Georgia's certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are advanced practice nurses with the state-approved credentials to administer various medical controlled substances, including anesthesia. Along with license renewal every two years, CRNAs practicing in Georgia have given years of their lives to graduating with a doctorate, completing complex clinical training, and passing national board exams. Therefore, any instance of disciplinary action threatens a licensee's career and livelihood.
The nationwide Lento Law Firm understands how misconduct allegations and complaints can derail a CRNA's confidence when mixed with daily workplace challenges. With such a great responsibility to the healthcare profession, it's essential that you know where to turn first to keep your credentials intact. Our team understands that licensing boards have strict disciplinary standards and sometimes fail to recognize the nuances of a situation and may move to impose sanctions quickly, like the following:
- Remediation and additional education requirements.
- Probationary period with restriction of responsibilities or practice.
- License suspension or revocation.
CRNAs can land in front of state authorities for a variety of reasons: allegations of misconduct, patient complaints, misunderstandings, and even false accusations. If licensees fail to mount a quick and effective defense, severe consequences are likely. But you have valuable resources available to you with the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team. Our team will lead negotiations with Georgia licensing and regulatory authorities and work towards the most favorable resolution possible. Call us today at 888-535-3686 or submit your details online, and we will contact you.
Georgia State Board of Nursing Licensing Standards
Like other advanced registered nurse practitioners, CNRAs must be licensed by the Georgia Board of Nursing. The Board is given authority by the Licensing Division of the Georgia Secretary of State's Office (SOS) to carry out the application process, monitoring, and disciplining CNRAs. The 13-member Board also upholds requirements set by the Nurse Practice Act to hold all CRNAs accountable to state standards.
One of the most prominent reasons a licensee may find themselves answering to the Board is allegations of unprofessional conduct. While hospitals, schools, and medical facilities may have different thresholds or definitions of unprofessionalism, they must be based on the state legislature's guidelines, including the following:
- Using inappropriate or unsafe judgment with technical skills or interpersonal behaviors in patient care, including performing procedures without education or qualification.
- Disregarding a patient's dignity, confidentiality, or right to privacy.
- Failing to provide medical care because of diagnosis, age, gender, race, belief system, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, or abandoning or knowingly neglecting a patient requiring care.
- Practicing as a CRNA after license expiration date.
- Failing to take action to protect a patient's safety or welfare.
- Engaging in incompetent healthcare practices or failing to report such to the Board.
- Failing to supervise student experiences adequately.
- Causing or permitting physical, emotional, sexual, or verbal abuse, injury, or neglect to patients.
- Providing false information in connection with the practice of nursing.
- Violating state or federal narcotics or controlled substance laws.
- Breaching an order of the Board.
While most of the Board's standards for license holders pertain to workplace settings, situations outside of employment can also affect status. For instance,many criminal convictions or even nolo contendere pleas can cause issues with CRNA licenses. Still, the Board must determine whether the crime is in relation to a CRNA's ability to practice.
Even though rule violations are wide-ranging, misconduct allegations can come from any source through complaints. It isn't just patients, coworkers, or superiors that can submit complaints to the Board; anyone can.
Georgia CRNA Complaint Procedure and Adjudication
The Board will investigate all complaints and allegations of violations involving healthcare practitioners, including CRNAs. Some common instances that may produce complaints are the following:
- The way you characterized yourself to a patient, superior, or licensing authority, including a potential misrepresentation of qualifications, education, or ability.
- The way you conduct yourself with patients, coworkers, and others, even outside the workplace.
The SOS allows anyone to file a complaint with state agencies. Therefore, no Georgia CRNA is immune from baseless or biased complaints. Once the Board receives a complaint against you, an investigation will begin immediately. Depending on the situation, Board investigators will contact licensees for a series of questions.
If the Board determines that a license holder violated any state laws, the Board's guidelines, or complaints are substantiated, they will be subject to disciplinary action like the following:
- Written reprimand
- Mandatory education
- Probationary period
- License suspension
- License revocation
When the Board hands down its proposed sanctions, CRNAs will have the choice to accept them in a consent agreement or challenge the Board's decision. When CRNAs don't voluntarily enter into the agreement, the Board is required to move forward with an administrative hearing.
Administrative Hearing Process
A CNRA is entitled to an administrative hearing performed by Georgia's Office of State Administrative Hearings (OSAH). All parties will receive an official Notice of Hearing detailing the time and place, hearing procedures, and the purpose of the hearing. Both parties will convene before an administrative law judge (ALJ), and before the hearing officially begins, they will have an opportunity to engage in mutual dispute resolution before the case proceeds to a full hearing. However, if no settlement is reached, the ALJ will move forward to official proceedings.
In addition to their duty to conduct a fair and impartial hearing, ALJs may also do the following in case:
- Administer oaths or affirmations.
- Admit, exclude, or limit evidence.
- Examine witnesses or their written testimony.
- Declare any information confidential.
- Order the hearing to be conducted in stages in complex cases.
- Prohibit any person from the hearing for improper conduct.
After opening statements, the ALJ has the discretion for which party may begin their case defense first. Licensees have two fundamental rights during OSAH hearings:
- The right to examine documents.
- The right to request documents be kept off the record.
When requests are made to keep evidence off the record, licensees, state authorities, or other complainants must explain to the ALJ why the document or evidence should not be made part of the record—which may be public.
Closing arguments are the final stage of the administrative hearing, but the ALJ may not render a final decision until afterward. After a review of all evidence and admitted testimony, the ALJ will make a determination on the matter with recommended sanctions, and in most cases, it will not be mailed to the parties but posted on OSAH's website within 30 days of the hearing date.
Consequences of Sanctions
While sanctions for a CRNA will vary depending on the complaint or alleged misconduct, any form of adverse action needs to be taken with the utmost seriousness. Disciplinary actions—even the first instance—can lead to the following consequences:
- Makes you vulnerable to future scrutiny from your employer.
- Become an obstacle to promotions or increased responsibilities.
- Diminish your potential earning power.
- Increase stress and mental health issues, causing professional standards to slip.
In the effort to unify nursing standards across the U.S., Georgia is one of the many states that are a part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). The NLC provides a pathway for CRNAs and other healthcare professionals to practice in multiple states without undergoing additional licensing requirements. But that carries a risk in itself. If CRNAs lose their license to practice in Georgia, they will lose the ability to practice in other NLC-compliant states.
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) is another uniting body for CRNAs nationwide. To provide better access to licensing information, the NCSBN's Nursys database is a primary source for employers and medical facilities. Therefore, anyone with access to the NCSBN's database can:
- Search for CRNA's current license status.
- View a licensee's disciplinary history.
- Make hiring decisions based on the above.
Because of the gravity of complaints and allegations of misconduct for Georgia CRNAs, you must consider partnering with an attorney from the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team. There is no way to forecast how adverse action will affect you, even with minor infractions. Yet, you can be confident that your license remains vulnerable if you fail to mount a strong defense.
How the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Can Help Georgia CRNAs
CRNAs facing administrative sanctions from Georgia state authorities may believe an attorney may be too aggressive an option to exercise with their professional board. However, the Lento Law Firm will be a valuable resource for the following reasons:
- Obtain all relevant evidence and testimony: Our team conducts its own investigation of your circumstances. The right evidence or witness testimony can determine the outcome of your case. Moreover, if a minor lapse in judgment, a stressful day, or other small error occurs, we can help in mitigating potential consequences.
- Seek pre-hearing settlements: We will negotiate with any Offices of General Counsel (OGCs) that have the authority to settle your case and explore other options the Board provides to settle before the OSAH conducts proceedings. Negotiating directly with agency attorneys and OGCs often leads to an efficient, ideal case outcome.
- Accompany you through the complaint process and administrative hearings: If your case must go through the traditional channels, we'll be prepared to defend you every step of the way. We will accompany you to meetings, represent you during your hearing, and file necessary appeals promptly. Moreover, during OSAH hearings, any information used in your defense must be given to the opposing party, and the Lento Law Firm will ensure its procurement.
- Take further legal steps, if necessary: Following the ALJ's decision, the licensee or the Board may seek review by appealing to their county superior court.When yourCRNA license is on the line, we will exercise every available option for defense. Even if we must take legal action beyond appeals to the state's court system, we will.
We are a nationwide legal team experienced in negotiating with professional licensing boards and their attorneys. Considering each client's unique circumstances, our firm always presses for the best possible outcome.
We Serve CRNAs Employed by Medical Providers Throughout Georgia
No matter your employer or specific role as a CRNA, adverse action can have a devastating effect on your career. We serve CRNAs practicing throughout Georgia and are familiar with prominent employers in the medical industry, including:
- Emory University Hospital (Atlanta)
- WellStar Kennestone Hospital (Marietta)
- Northside Hospital Atlanta (Atlanta)
- Emory Johns Creek Hospital (Johns Creek)
- University Hospital Augusta (Augusta)
- Atrium Health Navicent Medical Center (Macon)
- Piedmont Fayette Hospital (Fayetteville)
- Burke Medical Center (Waynesboro)
- Candler County Hospital (Metter)
- Piedmont Atlanta Hospital (Atlanta)
- Emory St. Joseph's Hospital (Atlanta)
- Carl Vinson Veterans Affairs Medical Center (Dublin)
- Augusta University Medical Center (Augusta)
- Piedmont Eastside Medical Center (Snellville)
- Benning Martin Army Community Hospital (Fort Benning)
- Eastern Georgia Regional Medical Center (Statesboro)
- John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital (Thomasville)
- Atrium Health Polk Medical Center (Cedartown)
- AdventHealth Redmond (Rome)
- Piedmont Newton Hospital (Covington)
- Grady Memorial Hospital (Atlanta)
- Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center (Athens)
- Memorial Health University Medical Center (Savannah)
- Northside Hospital Gwinnett (Lawrenceville)
- Northeast Georgia Medical Center (Gainesville)
- Children's Hospital of Georgia (Macon)
- Clinch Memorial Hospital (Homerville)
- Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Savannah (Savannah)
The above are just a few examples of high-volume employers of CRNAs in Georgia. Even if your employer or medical facility is not on this list, we can still offer valuable assistance wherever you are.
Call the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Today
Defending your Georgia CRNA license is a priority, and our team stands prepared to begin on your case today. Resist settling for local trial attorneys who advertise their aggressive courtroom tactics to challenge state licensing authorities. You need the delicate care and attention the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team provides to keep your credentials intact.
Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 today for a consultation about how we will defend your license to practice as a CRNA in Georgia. You can also contact us online with your case details, and a member of our Professional License Defense Team will reach out as soon as possible.