Defending Florida Agency Nurses Against Misconduct Charges

Florida agency nurses face the same professional disciplinary charges and challenges as nurses employed directly by hospitals and other healthcare providers. Agency nurses, though, face the extra challenge of their agency employment relationships. We are here to help agency nurses defend misconduct allegations, whether you work in Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Hialeah, Port St. Lucie, Cape Coral, Tallahassee, Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, or another Florida location, as an agency nurse for Medix, Oxford, Prolink, Health Advocates Network, Express Employment Professionals, Acara Solutions, Beacon Hill Staffing Group, Cell Staff, Cross Country Healthcare, or any other Florida nurse staffing agency. Retain the Lento Law Firm's premier Professional License Defense Team. Call 888.535.3686 or complete this contact form now.

Special Challenges for Florida Agency Nurses

Nursing in Florida, as in other states, is a rewarding but challenging profession. Agency nurses can have significantly greater challenges than nurses whom hospitals, clinics, medical practices, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities employ directly. Agency nursing adds a layer of complexity to the relationship your agency must maintain with its healthcare facility clients. The healthcare facility in which you provide nursing services may feel that it doesn't have to give you the time of day. If your facility receives allegations that you committed nursing misconduct, it doesn't have to hold any special proceeding to determine the truth or fairness of those allegations. It may simply notify your agency to no longer assign you to the facility and request they send over a different nurse.

Once your agency receives a complaint from your healthcare facility about your nursing services, and refuses your continued assignment, your relationship with your agency may change quickly. Your agency may, like the healthcare facility, refuse even to investigate the allegations and instead may promptly terminate your agency employment. Even worse, you may then face Florida Board of Nursing disciplinary charges against your nursing license. Under those circumstances, your travel across Florida to staff healthcare facilities, your Florida nursing license, and your relationship with your Florida staffing agency are all at unusual risk. As a Florida agency nurse, you face special challenges. Let our attorneys help you meet each of those challenges. We can help you defend healthcare facility proceedings, agency termination proceedings, and licensing board proceedings, while also helping you manage collateral consequences.

Florida Agency Nurse Disciplinary Authority

The Florida Board of Nursing licenses and regulates agency nurses and other nurses practicing in the state. The board licenses not only registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) but also advanced practice registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, and various nursing programs. Florida's Nurse Practice Act expressly authorizes the Board of Nursing to deny, revoke, or suspend a nursing license, including the license of an agency nurse. If your healthcare facility receives a complaint that you committed nursing misconduct, your healthcare facility or your staffing agency may report that complaint to the Florida Board of Nursing for action. Patients, residents, their family members, colleagues, supervisors, and even members of the public may also complain directly to the Board of Nursing.

Complaints against agency nurses may arise under any of the circumstances where other nurses face complaints, out of direct patient or resident care, or relationships with physicians, nurse colleagues, aide subordinates, employment supervisors, or other facility staff, or even from outside of the facility, such as in the event of criminal charges or reports of other endangering, corrupt, or disruptive behavior. But once again, agency nurses can face complaints under circumstances where nurses whom the facility directly employs would not face complaints. Some healthcare facilities simply do not value, respect, and protect their agency nurses in the same way they do their direct employees, whether because of the greater investment they make in employees or for other institutional reasons. Agency nurses can find themselves in precarious positions relating to misconduct charges.

Florida Agency Nurse Disciplinary Sanctions

Florida's Nurse Practice Act authorizes the Board of Nursing to impose a wide range of disciplinary sanctions against agency nurses, just as against nurses whom healthcare facilities employ directly. The worst of the sanctions include license refusal, license revocation, and license suspension. Any of those actions would generally require your staffing agency to immediately terminate your nursing employment unless and until you gain reinstatement of your nursing license. But the Nurse Practice Act also authorizes lesser sanctions, any one or more of which could also result in your staffing agency employment termination. Those lesser sanctions include:

● issuing a license only with limiting conditions, such as providing only limited nursing services under special supervision;

● limiting the number of hours you may practice nursing, limiting the services you may provide, or limiting where you may practice;

● conditioning a current license on your remedial education or training;

● conditioning your license on your physical or mental assessment and treatment;

● issuing fines up to $10,000 for each violation;

● issuing a reprimand; and

● placing you on probation.

Special Agency Nurse Effects from Disciplinary Sanctions

Your staffing agency may take the high road, attempting to continue to place you in healthcare settings to employ you as an agency nurse providing nursing services within the above limitations imposed as disciplinary sanctions. But even if your staffing agency sticks with you in the face of discipline, its healthcare facility clients may refuse your assignment to their facility. The relationships and loyalties you have built up with your agency may not extend to their healthcare facility clients, who may regard you as expendable. Let us help you fight your disciplinary charges so that you do not have to face these placement and employment issues. Just because you face Florida Board of Nursing disciplinary charges does not mean that you will suffer any of the above sanctions. We may be able to help you defend and defeat the charges, avoid all sanctions, and keep your nursing license clear of any record of wrongdoing.

Grounds for Florida Agency Nurse Discipline

Florida's Nurse Practice Act specifies a very long list of potential grounds for nurse discipline. As an agency nurse, you must avoid giving others any of those grounds on which to seek discipline, especially given your greater risk when employed through an agency. If, though, you already face misconduct allegations or charges, we may be able to help you defend and defeat those charges. Here are some of the common statutory grounds for discipline under Florida's Nurse Practice Act and how our attorneys may approach your defense of those charges.

Credentials Fraud as a Ground for Florida Agency Nurse Discipline

Credentials fraud is the first ground for discipline Florida's Nurse Practice Act lists. Credentials fraud may include misrepresenting your nursing education and experience on applications for a license or renewal of a license, concealing nurse discipline in another state, or concealing disqualifying criminal convictions. Credentials fraud generally requires licensing officials to show that you deliberately misstated your qualifications with the purpose of obtaining a license you did not deserve. Agency nurses can especially run afoul of credentials fraud charges when their staffing status complicates how they represent their nursing employment and experience. Our attorneys may be able to show that your license application was accurate in all respects, any inaccuracies were not material to your qualifications, or you did not deliberately misstate or conceal material information.

Criminal Conviction as a Ground for Florida Agency Nurse Discipline

Suffering criminal conviction, whether by jury decision or guilty plea, of any crime that “directly relates to the practice of nursing or to the ability to practice nursing” is another ground for agency nurse discipline under Florida's Nurse Practice Act. Health insurance fraud, crimes of violence against a patient or colleague, theft of prescription medications, and even other drug crime convictions off-premises may qualify as crimes directly relating to nursing. Agency nurses face the same issues with criminal convictions as other nurses. Our attorneys may be able to show that you did not suffer a conviction for the alleged crime, that the conviction was overturned or expunged, or that the crime did not directly relate to nursing services or your ability to practice nursing.

False Reports as a Ground for Florida Agency Nurse Discipline

Making a false report, signed in the course of your nursing practice, is another ground for agency nurse discipline under Florida's Nurse Practice Act. False reports can expose patients or residents to risk of harm, or healthcare facilities to risk of violating state or federal laws, rules, and regulations on patient or resident protection, billing and reimbursement, and other interests. Agency nurses may face special false-report issues when unfamiliar with a new healthcare facility's reporting practices. Our attorneys may be able to show that your reports were accurate in every material respect, any inaccuracies in your reports were immaterial, you were reasonably unaware of any inaccuracies, others were responsible for any material inaccuracies in any reports, or you did not sign the alleged report in your nursing capacity.

Unprofessional Conduct as a Ground for Florida Agency Nurse Discipline

Unprofessional conduct is another ground for agency nurse discipline under Florida's Nurse Practice Act. Unprofessional conduct is a very broad category that Florida's Board of Nursing has statutory authority to further define under its own regulations. Unprofessional conduct charges commonly include things like endangering or disruptive behavior in the healthcare facility, insubordination toward physicians and supervising nurses, disrespect of colleagues, and even inappropriate dress and demeanor. Agency nurses can especially face unprofessional conduct allegations when unfamiliar with a healthcare facility's customs, conventions, and expectations. Our attorneys may be able to show that you did not commit the unprofessional conduct, that complaining witnesses mistook the perpetrator's identity, that your conduct was not unprofessional within established standards, that your conduct threatened no harm, or that you have corrected your conduct without risk of its reoccurrence and before any harm or risk occurred.

Impaired Practice as a Ground for Florida Agency Nurse Discipline

Impaired nursing practice, defined as “being unable to practice nursing with reasonable skill and safety to patients by reason of illness or use of alcohol, drugs, narcotics, or chemicals or any other type of material or as a result of any mental or physical condition,” is another ground for agency nurse discipline under Florida's Nurse Practice Act. Agency nurses can especially face impaired practice charges when a healthcare facility is unfamiliar with the agency nurse's medical conditions and demeanor. Our attorneys may be able to show that you were not impaired, any apparent impairment was instead due to innocent conditions, any impairment was temporary due to unexpected conditions such as a medication reaction, or that your healthcare facility or staffing agency employer owed you reasonable accommodation for a mental or physical disability that, once accommodated, presented no risk of unsafe or unskilled nursing practice.

Nursing Malpractice as a Ground for Florida Agency Nurse Discipline

Nursing malpractice, defined as “[f]ailing to meet minimal standards of acceptable and prevailing nursing practice,” is another ground for agency nurse discipline under Florida's Nurse Practice Act. Nursing malpractice may involve administering the wrong medications, administering medications improperly or in improper doses, failing to follow physician orders for things like bed rails up and patient ambulatory assistance, or failing to reasonably notify physicians or supervising nurses when a patient's deteriorating or critical condition indicates so. Agency nurses can especially face nursing malpractice allegations when healthcare facilities find it convenient to blame the agency nurse for the failures of the facility's direct employees. Our attorneys may be able to show that the allegations of malpractice were due to the conduct of others, that your conduct was at all times within nursing standards of care, or that you performed the disputed nursing services under the direction of a physician or nurse supervisor whose instructions you reasonably believed to be arguably appropriate.

Improper Delegation as a Ground for Florida Agency Nurse Discipline

Improper delegation of nursing duties to an unqualified person is another ground for agency nurse discipline under Florida's Nurse Practice Act. Nurses often work closely with nurse aides and attendants. Delegating to an unqualified aide or attendant services or care that Florida laws, rules, and regulations reserve for licensed nurses can endanger patients. Examples might include drawing blood, taking vital signs, or administering medications under a doctor's prescription. Agency nurses can face special risks of improper delegation charges because of their unfamiliarity with the licenses and qualifications of other personnel at the healthcare facility. Our attorneys may be able to help you defend improper delegation charges by showing that you did not delegate nursing services, that the only delegation you made was of non-nursing services, or that the unqualified person providing nursing services did so without your knowledge or direction.

Procedures for Florida Agency Nurse Discipline

Florida's Nurse Practice Act and its Board of Nursing rely on Florida's general statute for disciplinary procedures for all licensed healthcare professionals. That general statute provides agency nurses with the due process their constitutional rights guarantee. As an agency nurse facing Board of Nursing charges, you have the right to invoke protective procedures through which our attorneys can present your evidence and arguments against your license discipline. But you must generally invoke those procedures properly and in a timely manner to gain the statutory and regulatory protections. We can help you do so. If you ignore disciplinary charges instead, the Board of Nursing may default you, meaning that you may suffer discipline as charged and without any formal hearing or adjudication, even if the allegations are unfair or untrue. Florida's hearing procedures include the following protective procedures, which we may be able to invoke on your behalf as indicated:

● preliminary department investigation of the allegations before formal charges, during which we may be able to present investigators with your exonerating and mitigating evidence to avoid disciplinary charges;

● department notice of only a minor violation not threatening patient health or safety, avoiding formal charges and disciplinary sanction if you timely correct the violation, as our attorneys may be able to show and successfully argue;

● board majority determination after investigation that probable cause exists to proceed with disciplinary charges, against which we may be able to argue so that you avoid formal charges and the matter resolves;

● if the board majority finds probable cause to pursue disciplinary charges against you, the department may review and challenge that finding, potentially resulting in its reversal, as our attorneys may be able to argue;

● if the department follows the board's recommendation and issues formal charges, then you are due a formal contested hearing before an independent administrative law judge (ALJ), at which our attorneys may present your exonerating and mitigating evidence, cross-examine the board's witnesses against you, and advocate for dismissal of the charges;

● the ALJ recommends any discipline to the board, which may accept or reject the ALJ's recommendation, giving our attorneys another opportunity to advocate on your behalf against disciplinary charges;

● the board may alternatively enter into consent settlement agreements with you to retain your nursing license and agency employment, which we can help you negotiate and evaluate to ensure that you understand and can meet their terms;

● limited judicial review of the final administrative action against you, which our attorneys can help you evaluate and, if appropriate, pursue through Florida's courts, holding the Board of Nursing accountable to Florida's Nurse Practice Act and the laws, rules, and regulations providing you with protective procedures.

Florida Board of Nursing Alternative Discipline Program

The Florida Board of Nursing, like nursing boards in other states, offers agency nurses and other nurses an alternative discipline program it calls the Intervention Project for Nurses. The alternative discipline program can provide substance abuse and mental health services for agency nurses and other nurses struggling with addiction or mental impairments. Agency nurses can face addiction and mental health challenges, just like nurses whom healthcare facilities employ directly. The additional stress of agency nursing may contribute to those issues. However, the unfamiliarity of the healthcare facility's employees with the agency nurse may also contribute to false or exaggerated allegations of substance abuse or mental health issues.

Our attorneys can help you evaluate whether Florida's alternative discipline program makes sense for you. Beware, though, of accepting disciplinary officials' recommendation to enroll in the program as a condition for delaying, withholding, or resolving disciplinary charges. Consult our attorneys first. If you are unable to meet the program's strict requirements, you may lose your nursing license. Your nursing license suspension or severe limitation may also be a condition of your program enrollment. Let us help you find out and judge whether the program makes sense. We may instead be able to help you show that you have no addiction or mental health issue or have already appropriately addressed it without the need for the program.

Defending Florida Agency Nurse Misconduct Charges

Don't wait until it's too late. Get early help, as early as possible, even when first learning of the allegations before your licensing board or employer pursues any proceedings or charges. We may be able to head off the charges by responding diplomatically, firmly, and comprehensively to the individual, family, or entity making the allegations. Once the state board gets involved, things grow more complicated. But if the state board is already involved, we can still help. Indeed, when you receive formal notice of charges is when our services become most critical to your successful defense. We can even help with an appeal if you have already lost your case at a formal hearing.

Premier Florida Agency Nurse Defense Services Available

Recognize what you have at stake as an agency nurse facing Florida Board of Nursing disciplinary charges or even misconduct allegations made before formal charges are issued. If you are an agency nurse facing misconduct allegations in Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Hialeah, Port St. Lucie, Cape Coral, Tallahassee, Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, or any other Florida location, retain the Lento Law Firm's premier Professional License Defense Team for your best defense. Call 888.535.3686 or complete this contact form now.


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