will not be eligible for renewal. This means you will have to ensure your restriction has been lifted – and that all requirements have been completed – prior to renewal, or you may have to take the nurse aide competency examination again.
It is incredibly important to pay attention to the Nurse Aide Registry and ensure you are kept apprised of any complaints against you. You do not want to have to wait to renew your license because of a restriction on it. Furthermore, if you continue to work after your license has lapsed – whether because you did not know it had lapsed or because of a renewal issue – and the hospital or Department of Human Services finds out, you can be referred for disciplinary action and sanctioned. Essentially, if you work as a CNA without a valid license, you can lose your license, which will cause a whole host of problems for you and your future. The best way to avoid situations like this is to reach out to an attorney who is experienced in this kind of defense. They will be able to isolate the issues and create a solid defense against them, protecting your future from harm.
Nursing License Compact for Arkansas Certified Nurse Aides
In 2018, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) created the Enhanced Nursing License Compact (eNLC). This was the second iteration of the Nursing License Compact (NLC), which they created in the early 2000s. Both of these nursing license compacts were established to help nurses identify the rules and regulations that govern their licenses. Now, the eNLC also hopes to help nurses know when their licenses need to be renewed, how to fulfill the renewal, where to pay fees, and what kinds of complaints have been filed against them. In addition, this compact allows nurses to travel between states for work without having to get new licenses each time.
Sadly, there are many critics of the eNLC that believe it would prevent them from receiving additional revenue, tracking disciplinary proceedings, and impacting the growth of telemedicine and telenursing. So, as of today, only 40 states and U.S. territories have joined the eNLC.
To combat the critics, the NCSBN created an online database and notification system called Nursys. This system notifies nurses of renewal dates or complaints about their performance. It also helps states, hospitals, and other individuals review a nurse's credentials and to see if there are any complaints against them.
While eNLC and Nursys cover nursing licenses, it does not cover CNA licenses. Instead, the state in which the CNA is licensed will oversee the licensing, renewal, and disciplinary process for the CNA. In Arkansas, this registry can be found here, and unfortunately, this means that there is an opportunity for things to fall through the cracks. For instance, the state may fail to notify you of a disciplinary hearing and, when you don't show, have a mandatory sanction issued against you. The best way to contest an error like this is to have an attorney negotiate with the Department on your behalf.
Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Can Help Wherever You Are
The attorneys on the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team have a huge amount of experience helping CNAs all over the country. In Arkansas, some of the biggest hospitals and facilities they can help with include:
- Washington Regional Medical Center
- Baptist Health Medical Center – Little Rock
- CHI St. Vincent Infirmary
- Advanced Care Hospital of White County
- Arkansas Children's Hospital
- Arkansas Continued Care Hospital
- Arkansas Heart Hospital
- Baxter Regional Medical Center
- BridgeWay Hospital
- Conway Regional Medical Center
- Arkansas State Veterans Home at North Little Rock
- Arkansas Veterans Home at Fayetteville
- Legacy Heights Nursing and Rehabilitation
- The Green House Cottages of Wentworth Place
- Apple Creek Health and Rehabilitation
- Ash Flat Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center
- Concordia Nursing & Rehabilitation
- Dardanelle Nursing and Rehabilitation Center
- Good Samaritan Society – Mountain Home
- Highland Court – A Rehabilitation and Resident Care Facility
- Perry County Nursing and Rehabilitation Center
What Types of Allegations Can Put a Certified Nurse Aide License at Risk?
In Arkansas, CNAs can be restricted, suspended, or revoked for any type of misconduct. As a competent law firm with CNA clients in most states, the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team has spent years leveraging its skills and understanding to help CNAs avoid severe punishment. Some of the conduct a CNA must avoid include:
- Exploiting a patient.
- Stealing from a patient, the facility, other employees, or the patient's family.
- Neglecting a patient.
- Physically, mentally, emotionally, or sexually abusing a patient, their family, or facility staff.
- Failing to maintain patient confidentiality.
When the Department of Human Services is notified of a complaint against a CNA for one of the behaviors above, they will initiate an investigation. Additionally, they will likely prohibit the CNA from continuing to work in the facility until the matter is resolved. Unfortunately, by removing the CNA from the environment, all it really does is punish the CNA prior to being found responsible. Our attorneys will reach out to the Department on your behalf to try and negotiate with them on this removal. All accused CNAs are supposed to remain innocent until proven responsible for the alleged conduct. If you are punished before this matter can be resolved, you are being deprived of your due process rights. Call 888-535-3686 today for help.
Exemptions for Certified Nurse Aides in Arkansas
In Arkansas, if any health care professional, including CNAs, is present at the scene of an emergency or accident and believes, in good faith, that a person requires help cannot be held liable for any civil damages if their help results in an injury. Of course, this is only as long as the assistance or service does not qualify as willful misconduct or gross negligence.
This means that if a CNA is driving down the highway and notices a mother on the side of the road with a toddler who isn't breathing, the CNA cannot be held liable for damages if she gives the toddler CPR and ends up cracking one of the toddler's ribs in the process. Unfortunately, there have been cases where even in emergency situations, when a CNA or other medical professional should be covered by a Good Samaritan exemption, the CNA is still charged with some form of misconduct and forced to endure a disciplinary hearing.
The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team will reach out to the Department of Human Services and present evidence proving the exemption covers your actions, hopefully having the charges dismissed. If they are not, our attorneys will use this procedural error to help build a civil suit against the Department if requested.
What is the Disciplinary Process for Kansas Certified Nurse Aides?
While the expectations for CNAs to remain in good standing has been published, the exact regulations that govern the disciplinary process in Arkansas have not. But have no fear, the Lento Law Firm has helped hundreds of medical professionals across the country in similar situations. As such, we are confident the disciplinary process will follow a particular path, as noted below.
First, the Department of Human Services will receive a complaint against a CNA. This complaint is supposed to include a description of the incident and the name of both the complainant and the accused CNA. The Department will reach out to the complainant to conduct an informal interview where they will ask the complainant more questions about the incident. The hope is that the Department will be able to see which complaints are being made truthfully and which are being made frivolously.
Once a complaint is determined to be valid, the Department will launch a more in-depth investigation and notify the accused nurse of the matter. They will then meet with the nurse or have them respond to the accusations in writing. It is very important that you put in your best effort when it comes to the response. Working with an experienced attorney can ensure your response works towards your defense – and even potentially helps to mitigate the charges against you.
After the investigation and formal meetings with the parties, the Department will, if they believe the matter should still be pursued, identify a date and time for the hearing. Both parties must be notified once the hearing is scheduled to ensure they both have time to prepare their arguments. To be clear, you have the right to counsel during these meetings and the hearing. It is very important you work with an attorney from the moment you learn of the complaint to ensure your defense is top-notch during the hearing.
At the start of the hearing, typically, the Department will begin the proceedings by sharing the complaint. Both parties will then have a chance to present their arguments and any witness testimony and relevant evidence that might support the argument. Once both sides have been heard and had a chance to cross-examine the other side, the person overseeing the hearing will meet separately to review what was presented.
During this review, they will decide if the CNA, based on the evidence presented, is responsible for the alleged misconduct. And if so, what sanctions to impose on their license. As we explained above, sanctions usually come down to restrictions on the license, suspension, or revocation of the license. Restrictions could include anything from where the CNA can work, such as a prohibition against them working in psychiatric care facilities or nursing homes. Additional restrictions might also include the number of hours the CNA can work in a week or whether they need close supervision from an LPN, RN, or APRN.
Moreover, while suspensions only last for a certain period of time, they must be completed prior to being able to renew your license. This means that if your license is suspended for six months, but this happens three months before your renewal window opens, you will not be able to renew in time. This will force you to have to retake the competency exams after your suspension ends in order to have your license reinstated and renewed.
These are serious issues that face many CNAs across the country. They must be addressed quickly and efficiently. The only way to ensure your future prospects are protected is to get the help of a knowledgeable attorney.
Why You Need a Certified Nurse Aide License Defense Attorney in Arkansas
Unfortunately, many complaints against CNAs, or other medical professionals, come out of misunderstanding, spite, anger, or boredom. When this happens, the Department of Human Services should conclude that the complaint should be dismissed, but sometimes, they decide to adjudicate the matter despite there being no evidence. When this happens, CNAs are punished inappropriately. For example, some states stipulate that CNAs must ask questions if they are unsure how to treat a patient. Well, what happens when they believe they know how to care for the patient appropriately, provide the care, and the patient dies anyway. Should they be found responsible for providing inadequate care and lose their license?
The benefit of working with a skilled CNA license defense attorney is that when something like this happens, the attorney will work quickly to notify the Department of the mistake and hopefully have the case dismissed immediately. Moreover, if the Department refuses to dismiss the case, your attorney will know how to pursue a future suit for due process violations.
The Nature of Arkansas Department of Human Services Charges Against a Certified Nurse Aide
The decisions made by the Arkansas Department of Human Services are completely separate from ones that might be made in a civil suit or criminal trial. These types of cases are the sole responsibility of the Arkansas – and federal – court system. However, while the Department of Human Services does not have the authority to dole out criminal punishments or civil remedies, they do have the authority to refer complaints against CNAs to local and federal law enforcement.
If the Department refers a complaint to law enforcement and law enforcement believes that a law has been broken, it will be up to a judge or jury to conclude whether they believe – based on the evidence presented – that a defendant is guilty of the alleged crime. And, if so, what kind of sentence to impose on the defendant, which could include things like fines or restitution, or even probation or incarceration.
This is why it is so important to work with an attorney the moment you learn of the complaint against you. If the matter is referred to law enforcement, it is no longer just about your livelihood; now, it's about your freedom.
How Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Can Help
Becoming a CNA in Arkansas takes hard work and determination. But being accused of misconduct can derail all that effort, impacting your livelihood and preventing you from working in your field of choice.
The best thing you can do, though, is call the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense team for help. Our attorneys will work tirelessly to gather evidence and witness testimony on your behalf, helping you set up a proper defense that will guarantee the best possible outcome for your case. You do not have to suffer through these proceedings alone. You have the right to counsel; use it. Call 888-535-3686 today or schedule a consultation online.