Registered nurses in West Virginia have demanding jobs, but those who hold advanced practice certifications, such as nurse anesthetists, typically face additional challenges. Any nurse in West Virginia who wishes to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) must hold an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) license.
A West Virginia APRN license allows you to administer anesthesia and other related services to patients before, during, and after surgery. You have an awesome responsibility in caring for your patients, and you take your job seriously and conduct yourself with the utmost professionalism and integrity.
Unfortunately, you have received notice that you are under investigation by the West Virginia RN Board (WV RN Board) for a complaint against you that could jeopardize your license. Perhaps you have already received administrative action and sanctions from the WV RB Board and need to explore your options to challenge the decision and have your license reinstated.
No matter the West Virginia APRN licensing issues you face, you need a knowledgeable and experienced legal advocate to advise you of your rights and options and help you challenge the WV RN Board's decision against you.
The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team offers the best chance you have of getting the favorable outcomes you seek. Our team has many years of experience assisting APRN nurses throughout West Virginia with their complex and pressing licensure issues.
Contact us today at 888.535.3685 to speak with a highly experienced professional license defense attorney about your case. We will inform you of your rights and the options you have to defend yourself, and we can assist with developing a customized and strategic defense plan.
Legal Authority the WV RN Board Has Over You
The WV RN Board seeks to protect the public by regulating licensed nursing professionals in the state. The Board has the legal authority to take disciplinary action against anyone who holds a West Virginia nursing license, including an APRN, if it finds sufficient reason to do so. This can include:
- Issuing reprimands
- Entering consent agreements
- Imposing disciplinary actions, such as license suspensions
- Assessing fines and administrative penalties
The sanctions the WV RN Board imposes can vary by the nature of the complaint. However, you must take any investigation or action from the WV RN Board seriously and retain a qualified and dedicated professional license defense attorney as soon as possible.
What Types of Complaints Can Put My WV APRN License at Risk?
Any number of complaints can put your WV APRN license at risk. These include:
- Alcohol and substance abuse: This is the most common type of complaint. Nurses who abuse drugs and/or alcohol may violate regulations or compromise the nurse's ability to provide an accepted standard of care to their patients.
- Practice-related issues: These can include things such as medication errors, documentation mistakes, and gross negligence or incompetence that puts a patient's health and safety in danger.
- Patient abuse or neglect: This can include verbal, physical, or sexual abuse, as well as patient abandonment.
Complaints may also include:
- License application fraud
- Other fraudulent or criminal offenses, such as stealing medication or falsifying records
- Criminal convictions
- Psychiatric disabilities and mental illness
- Violating probation conditions, if applicable
- Practicing without a license
The Board also receives complaints involving issues such as personality conflicts between co-workers, wage and time disputes, and wrongful termination. However, none of these types of complaints are within the Board's jurisdiction.
What Happens If Someone Files a Complaint Against Me?
When the Board receives a complaint, it will send a letter to the complainant acknowledging receipt of the complaint. The Board must also notify the registered nurse of the complaint through either a Letter of Inquiry or a Notice of Complaint.
The registered nurse must respond to the Notice of Complaint within 14 days and may request an extension.
The Board must then investigate the complaint to determine whether it has merit. The Board allows parties to submit complaints anonymously, but anonymous complaints may be harder to investigate. People may submit complaints through the WV RN Board's website, through email, or by calling the Board directly.
The Board may use various investigative techniques to determine the complaint's validity. These can include subpoenaing documents, interviewing witnesses, and conducting on-site visits. The investigation will remain confidential, and parties involved may not discuss the complaint with other parties during the investigation.
The Board is represented by the West Virginia Office of the Attorney General and has sole authority to determine how to proceed with the complaint.
What Is the WV RN Board's Disciplinary Process?
Once the Board completes its investigation, it may find the complaint has no merit. In this case, the Board may dismiss the complaint, and no formal actions will be taken against the nurse.
However, if the Board finds sufficient evidence to support the complaint, it may take several disciplinary actions, depending on the nature of the offense. These include:
- Summary license suspension
- A consent agreement with the nurse
- A hearing conducted by the Hearing Examiner if the nurse rejects the consent agreement.
The Board must offer the nurse due process in the adjudication process, particularly if they impose a summary suspension. However, if the Board finds the nurse endangered the health, safety, and welfare of patients or the public, it may take immediate emergency action and take the nurse's license.
WV RN Board Consent Agreements
In most cases, the Board offers consent agreements to nurses found in violation of laws, requirements, and standards. A consent agreement may contain any of the following actions:
- Reprimand – The least serious of actions that may or may not contain restrictions.
- Probation – The nurse may keep their license but must practice under enumerated conditions or restrictions for a specified time.
- License Suspension – The Board may suspend the nurse's license for a specified time period.
- License Revocation – The Board may revoke the nurse's license altogether.
License suspension and revocation are the most serious actions the Board can take against a nurse. The nurse is under no obligation to accept the consent agreement and may negotiate its terms. It's important the nurse retains qualified legal counsel to help negotiate favorable terms. If the nurse violated any terms of the agreement, the Board may immediately suspend their license.
WV RN Board Hearings
If the nurse and the Board cannot agree to the disciplinary actions suggested in the consent agreement, the case will go before a formal administrative hearing. The nurse will receive a Complaint and Notice of Hearing at least 30 days before the hearing date.
A Hearing Examiner (aka., an Administrative Law Judge) will preside over the hearing. Both the nurse and the Board may call witnesses and present evidence during the hearing to support their arguments. Both sides may also present findings of fact, legal conclusions, and recommendations to the Hearing Examiner.
Board members will receive a transcript of the hearing and the Hearing Officer's recommendations and will render a final order at a Board meeting.
WV RN Board Appeals
If the nurse does not agree with the final order, they may appeal the decision to the appropriate Circuit Court in their area. It's vital you work with an experienced professional license defense attorney during the hearing and the appeal.
How Long Does It Take to Resolve a WV Nursing License Complaint?
Most complaints are resolved within 60 days. However, some cases could take 180 days or longer. Many consent agreements are resolved within 30 days. If a formal hearing is needed, the case could take a year or more to resolve.
Understanding the Nurse Licensure Compact and How It Can Affect Your Practice
The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) seeks to unify nursing standards throughout the U.S., and the NLC allows registered nurses to practice in NLC-compliant states without having to obtain additional licensing requirements.
West Virginia complies with the NLC, and you may practice in other NLC-compliant states if you're licensed in West Virginia. However, encountering licensing issues in West Virginia may also affect your ability to practice in other states.
Additionally, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) maintains a database called Nursys. This database contains important information regarding a nurse's licensure, and virtually anyone can search the database and uncover information about your licensing issues, including:
- Your current license status
- Your disciplinary record
Thus, hospital administrators and other potential employers can investigate your licensure background when determining whether to hire you. If you have a mark on your record because of a West Virginia licensing issue, it could adversely affect your chances of obtaining employment.
Why You Need a WV APRN License Defense Attorney in West Virginia
An aggrieved nurse in West Virginia may have legal counsel with them during any stage of the complaint adjudication process, from the initial investigation through to the hearing and appeals. It's the nurse's sole decision whether to retain an attorney, but many nurses in West Virginia facing disciplinary action from the WV RN Board choose to have legal counsel represent them.
How the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Can Help
There are two major reasons you need to hire an attorney from the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team to represent you with your WV nurse licensure issues.
First, the WV RN Board has considerable resources at its disposal to investigate and prosecute complaints. Hearing Examiners and Board investigators handle complaints daily, and they have in-depth knowledge of the law as well as tactics to use against the nurse during the adjudication process. You need a skilled and knowledgeable attorney on your side to level the playing field and protect your rights and interests.
Second, an administrative hearing is not like a criminal trial in court. The Board does not need to find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, they need only a preponderance of evidence of your guilt to impose harsh sanctions. You need defense counsel to present as much evidence as possible to exonerate you or mitigate the potential consequences you could face. If you don't have an attorney to challenge the evidence and present a compelling defense on your behalf, you risk losing the battle and your license.
It's crucial you contact a Professional License Defense attorney at the Lento Law Firm for help right away the moment you learn of a complaint against you or receive an unfavorable ruling from the Board.
Areas We Serve in West Virginia
The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team represents APRNs and other registered nurses throughout West Virginia, including those who practice in the following geographic areas:
- Harpers Ferry
We represent APRN nurses who work at CAMC Memorial Hospital, WVU Medicine, Cabell Huntington Hospital, Jefferson Memorial Hospital, and others.
Contact the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team for Your West Virginia APRN License Issues
Regardless of the complaint against you or the actions the WV RN Board has imposed against your license, you have every right to defend yourself. Even if you're under investigation and believe the complaint has no merit, you still need a qualified and experienced legal professional on your side to help ensure you get the positive results you expect.
The WV RN Board has vast resources to investigate and prosecute complaints against APRNs and other nurses in West Virginia, and you need an astute and knowledgeable attorney to protect your rights and advocate for you throughout the process.
The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team has helped hundreds of APRNs, CRNAs, and other licensed nurses throughout West Virginia and across the country. We have the skills, knowledge, and resources to help you get the most favorable outcomes possible, and we will fight hard each step of the way to increase your chances for success.