The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Can Help When Your Washington D.C. Nursing License is in Jeopardy
Like all states and U.S. territories, the District of Columbia (D.C.) requires that anyone working in the nursing profession have a valid license. As such, the Board of Nursing in D.C. oversees the implementation and renewal process for nursing licenses. They also uphold the professional and ethical standards that D.C. nurses are meant to follow, as well as any disciplinary proceedings that might arise from violating these standards. In cases where the nurse is found responsible for the accused conduct, the Board is in charge of imposing conditions or restrictions on the license or suspending or revoking it altogether.
It is crucial that you understand that any kind of disciplinary punishment dispensed by the Board can have seriously disastrous consequences for your career. Not only would you be barred from pursuing the life you've worked hard for by being prevented from nursing, but it could also affect your living arrangements, what kinds of patients you can see, and whether you will qualify for a license in a new state if you were to relocate. To ensure you are not subject to unnecessary consequences, call the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team today. We can help.
Washington D.C. Board of Nursing License Proceedings
Washington D.C.'s Board of Nursing's mission is to protect the public's health and well-being by making sure they are receiving quality care. To achieve this, they are committed to imposing regulations on the practice of nursing and nursing education programs that take place within D.C. For instance, under the D.C. Nurse Practice Act if an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse practices nursing that is outside the scope of their license, the Board will investigate the matter and determine if the nurse's license should be limited in some way, suspended, or revoked.
The D.C. Nurse Practice Act also outlines how the Board of Nursing is organized and the ways in which it will oversee nursing professionals in the area. The Act also describes the rules and regulations nurses must follow to remain in good standing with the Board. Sometimes, though, these regulations are hard to decipher - or find - and nursing professionals end up violating them without even realizing they did. In such cases, it is difficult for the nurse in question to defend themselves appropriately.
This is where the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team come in. Many nurses believe they can defend themselves on their own from such accusations. In reality, though, self-defenses end up being substantially less successful than attorney-assisted ones. Not only does the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team have the legal acumen to build a strong defense on your behalf, but they also have a broad understanding of nursing license defense from helping nurses in several different states around the country. They will be able to protect your future from anything the Board tries to throw at you.
Types of Nursing Licenses in D.C.
In D.C., there are several types of nursing professionals, including licensed practical nurses (LPN), registered nurses (RN), and advanced practical registered nurses (APRN). Each requires specific educational components as well as examinations, continuing education courses, and fees to be valid in the District. If an individual is unable to pass their licensing examination, fails to renew on time, or is unable to finish their continuing education courses prior to the renewal date, they will be ineligible to practice nursing in Washington, D.C. Moreover, when a nurse is accused of violating one of the Board of Nursing's regulations and is punished with a limitation or restriction on their license that is not met by the time their renewal window approaches, they will be required to attend a disciplinary hearing, which will determine if their license is suspended or revoked.
As we explained above, any kind of accusation - or judgment - against you can have serious consequences for the future of your nursing career. Not only will you be prevented from working in D.C. as a nurse, but you could also be prevented from working in another state. The Lento Law Firm Professional Defense Team can help prevent your license from being limited and subsequently affecting your quality of life going forward. Call the Lento Law Firm today.
Nursing License Compact in Washington D.C.
In the early 2000s, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) created the Nursing License Compact to create an enhanced licensure standard. In 2018, they updated the NLC to create the Enhanced Nursing License Compact (eNLC). The hope is that by having a cohesive standard of practice, nurses would be less confused about the regulations they are required to follow. Additionally, this compact offers a kind of flexibility that allows patients to have greater access to healthcare and allows hospitals, insurance companies, and patients to lower the costs of their care.
As of today, over 40 states and territories have joined the compact. Unfortunately, Washington, D.C., is not one of them. As such, D.C. falls into the camp of eNLC critics that believe the compact will prevent them from collecting the same level of revenue they would with their single-state licenses. These states also believe that the compact will impede their ability to manage disciplinary issues, affect patient privacy, or influence the growth of telemedicine and telenursing practices.
Despite the fact that the NCSBN created Nursys - an online database and notification system that informs nurses of their license renewal dates and also helps other organizations validate nursing licenses - to overcome these negative comments, D.C. has still yet to join the eNLC.
When a nurse is accused of violating a regulation in a compact state, both their state license and their compact license are at issue. However, when a nurse in a single license state is accused of violating a regulation, only their license in that particular state is at issue - that is until the disciplinary proceeding takes place. If the nurse is found responsible for the accused misconduct, it could affect their ability to renew their license in another state. It will also have an effect on their reputation in the second state and could impact their work and career prospects.
Working with the Lento Law Firm from the moment you learn of a complaint against your license is the best way to make sure you are not being punished in multiple states, whether you have a compact license or not.
What Types of Allegations Can Put a Nurse's License at Risk?
The Nursing Act in D.C. specifies the regulations and standards that individuals practicing nursing must abide by or run the risk of having their license invalidated. For instance, nurses in D.C. must:
- Display their license, registration, or certification in a conspicuous area in their place of business or employment.
- Wear a name tag that displays their full name, the type of license they hold, and their professional title.
- Only practice under the legal name that appears on their license or certification.
- Notify the Board of changes of address, legal name changes, or employment changes such as termination, revocation, suspension, or voluntary surrenders from a health care facility.
Additionally, according to the Act, to ensure a nursing license is not suspended, revoked, or limited in some way, nurses in D.C. must avoid several actions, including the following conduct:
- Getting or attempting to get a nursing license fraudulently or deceitfully.
- Fraudulently or deceptively using a nursing license, registration, or certification.
- Being disciplined by a licensing or disciplinary authority or peer review body, or being convicted or disciplined by a court in any jurisdiction for misconduct that would result in disciplinary action under the Act.
- Being convicted of an offense related to nursing and the convicting body is seeking their license, registration, or certification as punishment.
- Being professionally or mentally incompetent or physically incapable of providing nursing care safely.
- Having an addiction to, or habitually using, alcohol, narcotic, or controlled substance.
- Providing, or attempting to provide, nursing care while under the influence of alcohol, narcotics, or controlled substances - or other drugs in excess of the therapeutic amount or without a valid prescription.
- Making false reports or records of their nursing practice on purpose.
- Purposefully failing to file or record any medical reports that are required by law, or impeding or obstructing the filing or recording of the report, or preventing someone else from doing so.
- Failing to provide a copy or summary report of the patient's health care record to the patient or their legal representative or guardian, a hospital, or other healthcare professional.
- Purposefully making a misrepresentation in treatment.
- Submitting false claims for reimbursement.
- Failing to pay civil fines imposed by the Board of Nursing.
- Receiving kickbacks for referring patients.
- Willfully breaching a statute, regulation, or ethical requirement of patient confidentiality.
- Refusing to provide care to anyone.
- Violating the conditions of their license agreement.
- Prescribing, dispensing, recommending, or administering drugs without the authority to do so.
- Physically, emotionally, or sexually harassing or abusing a patient.
- Having sexual contact with a patient.
- Violating any D.C. laws or regulations or federal laws or regulations.
- Failing to conform to standards of practice.
- Abandoning or neglecting a patient.
- Having a willful or careless disregard for the health, welfare, or safety of a patient, whether or not the patient sustains an actual injury because of it.
If you are accused of committing one of the actions listed above, and the Board finds you responsible, they have the right to punish you. Punishments in D.C. can include anything from a reprimand to suspension or revocation of your nursing license.
It is important to note that though the Board has the power to punish certain sanctions, the issue may not end there. The Act gives the Board the option to refer any complaints they receive to local or federal law enforcement for further investigation and possible charges. Working with the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team will help mitigate any punishments you might receive from the Board, as well as get a headstart on any criminal charges or civil claims that might be brought against you.
Exemptions to Nursing Statutes in Washington D.C.
While the Act in D.C. defines exactly who can practice nursing in the District, there are other individuals who may practice nursing, but only in specific settings and within certain circumstances, including:
- Individuals who provide treatment or advice in emergencies.
- Federal government employees who are employed in the District while conducting official duties.
- Individuals who are providing care to someone or a group for a limited period of time, or who are called in from a state to professionally consult on a specific patient in the District, or to give a demonstration of a procedure or clinic in the District.
- A nurse who treats patients in the District but who is employed in a state adjoining the District, as long as they do not have an office in the District where they regularly meet patients, are in good standing with their state's Board and the state they are licensed in allows D.C. nurses to practice there as well (under certain standards of care).
Sadly, many nursing boards will fail to recognize that a complaint against a nurse actually falls within one of these exemptions. The benefit of working with an attorney the moment you learn of the accusations against you is that they will be sure to present such exemptions to the Board before any disciplinary proceedings can take place, which will prevent you from suffering from any unnecessary hardships.
What is the Disciplinary Process for Washington D.C. Nurses?
The D.C. Board of Nursing is committed to adjudicating any violations of the Nursing Act. To ensure that nurses are being held accountable, every person in the District is charged with the responsibility of reporting a nurse for any type of suspected misconduct. The complaints are then reviewed by the Board, and if there is enough suspicion to warrant it, the Board will initiate an investigation.
During the investigation, the investigator will review the complaint and interview both the complainant and the nurse in question to gather preliminary evidence. If, at the end of the investigation, they believe there is enough preliminary evidence to support the complaint, they will notify the Board, and a hearing will be scheduled.
Prior to the hearing, the Board can, at its discretion, request that the nurse attend a settlement conference. This conference will allow both sides to attempt to negotiate a settlement agreement, which includes consenting to any decrees the Board intends to make. When a settlement cannot be approved, the matter will continue to the hearing proceeding.
At the hearing, both the complainant and the accused nurse will have a chance to present their arguments, evidence, and witness testimony. Once both sides have presented, the Board will determine if, based on the evidence, the nurse is responsible for the accused misconduct.
In instances where the nurse is found not responsible, the case is dismissed, and the nurse does not have to defend themselves further. Though, in these cases, the complainant does have the right to appeal the decision. Additionally, if the nurse is found responsible for the accused misconduct, they will be notified of the decision in a letter, as well as the disciplinary actions the Board will be taking against them.
For example, the Board may decide to issue a formal reprimand against the nurse, which would be memorialized in the nurse's permanent file and attached to their license. Alternatively, the Board may decide to suspend the license for a period of time, impose a specific limitation or restriction on the license (such as what specialties the nurse can work in), or decide to permanently revoke the license. Whatever the decision, it can only be appealed to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Misconduct accusations can be very difficult to defend against if you are unfamiliar with the laws or regulations you are supposed to be upholding. Additionally, when you decide to represent yourself during these proceedings, you run the risk of incurring harsher sanctions than necessary. While these are not criminal charges or civil proceedings, Board hearings should be taken just as seriously. Any negative outcome will greatly affect both your ability to work and provide for yourself or your family, but it could also negatively impact your mental health.
The Lento Law Firm Professional Defense Team have helped nurses all over the country, giving them unmatched experience and a unique understanding of nursing board proceedings. This experience will also act as leverage they can employ to diminish, or even dismiss, the accusations against you. Having them in your corner is the best way to ensure you are fully protected.
Why You Need a Nursing License Defense Attorney in Washington D.C.
There have been several instances where nursing boards know that complaints against a particular nurse are unfounded or simply a matter of spite or personal issues. Instead of dismissing the complaint, they continue to pursue it and impact a nurse's life and reputation for no reason.
Moreover, nurses have certain due process rights when accused of violating the nursing act, including the right to face their accuser, the right to defend themselves, and the right to have counsel help them. So, if the D.C. Board fails to allow you these rights during the disciplinary process, any decision they come to will be overturned or reassessed by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Having the help of a qualified and experienced attorney will ensure the Board upholds your due process rights and that you are not unfairly punished for false accusations.
The Nature of Washington D.C. Board of Nursing Charges
As we explained above, decisions made by D.C.'s Board of Nursing differ from criminal convictions or civil penalties that would be adjudicated in state or federal court. However, there are certain instances when the Board will refer the complaint to state or federal law enforcement for further investigation.
In such cases, if you are found guilty by the state or federal court and found responsible for the misconduct by the Board, not only would you be prevented from practicing nursing in D.C., but you could be facing harsher sanctions, such as restitution or jail or prison sentences. To prevent such things, the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team will work tirelessly to review the accusations against you and negotiate on your behalf with state or federal law enforcement professionals.
How the Lento Law Firm Can Help
Becoming a nurse is an incredible feat. You work so hard to get into a good nursing program, exhaust yourself studying, and then finally enter the workforce after years of effort. When you are accused of misconduct or some other regulation violation, it can be quite scary, especially if you are unsure of who to turn to for help. However, it is important to push through these emotions and do everything you can to protect your nursing license from unnecessary or unreasonable punishments.
They understand what you are up against. They have spent years helping nurses around the country defend themselves from serious consequences that can have lasting effects on more than just their careers. They will devise a strategic defense on your behalf and guarantee you the best possible outcome for your case. Call 888-535-3686 today or schedule a consultation online.