Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Defense in South Carolina

Being licensed as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) isn't easy – if you hold a CRNA license in South Carolina, you know that already. In addition to meeting the requirements to become a licensed registered nurse, you've received advanced levels of education and training and have taken rigorous certification exams to enable you to qualify for your CRNA license. That's why if your license is threatened by a disciplinary investigation or proceeding, you should contact the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team for help. Our experienced attorneys can represent you throughout what can be an extended and nerve-wracking process, helping you make sure your rights are protected throughout. Call us today at 888.535.3686, or use our contact form to learn more about how we can help.  

In South Carolina, nursing licenses and discipline are administered by the South Carolina Board of Nursing (BON). When a complaint is filed against a nurse, CRNA or otherwise, it's the BON that reviews it and, where appropriate, conducts an investigation into the allegations. If a complaint is filed against you and the BON decides to take disciplinary action against you, you need to take it seriously. Depending on the allegations, your license, your reputation, and your ability to earn a living can be seriously threatened by a BON disciplinary proceeding. Working with an experienced professional license defense attorney is the best way for you to protect your license in this kind of difficult situation.  

Ways the South Carolina Board of Nursing Can Discipline CRNAs 

The South Carolina BON will investigate complaints filed against CRNAs. Most complaints are filed by employers, though they can come from patients, family members of patients, co-workers, or anyone who has information that they believe may support a claim that you've committed some form of misconduct as a CRNA. Complaints can be filed through the BON website.  

Once a complaint is filed, it will be investigated by the BON to determine whether it covers matters that the Board has the authority to act on. Not all employment-related matters are ones that the BON regulates; for example, being rude to your co-workers or showing up late for work won't, in most cases, support a BON investigation. The focus of the initial review is to determine whether the complaint describes what might be a violation of South Carolina's Nurse Practice Act. If it does, the BON will assign it to an investigator.  

You'll be notified within 30 days of when the complaint is assigned to the investigator that you're under investigation. You'll have a chance to respond to the complaint at this time; it's also an excellent point for you to contact the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team to discuss the complaint and to learn more about how our experienced attorneys can help you even at this early, but critical, stage of the disciplinary process.  

Investigations can take some time, as much as six months or more. You may be interviewed by the BON investigator as part of the process; your employer, co-workers, and others (including patients and their family members) may also be interviewed. The BON may secure records from your employer that may be relevant to the alleged misconduct.  

When the investigation is complete, the BON will review the results during what's called an Investigation Review Conference. The outcome of this review will be a recommendation to the BON about whether or not to bring disciplinary proceedings against you. The BON will review and act on the recommendation at its next meeting.  

The South Carolina BON has a number of disciplinary options when considering whether to bring misconduct charges against a CRNA. If misconduct is established, how the BON reacts can depend greatly on its interactions with the CRNA during the investigation and disciplinary process. This is where working with an experienced professional license defense attorney, someone who is able to interact with the BON in a respectful way while still protecting your rights, can make a difference. Types of BON discipline include the following:  

  • Letter of Caution. Depending on the circumstances, a Letter of Caution may or may not qualify as official discipline. When the letter notes that no misconduct has occurred, it's not considered a disciplinary action. When the letter describes minor misconduct, it is considered a disciplinary action.  
  • Private Reprimand. The BON may choose to issue a Private Reprimand in cases where it also decides that the violation of the Nursing Practice Act that occurred should remain confidential. Private reprimands will not appear on your public license profile and won't be published by the BON.  
  • Public Reprimand. This is the public version of a Private Reprimand and will appear on your public license record. It generally will not affect your license, and you can legally continue to practice as a CRNA after the Public Reprimand has been issued.  
  • Probation. The BON may place you on probation for violation of more serious aspects of the Nursing Practice Act. You'll generally be allowed to continue to practice as a CRNA but must meet certain terms and conditions imposed on your practice by the BON. You may also be restricted from some aspects of your practice until you meet conditions defined by the BON.  
  • Suspension. If the BON imposes a suspension on you, you'll be prevented from practicing as a CRNA for the duration of the suspension period. You may also have to meet certain conditions, such as completing particular nursing education programs, before your CRNA license will be restored.  
  • Revocation. The BON may revoke your license in the most serious of cases. The Board may specifically allow you to reapply for a new license after a certain period of time, typically years, or it may permanently prohibit you from reapplying.  

In situations where a CRNA is reported to the BON for working while impaired (whether because of alcohol or drugs), the BON may require the CRNA to participate in South Carolina's Recovering Professionals Program (RPP) as a condition of probation or suspension. The RPP provides healthcare professionals with support services designed to help nurses and others find and enroll in treatment for substance abuse or mental health issues.   

In most cases, discipline is a matter of public record and can be accessed by a search on South Carolina's Licensee Lookup Page. The BON also makes its disciplinary orders public on a regular basis.  

What Standards Does South Carolina Expect CRNAs to Uphold?  

South Carolina has adopted the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics. All licensed nurses, including CRNAs, in South Carolina are expected to follow this code. It includes guidelines for a wide range of nursing behaviors and patient interaction, including:  

  • Respecting patients and their rights 
  • Maintaining proper boundaries between the nurse and the patient, and between the nurse and their colleagues 
  • Protecting patient privacy and confidentiality  
  • Respecting the patient's right to self-determination 
  • Avoiding conflicts of interest that can affect patient care 
  • Collaborating with colleagues when caring for the patient 
  • Not discriminating against any patient when providing nursing care  

In addition, CRNAs and other nurses are expected to follow the requirements of South Carolina's Nurse Practice Act and can be disciplined for their failure to do so.  

Grounds for CRNA Discipline in South Carolina 

The South Carolina Nurse Practice Act lists at least 29 different grounds for disciplining a licensed nurse. These include:  

  • Violating patient confidentiality rights 
  • Working while under the influence of alcohol or drugs 
  • Falsifying or improperly altering patient or employer records 
  • Taking money, property, or medication from a patient or an employer 
  • Fraudulently claiming to have provided services that weren't provided 
  • Improperly administering or prescribing drugs 
  • Failing to keep accurate care records 
  • Abandoning a patient without reasonable notice 
  • Being convicted of a felony or a crime involving drugs or “moral turpitude” 
  • Failing to report violations committed by other nursing professionals 

As explained above, if a complaint is filed against you and the BON begins a formal investigation, you'll be notified of the allegations and that the investigation is proceeding. This is when it can be very helpful to be working with an experienced professional license defense attorney from the Lento Law Firm. We'll help you understand the charges against you and can represent you in your communications with the BON investigator, including during any interview sessions. We know the laws, rules, and procedures that apply to BON investigations and will help make sure that your rights are respected throughout the process and that much of the burden of dealing with the investigation is off of your shoulders.  

Don't Assume the Truth Will Protect You from CRNA License Sanctions in South Carolina 

You might think that a misconduct allegation filed against you is the result of a misunderstanding that can be cleared up with a quick phone call or meeting with the BON investigator. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. BON investigations are governed by state law, and there really are no shortcuts. In fact, reaching out to a BON investigator on your own may backfire; the phone call you hope will clear things up might instead provide the investigator with additional information that they may try to use against you, or it could be construed as you attempting to interfere with the investigation.  

Working with experienced counsel from the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team can help reduce the likelihood of any of this happening. We are familiar with the investigation process, having helped nurses and other professionals who were under investigation for misconduct. We'll make sure that if you do have information that could clear your name, it's presented to the investigator at an appropriate time and in a clear way that will reduce the possibility of it being misunderstood. By letting us be the communications channel with the BON investigator, you get to take advantage of our experience in helping other license holders protect their rights.  

When it comes time for an interview with a BON investigator, we'll help you prepare for what to expect so that you can focus on making sure you provide clear and accurate answers to understandable questions. Where the investigator asks an unclear question, we can ask that it be restated or clarified before you answer it. And if your answer is unclear, we can help you make sure you clarify it so that it's not misconstrued. Because you're not likely to benefit from an unclear question or an unclear answer, we work to make sure that neither situation occurs. 

The Disciplinary Process After the Investigation 

After the BON investigator completes their work, the Board will decide whether to bring a formal complaint against you. If it does so, you'll be notified of the disciplinary action that the BON intends to take against you and the reasons for that proposed action. If that happens, you can expect the process to include the following steps:  

  • Formal Complaint. The formal complaint will describe the misconduct charges that the BON is bringing and will identify the laws that the charges are based on. You'll receive a copy.  
  • Consent Agreement. In many cases, the BON will provide you with a proposed consent agreement. You'll be asked to agree to a certain set of facts and to accept a sanction proposed by the BON. If you agree, the disciplinary process will end here, and the terms of the consent agreement will be applied to your license. This is one area where working with an experienced license defense counsel can really help. Whether to accept a consent order, to try to negotiate for better terms, or to move forward with a disciplinary hearing is one of the most important decisions you'll have to make as a professional. We can help you understand your options and come to the best decision for your particular situation.  
  • Hearing. If you reject a proposed consent agreement (or one is never offered), you'll proceed to the hearing stage. CRNA disciplinary hearings are conducted according to South Carolina's Administrative Procedures Act and will take place before the Board of Nursing. It will proceed much like other court proceedings; an attorney from the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation will represent the BON, and you have the right to have an attorney representing you. The BON will present its evidence (witnesses and documents) first; your attorney will be able to cross-examine and argue against allowing documents into evidence, where appropriate. Then, you'll have a chance to present your own evidence. After both sides are done, the Board will either rule immediately or adjourn the hearing and rule at a later date.  
  • Final Order. The Board will issue a final order based on the evidence introduced at the hearing. If it finds you've committed misconduct, it will detail the facts and law supporting its determination. Alternatively, it could dismiss the complaint against you. 
  • Appeal. If the Board rules against you, you may be able to appeal to the Administrative Law Court. In such a case, your attorney can help you evaluate the grounds for appeal and draft and file one within the 30-day time limit set by law.  

What Happens if You're Disciplined by the South Carolina Board of Nursing?  

As explained above, most disciplinary actions taken by the BON are made public. The BON will publish the disciplinary decision on its website, and the information will also be available to the public on the BON's Licensee Lookup page. If your CRNA license is suspended, you'll have to immediately stop working in that field until the suspension is lifted, and if you're required to take any courses or do anything else before the license can be reinstated, you'll need to take those steps.  

How the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Can Help 

Whether you work in Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, one of South Carolina's beach communities, or elsewhere in the state, the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team can help you protect your CRNA license. We have helped CRNAs and nurses all over the country who are facing serious disciplinary allegations, and our experienced attorneys understand the laws, rules, and procedures that apply in South Carolina BON disciplinary proceedings. We can help at any stage: investigation, negotiation, hearing, and even appeal.  

We'll help you understand the charges made against you, can investigate them on your behalf, will interface with the BON investigators and attorneys, and will forcefully defend you in any hearing that may take place. Let us take some of the burden off of your shoulders; if a misconduct complaint has been filed against you, contact us at 888.535.3686 or use our contact form to set up a confidential consultation.    


Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are committed to answering your questions about Physician License Defense, Nursing License Defense, Pharmacist License Defense, Psychologist and Psychiatrist License Defense, Dental License Defense, Chiropractic License Defense, Real Estate License Defense, Professional Counseling License Defense, and Other Professional Licenses law issues nationwide.
The Lento Law Firm will gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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