Let the Lento Law Firm Defend Your Georgia CNA Registration
Georgia's large metropolitan Atlanta region, with its nation-leading healthcare facilities, makes the state a great place to pursue your certified nurse aide (CNA) work and career. Five of Georgia's largest ten hospitals, employing hundreds of CNAs, are in Atlanta, including the state's largest hospital Grady Memorial and other top-five hospitals Wellstar Atlanta, Emory University, and Piedmont Atlanta. But Georgia has top-ten-sized hospitals in other locations, including Albany's Phoebe Putney Memorial, Macon's Atrium Health Navicent, Marietta's Wellstar Kennestone, Columbus's Piedmont Columbus Regional, and Gainesville's Northeast Georgia Medical Center.
Yet as a Georgia CNA, you must maintain your name in good standing in the state's Nurse Aide Registry if you are to enjoy your abundant Georgia CNA employment opportunities. If Georgia Department of Community Health officials find that you engaged in serious professional or personal misconduct, you could face license disciplinary charges threatening your CNA registration and employment. Address your CNA disciplinary issues responsibly. Retain the Lento Law Firm's premier Professional License Defense Team to defend your CNA license in Atlanta, Marietta, Macon, Albany, Columbus, Gainesville, or any other Georgia location. Call 888.535.3686 or chat with us now for skilled and experienced attorney help defending your Georgia CNA license against disciplinary charges.
Georgia Certified Nurse Aide Registration
Georgia variously calls its certified nursing assistants either certified nurse aides, CNAs, or registered nurse aides. Georgia's official statutory name is the Nurse Aide Registry. But Georgia's Department of Community Health administering the Nurse Aide Registry publishes summaries referring to the professionals as CNAs and certified nurse aides. No matter the lingo, though, you must maintain your Georgia Nurse Aide Registry status in good standing to maintain your CNA employment. Georgia Code Section 31-2-14 ensures that the Nurse Aide Registry covers not only CNAs who work in hospitals and other healthcare facilities but also CNAs serving in private residences: “The nurse aide registry established and maintained by the department as required by 42 C.F.R. Section 483.156 shall include, in addition to nurse aides who work in licensed facilities, nurse aides who provide services in this state in temporary or permanent private residences.” The same statute ensures that employers, patients, and their families can easily check the Nurse Aide Registry to ensure that you remain in good standing: “The department shall ensure that the registry is posted or a link to it is provided in a prominent location on the department's website.” Let our attorneys help if you have a registration issue that the Department of Community Health is unwilling to resolve. You won't find CNA employment in Georgia without registration.
Georgia CNA Regulatory Authority
Georgia Code Section 31-2-14 not only establishes the state's Nurse Aide Registry and ensures its publication but also provides that the Department of Community Health regulate and discipline CNAs who engage in misconduct: “The registry shall provide a method for an inquiry or complaint to be submitted by the public regarding a nurse aide providing services in private residences. Any such inquiries or complaints shall be handled in the same manner as required for nurse aides who work in licensed facilities.” Indeed, Georgia's Nurse Aide Registry publishes a list of the hundreds of CNAs whom the Department has disciplined for verbal, physical, or sexual abuse, neglect, mistreatment, and misappropriation of funds or other property. Georgia also has a Nurse Practice Act that regulates the practice of nursing generally, including imposing standards for discipline. Don't question the statutory authority of Georgia public health officials to regulate your CNA practice. Those officials have the regulatory authority.
Georgia CNA Discipline Forms
The Georgia Department of Community Health also has the authority to impose various forms of discipline against those whom the Department licenses. Georgia Code Section 31-2-8 grants the Department the authority to revoke any license it issues, suspend a license with terms and conditions for its reinstatement, refuse to grant a license, issue a public reprimand of a licensee, limit or restrict a license, or impose fines for license violations. When disciplining a licensee, the Department must consider “the seriousness of the violation, including the circumstances, extent, and gravity of the prohibited acts, and the hazard or potential hazard created to the health or safety of the public.” Recognize your stakes in a CNA disciplinary proceeding. The Department may revoke or suspend your license, causing you to lose your CNA employment. Your stakes are high. Retain our skilled and experienced attorneys to ensure your best outcome.
Georgia CNA Disciplinary Resolutions
Just because Georgia public health officials have charged you with wrongdoing as a CNA doesn't mean that they intend to revoke or suspend your license. Disciplinary charges are allegations of wrongdoing, not findings. You may be able to defend and defeat those allegations. And Georgia public health officials are not dead set on revoking the license of any CNA found to have violated a nursing standard. Instead, Georgia Code Section 31-2-8 expressly grants the Department of Community Health the power to resolve disciplinary matters by consent agreement: “With regard to any contested case instituted by the department pursuant to this Code section or other provisions of law which may now or hereafter authorize remedial or disciplinary grounds and action, the department may, in its discretion, dispose of the action so instituted by settlement.” Our attorneys may be able to help you negotiate a consent resolution in which you retain your CNA license and employment.
Grounds for Georgia CNA Discipline
Georgia's Nurse Practice Act, applicable to LPNs, RNs, and advanced practice nurses lists grounds on which the Board of Nursing disciplines those professionals. Georgia's Nurse Practice Act does not explicitly cover CNAs. But one presumes that the Act's broader nursing standards help to define CNA standards, too. The Act prohibits such things as practicing without a license, a conviction of crimes of violence, moral turpitude, or drug violations, and displaying an inability to practice nursing safely within the bounds of the profession, endangering patients. Any of those violations could potentially be grounds for your CNA discipline.
Georgia's Department of Community Health, though, publishes a fact sheet listing detailed grounds on which the Department disciplines CNAs for misconduct. These grounds are the ones the Department will most likely allege when pursuing disciplinary charges against you. Consider the following Department grounds for CNA discipline and how our Professional License Defense Team may help you defend and defeat those charges.
Neglect as Grounds for Georgia CNA Discipline
The Department's fact sheet lists neglect as the first grounds for CNA discipline. The fact sheet defines neglect as “the failure to care for a person in a manner, which would avoid harm and pain, or the failure to react to a situation which may be harmful.” The fact sheet adds that “neglect may or may not be intentional. For example, a caring aide who is poorly trained may not know how to provide proper care.” The Department's fact sheet then lists the following forms of CNA neglect for which it may impose discipline:
- incorrect body positioning, which leads to limb contractures and skin breakdown;
- lack of toileting or changing of disposable briefs, which causes incontinence and results in residents sitting in urine and feces, increased falls and agitation, indignity, and skin breakdown;
- lack of assistance eating and drinking, which leads to malnutrition and dehydration;
- lack of assistance with walking, which leads to lack of mobility;
- lack of bathing, which leads to indignity, and poor hygiene;
- poor handwashing techniques, which leads to infection;
- lack of assistance with participating in activities of interest, which leads to withdrawal and isolation; and
- ignoring call bells or cries for help.
Our attorneys may be able to help you defend neglect charges by showing that you did not act or omit as disciplinary officials allege, that you were not assigned to the complainant's care, that others were responsible for the actions and omissions, or that you followed your nursing supervisor's reasonable instructions. Even if you did commit one or more of the violations that officials allege, we might be able to help you show that you have corrected and remediated the conditions so that you do not present a threat to patient or public safety in the future. Neglect allegations, although potentially serious, do not necessarily implicate you as having a bad or even malicious character. Neglect may have just as much to do with not having clear assignments, having too many assignments to reasonably complete, or lacking the skill and training to recognize endangering conditions.
Abuse as Grounds for Georgia CNA Discipline
The Department's fact sheet next lists abuse as grounds for CNA discipline. The fact sheet defines abuse as “causing intentional pain or harm. This includes physical, mental, verbal, psychological, and sexual abuse, corporal punishment, unreasonable seclusion, and intimidation.” The fact sheet gives the following examples:
- physical abuse from a staff member or an intruder or visitor from outside the facility, including hitting, pinching, shoving, force-feeding, scratching, slapping, and spitting;
- psychological or emotional abuse, including berating, ignoring, ridiculing, or cursing a resident, threats of punishment or deprivation;
- sexual abuse, including improper touching or coercion to perform sexual acts; and
- rough handling during caregiving, medicine administration, or moving a resident.
Because abuse allegations require evidence of intentional or deliberate misconduct, abuse allegations are routinely very serious, carrying a substantial implication of bad or even malicious character that makes them harder to defend. Our attorneys may nonetheless be able to help you defend abuse allegations on the basis that you did not commit the misconduct. Patients with poor mental abilities and poor memories may misattribute the actions of others to you or may simply report imaginary events as if they were real. Department disciplinary investigators are generally well aware of the risk of patient misreporting. Our attorneys may help you find witnesses and records showing that you were not responsible for the alleged abuse or that no abuse, in fact, occurred. You may also be able to show mitigating circumstances, although harder to prove in these cases of intentional wrongdoing.
Substandard Care as Grounds for Georgia CNA Discipline
The Department's fact sheet also lists as grounds for discipline “substandard care which often results in one or more of the following conditions: immobilization, incontinence, dehydration, pressure sores, and depression.” Although the Department lists substandard care among the above forms of intentional abuse, substandard care may not be intentional. Substandard care is more often unintentional but arguably careless or reckless. Our attorneys may be able to show that you were not assigned to the patient or that your care met standards while the care of others did not. We may also retain consulting experts to establish the standard of care and show that you met that standard. You may also have extenuating circumstances for any substandard care for which you were responsible, such as too great of a patient load, inadequate equipment or supplies, and inadequate supervision and support.
Misappropriation as Grounds for Georgia CNA Discipline
The Department's fact sheet also lists the misappropriation of funds or property as grounds for CNA discipline. The fact sheet defines misappropriation as “the deliberate misplacement or misuse of a resident's belongings or money without the resident's consent.” The fact sheet gives these two examples of misappropriation:
- not placing resident funds in separate interest-bearing accounts where required; and
- stealing or embezzling a resident's money or personal property, such as jewelry or clothing.
If you face misappropriation charges, our attorneys may be able to show that you took nothing from the complaining patient, that others may have taken any missing funds or property, and that anything you took, you did so to carry out the patient's instructions for the patient's benefit rather than your own benefit. We may be able to help you locate witnesses and documentary evidence in support of your defense, including evidence that the complaining witness was an unreliable reporter. Department disciplinary officials know that nurse aides and other caretakers often face misappropriation charges, sometimes when entirely innocent, out of their patients' fears and delusions.
Failure to Report as Grounds for Georgia CNA Discipline
The Department's fact sheet also lists the failure to report patient neglect and abuse as potential grounds for discipline. The fact sheet warns, “Anyone can and should report neglect and abuse. If you suspect neglect or abuse, or if a resident tells you they are experiencing this problem, it is important to believe the resident and REPORT THE ALLEGATION IMMEDIATELY.” Georgia Code Section 19-7-5(b) requires health professionals to report suspected child abuse and neglect. Georgia Code Section 30-5-4 and Section 31-8-82 require reports of suspected elder abuse and neglect. You could face CNA discipline if you fail to follow these mandatory reporting laws. You could also face prosecution or civil liability relating to those laws. If you face such disciplinary charges, our attorneys may be able to help you show that you were unaware of the suspected abuse, that you made timely reports, or that you reasonably relied on the instructions and reporting of your supervising nurse or employer.
Credentials Issues as Grounds for Georgia CNA Discipline
While the Department of Community Health does not expressly list these other grounds, you could also face discipline if Georgia Nurse Aide Registry officials believe that your application or renewal included false statements or misleading omissions. If, for instance, you did not complete the training program you claim, did not have the work experience you represented, or have suffered CNA discipline in another state that you did not disclose, then Department disciplinary officials may seek to revoke your CNA license. Our attorneys may be able to help you show that any representations you made were accurate by documenting your coursework, work hours, and other credentials.
Criminal Conviction as Grounds for Georgia CNA Discipline
Section 43-26-11 of Georgia's Nurse Practice Act authorizes discipline for conviction by plea or otherwise of “ any felony, crime involving moral turpitude, or crime violating a federal or state law relating to controlled substances or dangerous drugs….” Employers retaining CNAs in Georgia must also conduct a criminal background check of applicants. Clearly, criminal felony convictions and certain misdemeanor convictions can result in disciplinary charges against you. If you face such charges, our attorneys may be able to help you show disciplinary officials that you did not suffer such a conviction or may be able to help you apply for an exemption, waiver, or appeal of your disqualification.
Drug or Alcohol Abuse as Grounds for Georgia CNA Discipline
Your alleged drug or alcohol abuse could be another ground for CNA disciplinary charges. Drug and alcohol abuse is a serious concern in the nursing profession because it can lead to a CNA's incapacity, poor judgment, dishonesty, and theft with regard to prescription medications. Georgia's Board of Nursing, like boards in other states, thus offers programs and resources for nurses facing addiction issues. If you face such disciplinary charges, our attorneys may be able to help you qualify for one of those programs in ways that preserve your CNA license. Beware of entering such a program on condition that you relinquish your CNA license. Depending on the terms of your consent agreement, you may not be able to get it back.
Recordkeeping Issues as Grounds for Georgia CNA Discipline
Georgia CNAs can also face recordkeeping issues. Keeping accurate patient records can be critical to patient health. Keeping accurate time logs and timesheets can be important to your employer's financial controls. And keeping accurate records of the services you perform can be critical to your employer's compliance with Medicare and insurance billing protocols, rules, and regulations. If you face disciplinary charges for false records, our attorneys may be able to show that others were responsible for recordkeeping rather than you, your entries were accurate, and any inaccuracies caused no harm.
Confidentiality Breaches as Grounds for Georgia CNA Discipline
Georgia CNAs can also face disciplinary charges over unauthorized patient disclosures constituting confidentiality breaches. You shouldn't be sharing your patient's health conditions with those who have no need or right to know. If you face such disciplinary charges, our attorneys may be able to show that you shared no confidences and that the information you shared was for your patient's care and treatment.
Georgia CNA Disciplinary Procedures
Georgia Code Section 31-2-8 expressly authorizes the Georgia Department of Community Health to investigate whether a licensee has violated law, rule, or regulation relating to the license. The same section gives the Department the authority to obtain records and testimony relating to the disciplinary charges. Section 43-26-11 of Georgia's Nurse Practice Act contains similar provisions for disciplinary proceedings against other nurses. Section 50-13-13 of Georgia's Administrative Procedure Act guarantees a CNA the right to an administrative hearing in any contested disciplinary case. The same statute grants you a right to retain your own counsel to represent you before the administrative law judge conducting the hearing. The Administrative Procedure Act also provides for limited court review of agency decisions, including those imposing discipline. Our attorneys can help you invoke your administrative hearing rights and pursue those rights strategically for your best outcome to CNA disciplinary charges.
Nationwide Stakes of Georgia CNA Discipline
The Georgia Department of Community Health recognizes and extends CNA reciprocity to other states who likewise recognize such reciprocity. That stance means that you could take your Georgia CNA license to another state for an endorsement to practice. But you may only do so if your Georgia CNA license remains in good standing. If, instead, you suffer discipline in Georgia, you may find yourself unable to practice as a CNA in any other state.
Premier Georgia Nurse Aide Registry Defense
The Lento Law Firm's premier Professional License Defense Team is available in Atlanta, Macon, Marietta, Albany, and any other Georgia location to defend your CNA license against disciplinary charges. Hundreds of professionals across the nation have wisely trusted the Lento Law Firm for their successful disciplinary outcomes. Call 888.535.3686 or chat with us now.