Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) have brought access to a broad range of medical procedures to Minnesota, especially in rural and underserved areas. CRNAs administer anesthesia and keep patients comfortable and pain-free during surgeries and medical procedures. CRNAs are particularly important in rural areas and struggling facilities, as they bring cost-effective services to these facilities. CRNAs are experienced in patient care, with the AANA estimating that graduates of CRNA programs have an average of over 9,000 hours of clinical experience. But each year, some CRNAs face accusations of abuse, unprofessional behavior, or misconduct, and these allegations put their licenses and all those hours of training and work at risk.
CRNAs in Minnesota are most likely to face allegations of the following:
- Alcohol or drug issues.
- Criminal convictions.
- Disciplinary actions in other states.
- Patient abuse or neglect.
- Other, including child support or tax issues.
If you are a CRNA in Minnesota facing a challenge to your license, you need the experienced team at the Lento Law Firm. The Lento Law Firm are some of the most experienced attorneys in medical license defense in the country and have represented many nurses, including advanced practice nurses. The earlier in the process that the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team is involved, the better. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 or provide your details online, and we will contact you.
Minnesota Board of Nursing Discipline Powers
The Minnesota Board of Nursing (BON or the Board) handles all licensure issues for CRNAs in Minnesota and oversees all discipline issues. The Board has wide latitude to take action against a nurse or advanced practice nurse.
Disciplinary Actions by the Board
The Board may take the following disciplinary actions against a CRNA:
- may be combined with a fine.
- Limitations on license.
- Board may limit the scope of a CRNA's practice. This might involve enhanced supervision or limits on access to controlled substances.
- Conditional license.
- Board may require a CRNA to complete particular tasks or training in order to retain their license.
- Board may prohibit a CRNA from practicing for a period of time.
- Board may rescind the license of the CRNA.
The Board may also take the following Administrative Remedies:
- Stipulation to cease practicing.
- CRNA may agree not to practice for a period of time, often during the pendency of a serious investigation.
- Agreement for corrective action.
- CRNA may agree to take corrective action or measures, and the Complaint is dismissed.
Nurse License Compact (NLC)
Minnesota is not a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which requires approval by the legislature.
This database allows the user to look up a nurses' disciplinary history. While Minnesota is not a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact, it does report disciplinary actions into Nursys. Other states may make decisions based on information contained in the Nursys database from Minnesota.
Please Note: Like any database, Nursys contains errors. If you are having issues with false information on Nursys, call the Lento Law Firm. We can help with these issues.
Other National Databases
Advanced Practice Nurses, such as CRNAs, are much more likely than other nurses to be placed in the National Practitioner Database, which records disciplinary actions and malpractice actions against medical providers.
With regard to all these databases, charges that originate in Minnesota are likely to affect your licensure in most other states. It is not possible to agree to or ignore charges in Minnesota and move your practice to another state. Charges that originate in Minnesota may follow you to other states indefinitely, not to mention the effect they may have on malpractice coverage. With the advent of national databases, advanced practice nurses have no choice but to fight charges when and where they arise.
Grounds for Sanctions in Minnesota
In Minnesota, the following are possible grounds for sanctions:
- Fraud or misrepresentation in the nursing application.
- Fraud or other violations while taking nursing exams.
- Disciplinary action against a nursing license by another state.
- Failure to meet minimum standards of practice.
- Failure to treat patient safely because of illness, drug or alcohol use, or mental condition.
- Judicial finding of CRNA as mentally ill, chemically dependent, or dangerous.
- Acting unethically to patient, including fraud and disregard for health of patient.
- Having sexual contact with a patient.
- Financial exploitation of a patient.
- Failure to maintain confidentiality.
- Fraud in billing, including Medicare fraud.
- Failure to maintain medical records.
- Allowing unlicensed person to treat patients.
- Aiding or assisting suicide.
- False advertising.
- Practicing without an active and current license.
- Failure to report employment to the Board.
In Minnesota, there are dual complaint processes, depending on whether the CRNA and the Board are able to agree on the outcome of the case. If settlement is successful, the process will generally end at Step Three. If the parties cannot agree, the case will proceed to a hearing and possible appeal.
Step One: The Complaint
Anyone may file a complaint against a CRNA in Minnesota, but most complaints are filed by patients, colleagues, or former employers. After receipt, the Complaint is reviewed by the Complaint Review Unit or CRU. The majority of complaints are dismissed at this step. In order for the Board to exercise jurisdiction, the complaint must set forth a violation of the Nursing Practice Act. If the CRU does not find a likely violation, it will dismiss the complaint.
Step Two: Investigation
If the CRU does find a potential violation, the complaint will proceed to investigation. The Minnesota Board treats those complaints it deems unlikely to end with discipline differently, however, at this stage. In that event, the Board will send an Inquiry Letter to the nurse in question, asking for their version of events. At this stage, many complaints are dismissed.
After an investigation, the CRU again reviews the file. If the CRU believes that the issue warrants further action, it will send a Notice of Conference to the CRNA. This Notice will set forth the allegations against the CRNA and ask for a written Response. The Notice will also set a Review Conference before a Board Panel.
This response should be made in writing in advance and is vitally important. The Board may still decide to dismiss the complaint based on your response. When complaints are dismissed in this way in Minnesota, no mention of the complaint will remain in the CRNA's record.
Before you respond to a complaint, get an experienced attorney to assist you. The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team can help you formulate your Response to the allegations and give you the best chance of dismissal early in the process. The Conference will generally be set for 90 minutes, which is not adequate time to give your Response verbally and negotiate. Make sure your Response is done in writing beforehand.
Step Three: Settlement Discussions
The Board will engage in discussion of settlement and consent orders at the Review Conference and may set further Settlement Conferences. The Administrative Order that may come out of this process is legally binding if the CRNA agrees to it in writing. This negotiated settlement may involve a consent order or an agreement that the CRNA will undergo certain conditions, such as drug or alcohol evaluation or treatment or probation and monitoring. As a condition of settlement, the CRNA must admit to allegations and agree to accept penalties.
At this stage of negotiation, it is vitally important to have counsel. Your attorney will be able to advise you on whether you should accept a negotiated settlement or sign a consent order. With experienced counsel, you won't have lingering questions on whether your consent order was in your best interests. But please note that consent orders and other stipulated settlement agreements are reported to Nursys.
If the parties are unable to agree to a settlement, the matter will proceed to a hearing.
Step Four: Formal Hearing
In Minnesota, hearings are held before an Administrative Law Judge, (ALJ), who will issue a recommendation to the Board. The Board will generally adopt the ALJs Findings and Conclusions and will propose action based on them.
The Hearing will appear very much like an informal trial, with the parties making opening statements and presenting evidence. Your attorney will call and examine witnesses and will cross-examine witnesses presented by the Board.
Step Five: Appeal
The CRNA has the right to appeal the Board's decision to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
Step Six: Compliance
Depending on the nature of the settlement or the Board's decision, you may have to submit to ongoing oversight of your compliance with the Board's order.
Surrendering a License
If you are considering voluntarily surrendering your license, please contact the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team first. CRNAs may hope that they will be able to practice in another state in which they hold a license, or they may wish to avoid the embarrassment of a public hearing. But voluntary surrender when facing accusations is generally not the best choice for nurses for two reasons:
- A voluntary surrender must be reported to Nursys. It is likely that other states in which you are licensed will become aware of the surrender of your license in Minnesota.
- There is a good chance the voluntary surrender of your license in the face of charges will be reported to the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) List of Excluded Individuals. This will prevent the CRNA from working at any facility that receives Medicare or Medicaid funding. This limitation will effectively exclude the listee from working in almost any healthcare facility in any capacity.
Whatever you have been accused of, the Lento Law Firm Team can put together a defense. Do not give up the license you worked so hard to achieve—call us, and we can help.
Initial Denial of License or Remediation of CRNA Training
While this article emphasized the defense of a current CRNA license in Minnesota, the Lento Law Firm also represents those denied initial licensure as CRNAs and those who face remediation during CRNA training. If you are facing hurdles during your CRNA training or initial licensure, call the Lento Law Firm.
Why You Should Hire the Lento Law Firm Team
Attorneys at the Lento Law Firm are some of the most experienced license defense counsel in the country. They have represented countless medical professionals, including doctors, nurse practitioners, and CRNAs.
Whether you are working in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, Rochester, or in a rural area, the Lento Law Firm can represent you in defending your Minnesota CRNA license.
How Does the Lento Law Firm Defend You?
Many people who hire legal counsel for license defense wonder just what they will do and not do in the case. In short, the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team will be with you every step of the way as we defend your license and reputation.
- If you hire counsel early in the process, your lawyer can review the complaint and advise you of the best course of action.
- If you decide to negotiate a settlement or consent order, your lawyer will negotiate with the Board for a reduction in discipline or dismissal of the complaint. They can also advise you as to the merit of settling your claims or signing a consent order.
- If you decide to proceed to a formal hearing, your lawyer will represent you before the Board at all stages of the Complaint Process.
- As part of your hearing or appeal process, your lawyer will plan your defense by gathering evidence and witnesses that support your version of events.
- Later in the process, your lawyer can plan for compliance or reinstatement.
The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team will lead the defense of your license. They will negotiate with the State and will help you achieve the best possible outcome to your case. Call us today at 888-535-3686 or submit your details online, and we will contact you.