The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Is Here to Help When Your License Is at Risk
Unlike most professional licenses, nursing licenses can be given in one state and used in another. Thus, a lot of nurses tend to work for agencies, which will place them in contract positions throughout the state of Colorado or other states (commonly called “travel nursing”). The appeal of contract positions for nurses is that they tend to pay more and allow the nurse to travel around the country, meet new people, and experience new things.
Sometimes, though, agency nurses can become a sort of target for angry co-workers, uncouth patients, and their families, or even vindictive administrators. When this happens, agency nurses are asked to leave the position, which can make getting a new contract position – or even a permanent one – very difficult.
If an agency nurse is asked to leave their current position because of supposed misconduct, they may also be referred to the state licensing board. Nurses who hold Colorado nursing licenses and who reside in Colorado on assignment can be referred to the Board of Nursing for disciplinary action. Moreover, if the agency nurse is from out of town and holds a license from another state, they will likely face punishment in their native state, as well as Colorado. This is especially true if their native state is part of the Nurse Licensure Compact.
As such, any referral to a state licensing board should not be taken lightly. Not only is your nursing license at risk of being sanctioned, but the accusations alone can also have a serious impact on your livelihood. To ensure you are fully prepared to defend your license, it is important to work with an experienced professional license defense attorney. Lento Law Firm is aware of how these accusations can affect all aspects of your life. They will work diligently to ensure you are not unnecessarily punished.
In Colorado, Lento Law Firm is proud to serve agency nurses who reside throughout the state or are traveling to the state, including those who are working in:
- Colorado Springs
- Fort Collins
- Grand Junction
- Dakota Ridge
- Highlands Ranch
- Lone Tree
- Fort Lupton
Colorado Regulations for Agency Nurses
Whether you are a licensed practical nurse, a certified nursing aid, a registered nurse, or an advanced practice registered nurse, the Colorado Board of Nursing will supervise any issues you might experience. In addition, Colorado is a member of the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC), which is an interstate agreement that permits nurses licensed in one state to practice in any other state that is a member of the compact.
As such, if an agency nurse comes to practice in Colorado from another state in the NLC, they will have an easier time gaining employment. However, this also means that the Board will not only have an easier time disciplining an agency nurse but also effortlessly disseminate their decision to other states.
To prevent this from happening, it is incredibly important to contact an experienced professional license defense attorney the moment you learn of the accusations against you. The Board will review the accusations made against you and decide if you should be punished. Lento Law Firm will ensure you have a strong defense before, during, and after these proceedings.
What Do Misconduct Charges Mean for Agency Nurses in Colorado?
Any time a nurse is accused of misconduct, it can affect their professional life. For instance, even if a nurse does not lose their license immediately after a disciplinary hearing, they will likely lose their current contract. This is because most medical facilities are concerned with their reputations rather than the nurses who help them function.
Before being punished by the Board, they must give you a chance to defend yourself. When the hearing is over, if they believe you have committed the supposed misconduct, based on the evidence presented, they will decide which sanction to impose on you and your license. Not only will the sanctions affect your reputation, but simply being accused can too. The only way to prevent this character analysis from truly hurting your ability to provide for yourself or your family is to present a solid defense, including relevant evidence and witness testimony to support it.
Are Nursing Board Proceedings Civil, Criminal, or Administrative
Colorado Board of Nursing proceedings are administrative proceedings. That is, they are neither civil nor criminal. Administrative proceedings are run by government agencies rather than judges and are supposed to hold licensed professionals accountable for their conduct.
Despite the fact that Board proceedings are administrative, they must be taken just as seriously as a court proceeding. Showing up to an administrative hearing without properly preparing can be disastrous. Not only will you have a hard time succeeding, but it could also mean being sanctioned much harsher than necessary.
The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team has vast experience helping professionals defend their licenses during administrative hearings. They will be able to leverage this knowledge to ensure the Board is not sanctioning you with punishments that are far too severe for the alleged misconduct. For instance, if you are being accused of having a physical disorder that puts patient safety at risk after recently being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, you shouldn't have your license revoked outright.
Working with Lento Law Firm ensures you are protected at all stages of the disciplinary process in Colorado.
Criminal Charges for Agency Nurses in Colorado
In some cases, the Board, the medical facility where you work, or even the complainant will refer the complaint against you to law enforcement officials. When this happens, you could end up facing both an administrative hearing in front of the Board and a criminal hearing in a regular courtroom setting concurrently. So, you would have to defend not only yourself from professional sanctions but also your physical freedom.
Lento Law Firm is versed in both administrative and criminal hearings. Because of this, they will be able to work on both your cases, ensuring a uniform – and comprehensive – defense.
Grounds for Making Misconduct Allegations Against Agency Nurses in Colorado
According to the Code of Colorado Regulations, the State Board of Nursing has the right to investigate any accusations of misconduct made against a nurse who either holds a Colorado license or is practicing in Colorado. There are several reasons why a nurse would be subjected to disciplinary action by the Board, including:
- Violating HIPAA or breaching patient confidentiality.
- Physically, mentally, emotionally, or sexually abusing a patient, their family, or a member of staff.
- Neglecting a patient.
- Failing to chart properly or making omissions on documents.
- Attempting to obtain a nursing license with fraudulent documents.
- Financially or fraudulently abusing patients.
- Abusing drugs or alcohol, especially while working.
- Failing to follow standard nursing practices.
- Failing to notify the Board of any mental or physical conditions that may affect your ability to practice.
- Being convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors.
Essentially, the Board can impose sanctions on your license for any actions or behaviors that make reasonable people question your abilities.
The Disciplinary Process for Agency Nurses in Colorado
To initiate the disciplinary process, a complaint is first made to the Board. Then, the Board will review the complaint and see if the matter falls within their purview. If it does, they will follow a series of steps to determine if the agency nurse is responsible for the accused behavior and, if so, what sanctions to impose to prevent the nurse from continuing the behavior.
Sadly, when agency nurses are accused of misconduct, the medical facility where they work will likely let them go. This may force the agency to terminate the working relationship and prevent the nurse from continuing to work in Colorado – or from traveling with any other agency. It may also give false accusers the confidence to continue making complaints whenever they feel they have been wronged in some way.
The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team will contact the Board on your behalf prior to the investigation to see if the matter can be straightened up without a formal hearing. If the matter must go to the hearing stage, Lento Law Firm will ensure the Board follows its procedures accordingly and that there is no bias or irregularity in the adjudication process.
Once the complaint is made and the Board believes it falls within the scope of their powers, they will initiate an investigation. The investigator will interview the complainant, the agency nurse, and any other relevant witnesses who may be able to shed light on the issue.
When the investigation is complete, they will deliver their report and their conclusion to the Board. The investigator may suggest the complaint be dismissed or examined further in a disciplinary hearing. They also have the power to have the nurse submit to physical or mental testing in furtherance of the investigation report.
License and Disciplinary Hearings
There are cases where the Board will review the investigator's report and decide to dismiss the charges against the agency nurse. For this to happen, the Board must see that the complaint is invalid or the conduct is so insignificant it should be settled outside of the hearing. But for most cases, the investigator's report will launch the formal hearing.
The formal hearing allows both the complainant and the agency nurse to present arguments, which include evidence and witness testimony. In the end, the Board will assess the arguments and conclude whether the agency nurse is responsible for the accused misconduct, or if they are not, and the complaint should be dismissed.
When the Board decides an agency nurse is responsible, they will also determine which sanction to impose. Sanctions are supposed to match the severity of the misconduct and will range from a formal reprimand to suspension or revocation.
How to Defend Against Agency Nursing License Allegations in Colorado
When you are notified of an accusation made against you, you must start working on your defense immediately. Lento Law Firm will review your case and help you figure out what to do next. Usually, the plan will include:
- Prepping for the investigator's interview.
- Supporting you during the investigator's interview by not only being present but also helping you know when to answer the interviewer's questions and when to object to the line of questioning.
- Collecting relevant documents and evidence to present during the interviews or at the hearing.
- Pinpointing and interviewing witnesses.
- Building a strong defense to deliver at the hearing.
The nature of your case will determine which defenses are available to you. For example, agency nurses who are accused of falsifying patient records can present evidence showing they did not work with that patient, someone else was in charge of their chart, or the handwriting on the chart or record does not match the nurse's.
In cases where the agency nurse did commit some sort of misconduct, your attorney will advise you on how to best admit the conduct to the Board. They will also help you draft a statement explaining what happened in such a way as to hopefully inhibit the Board from punishing you too severely.
Possible Outcomes for Agency Nursing License Hearings in Colorado
The Colorado Board of Nursing has the power to impose different sanctions on nurses it decides have violated their rules. Typical sanctions include:
- Fines. A monetary penalty that is usually reserved for less serious offenses.
- Alternative-to-discipline plan. When the issue involves drugs or alcohol abuse, the Board may refer the nurse to a treatment facility and/or require their rehabilitation to be monitored closely. Nurses in these programs will likely have to submit to random drug testing if they want to continue practicing.
- Education. If the conduct at issue revolves around a nurse's education, capabilities, or training, the Board may require them to take certain courses or training programs to improve their skills. They may also require that the nurse be supervised while they work.
- Reprimand. An official letter of reprimand is a warning that the conduct is not okay and should be ceased immediately. It will also go into the nurse's official public record.
- Restriction. If a nurse is allowed to continue working, the Board may limit their license in some way. For instance, they may be prohibited from working after 5 pm, prevented from working with a certain population of patients, or have to be supervised while performing specific procedures.
- Suspension. When a nurse has their license suspended in Colorado, it means they cannot practice nursing in the state for a specific period. Moreover, because Colorado is part of the NLC, it also means they cannot practice in any other state during the suspension.
- Revocation. Usually, a nursing license will only be revoked in Colorado for very egregious misconduct, or ongoing issues that have been disciplined before and have not abated. If Colorado revokes your license, you will not be able to work within the state. You may also not be able to get a license in any other state, especially other NLC states, as the revocation will be recorded in the NLC database.
No matter which sanctions the Board decides to impose, it will impact your entire life.
License Revocation and Criminal Charges
There are cases, as we explained above, where nurses can face both a Board disciplinary hearing and a criminal hearing at the same time. Most of the time, these cases will involve the same facts and complaints, but sometimes, you could be facing unconnected charges. Even if the misconduct accusations and the criminal charges involve different incidents, the criminal case can still affect your nursing license.
For example, if you are charged with assault in Colorado, even if it does not involve your work as an agency nurse, the Board will probably be notified of it. Since assault involves intentionally putting someone in fear of being harmed, the Board may decide to explore your relationships with your patients, colleagues, or employers to see if you are behaving similarly with them. If they determine that you are putting any of the people around you at work in fear of being harmed, they can bring you before them for disciplinary action.
This is why it is so important that you reach out to a qualified professional license defense attorney the moment you learn of any legal matter. Lento Law Firm will be able to help you defend yourself in court and in front of the Board.
Appealing a Nursing License Suspension or Revocation in Colorado
After you have had a chance to present your defense in front of the Board, they will convene privately to review the evidence and witness testimony that was presented by both sides. If they believe, based on the evidence presented, that you are responsible for the accused misconduct, they will notify you of your right to appeal and exactly how many days you have to make that appeal.
Appeals can be overwhelming, especially after having completed the initial investigation interviews and hearing process. Your anxiety may be clouding your ability to present a cohesive appeal. To help alleviate this stress, the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team will determine the best way to file your appeal.
Applying for a New Nursing License in Colorado
If your Colorado nursing license is revoked while you are working with an agency in the state, or another state, you may qualify to have it reinstated. However, the process is more complicated than when you decided to apply for your license, or even if you were trying to reinstate one that had lapsed.
To apply for reinstatement, you must prove to the Board that you deserve it, including presenting evidence and testimony that supports that assertion. Furthermore, just because you submit the request for reinstatement, it doesn't mean the Board will necessarily approve it. Working with an attorney during this time is a great way to ensure the Board not only hears you out but that you are providing the correct information to encourage them to approve it.
Your Career Is on the Line
Nursing is an incredibly complex profession. Not only are you required to be fluent in medical terminology and procedures, but you are also expected to work extensive hours as a doctor's right hand while providing safe and effective care for dozens of patients a day. Even just graduating as a nurse is an incredible fete. The prerequisites, exhausting exams, and licensing process are not for the faint of heart. For those who end up working with an agency, either as a travel nurse or in contracted positions, the fast-paced environment can also be quite overstimulating, leading to more issues down the line.
You have worked so hard to get to where you are, and any accusation, no matter how slight or small, can destroy your personal and professional lives. For example, if you are forced before the Board for disciplinary action and receive a formal reprimand, it will still be recorded on your permanent nursing file. So, anytime you start a new contract, the incoming facility or employer will learn about the issue, potentially causing them to place you on instant probation so they can keep an eye on you.
Working with a professional license defense attorney is the only way to mitigate these unforgiving consequences.
How the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Can Help
Many agency nurses might be tempted to represent themselves during Board investigations and disciplinary hearings; however, they are rarely successful. When you hire the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team, you know you can show up to these meetings feeling fully prepared, aware of the next steps, and how to overcome the obstacles the Board will place before you.
Having competent counsel by your side, guiding you through every step, provides you with the peace of mind you can't get if you were to attend these proceedings on your own. Call 888-535-3686 today or schedule a consultation online.