Hawaii Nurse License Defense

Nurses perform one of the truly essential jobs and endure rigorous education and training to obtain their licenses. Protecting your nursing license is paramount, regardless of whether you've made a mistake or are the victim of unjust allegations of wrongdoing.

We often encounter nurses blindsided by disciplinary procedures, and the Hawaii Board of Nursing may be of little comfort or help in responding to your inquiries. Licensing boards sometimes project the sense that you are guilty before reviewing the facts and evidence.

Your license is at stake, and you deserve answers. You also deserve to explain yourself before the licensing board, presenting any facts, testimony, or evidence that suggests you're wrongly accused. An attorney from the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team will represent you, guiding you through the disciplinary process and negotiating with the licensing board as necessary.

Turning to the local attorney with little or no license defense experience could be a monumental mistake when your livelihood lies in the balance. Our team routinely helps nurses and other professionals overcome their licensing problems. Let us help you, too.

The Hawaii Board of Nursing Has the Legal Authority to Suspend or Revoke Your License to Practice

Hawaii Revised Statutes §457-12 grants the Hawaii Board of Nursing broad power to discipline nurses. A nursing license is the most efficient way to punish nurses, as a valid license is necessary to earn a living as a nurse in Hawaii.

While the Board of Nursing in Hawaii has statutory grounds to sanction your license, it cannot legally do so without just cause. And, even if the board has just cause for discipline, that discipline must be commensurate with any wrongdoing a nurse is accused of.

Breaking a rule or having a lapse in judgment is not a valid reason for the Hawaii Board of Nursing to take heavy-handed, draconian discipline against you. You should hire an attorney from the Lento Law Firm team if you're subject to the following:

  • Baseless discipline
  • Excessive discipline
  • Discipline for alleged misconduct that you have not committed, even if you admit to another form of misconduct

Every nurse practicing in Honolulu, Hilo, Pearl City, Kailua, and every other corner of Hawaii deserves respect for the work they've invested in obtaining their license. Just as importantly, you deserve the due process that Hawaii statutes guarantee you.

Licensing Boards Often Issue Inappropriate Rulings, and the Hawaii Board of Nursing Is No Exception

Licensing boards are nothing more than a group of imperfect people with a certain set of credentials and immense power. Being humans, these boards—including the Hawaii Board of Nursing—are prone to make mistakes and may err in a ruling because:

  • The board has some degree of bias toward the nurse who is facing sanctions
  • The board approaches the case in a guilty-until-proven-innocent manner (the opposite of how it should approach nurse licensure issues)
  • The board lacks complete information about the case
  • The board receives false or otherwise unreliable testimony
  • The board simply reaches the wrong conclusion based on the facts, evidence, and testimony presented

Fortunately, Hawaii statutes grant you the right to due process, including but not limited to a hearing, before the board can take disciplinary actions against you.

What Powers Does the Hawaii Board of Nursing Have to Sanction Your License?

Hawaii Revised Statutes §457-12 lists the specific conditions under which the Hawaii Board of Nursing may deny, limit, suspend, or revoke a nursing license. In taking any of these actions, the board may:

  • Prevent you from working
  • Deprive you of your income
  • Permanently harm your reputation
  • Place the onus on your to reinstate your license
  • Cause you substantial mental health issues
  • End your nursing career, depending on the nature of the sanction and your professional circumstances at the time of those sanctions

The board may even file an injunction during your disciplinary proceedings to prevent you from working. Our team may fight against such injunctions, should it make sense.

The Hawaii Board of Nursing may also fine you and “otherwise discipline” you” if “authorized by law” to take such actions. However, the statute contains protections for nurses, such as the rule that the licensing board cannot fine you more than $1,000 for each alleged violation.

The National Nursys Database Ensures That License-Related Problems Will Follow You, Even Outside of Hawaii

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing's (NCSBN) Nursys database is “the only national nurse licensure and disciplinary database.” This database is a storage house for information about practicing nurses, including their licensure status and any discipline on their professional records.

Per the NCSBN, Hawaii participates in Nursys' e-Notify nurse licensure notification system. If you receive license-related sanctions in Hawaii, licensing boards in prospective employers in the 49 other states (plus a handful of territories) will likely be aware of the discipline.

The database may lead a prospective employer to remove you from its candidate pool before you have the opportunity to explain yourself.

Nursys serves as yet another reason to fight pending sanctions against your nursing license in Hawaii.

Allegations That May Endanger Your Ability to Work as a Nurse in Hawaii

Hawaii Revised Statutes § 457-12 lists 12 grounds for the denial, revocation, limitations, or suspension of a nurse's license, noting that other circumstances may also call for discipline. Among the grounds for discipline listed in this statute are:

Fraud or Deceit

Hawaii prohibits misrepresentation in:

  • The process of obtaining a nursing license
  • The process of registering as a nurse
  • The process of practicing as a nurse

If the Hawaii Board of Nursing decides you misrepresented yourself or your credentials at any stage in your nursing career, it may sanction you.

Unfitness or Incompetence

Nurses working in Hawaii may be accused of unfitness or incompetence if a licensing representative, superior, coworker, or patient files a complaint stating that:

  • The nurse does not have the requisite knowledge to occupy the position they currently hold
  • The nurse does not have the skill or coordination necessary to perform work-related procedures
  • The nurse appears under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other impairments
  • The nurse has administered medication in an unsafe manner
  • Any other aspect of the nurse's performance indicates possible incompetence or unfitness

Nurses' competence is a matter of life and death, and every nurse expects to be held to a high-performance standard. However, complaints about unfitness or incompetence may arise from misunderstandings, workplace disagreements, and other grounds that do not warrant disciplinary action.

Criminal Convictions

The Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) explains that all nursing applicants undergo a federal and state criminal background check when they apply for their nursing license in Hawaii.

Hawaii Revised Statutes § 457-12 states that a nurse in Hawaii may face sanctions if they're convicted of or plead no contest to a criminal offense “substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a nurse…”

Such criminal convictions may include:

  • Sexual offenses
  • Child abuse
  • Violent offenses
  • Certain drug-related offenses
  • Other offenses that could indicate possible unfitness as a nurse

If you have been charged but not convicted, or you're convicted of an offense that does not trigger automatic suspension or revocation of your license, our team will prepare a defense of your license. We can also assist if you have had difficulty obtaining your nursing license because of a criminal issue in Hawaii or elsewhere.

Unprofessional Conduct

Hawaii Code of Rules § 16-89-60 defines unprofessional conduct as:

  • Taking the nursing licensure exam for another person, or vice versa
  • Practicing without a valid license
  • Causing psychological, emotional, or physical injury to a patient
  • Violating an employer's safety-related procedures
  • Breaching patient confidentiality rules
  • Taking drugs from a medical facility without clearance
  • Theft of an employer's property
  • Nursing under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Failing to monitor a patient or ensure that a qualified colleague is monitoring the patient
  • Performing nursing duties that you do not have sufficient education or training to complete

While these guidelines for professional conduct seem cut and dry on paper, the world of nursing is far more complex than these rules indicate. Poor employer training, misunderstandings, and miscommunications can all lead a nurse to violate these professionalism guidelines through little or no fault of their own.

Substance Misuse

There are also gray areas within Hawaii's laws that could leave nurses facing sanctions undeservedly. For example, the Office of Medical Cannabis Control and Regulation explains that medicinal marijuana has been legal in Hawaii since 2000. If you are legally prescribed cannabis but face sanctions related to marijuana use, you may need a unique defense.

In fact, every nurse accused of substance misuse in Hawaii needs a defense personalized to them. That personalized defense is precisely what the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team offers.

Many of These Grounds for Discipline Are Subjective

Subjectivity is a common theme within Hawaii's grounds for the discipline of nurses. Terms like “gross immorality,” “unfitness,” and “mental incompetence” are not specific and therefore leave much room for interpretation.

These broad grounds for discipline can also benefit your defense. Your attorney from our firm will argue that your behaviors do not meet the stands for punishment listed in Hawaii statutes. Because terms like “gross immorality” are so broad, the licensing board may face a high standard of proof before issuing discipline against you.

Disciplinary Proceedings Generally Start with a Complaint

Without a complaint to the Hawaii Board of Nursing, there is no apparent reason to take disciplinary measures against you. Therefore, the potential discipline you face could stem from the following:

  • A complaint from an employee of the licensing board, who may have discovered a possible issue during a background check into your education, credentials, or criminal history
  • A colleague or superior who perceives your behavior as unprofessional
  • A patient with whom you had a less-than-perfect interaction
  • Someone who has a personal grudge against you

As part of the defense process, our team will review the complaint and evaluate its merits.

What Disciplinary Procedures Does the Hawaii Board of Nursing Follow?

While there is not ample information available about how the Hawaii Nursing Board conducts its disciplinary procedures, you are entitled to a hearing if you face certain sanctions of your license. During license disciplinary hearings, nurses and their attorneys generally have the opportunity to:

  • Address allegations directly: You and your attorney from our team should have the opportunity to directly address those with the power to dismiss your case or impose discipline. You may use this opportunity to cite your version of events, present potential explanations for the complaint against you, and defend your character.
  • Present exculpatory evidence: Your attorney from our team will present any evidence that suggests the complaint filed against you is baseless, exaggerated, or lacking proper context.
  • Present witness testimony: Though the Hawaii Nursing Board's disciplinary representatives may have the final say over who can testify or provide pre-recorded testimony, you should have the chance to present any testimony that suggests your innocence or indicates your good character.

The Hawaii Nursing Board will conduct an administrative procedure, not a civil or criminal court case. Your attorney from our team will explain the unique procedures that the Nursing Board follows and how you should conduct yourself within these procedures.

Right Now, You Face Mere Allegations. We Will Work to Ensure Allegations Don't Become Fact

Upstanding professionals face allegations of wrongdoing every day. From Kihei to Kapolei, Waipahu to Wahiawa, accomplished doctors, nurses, and other professionals have to defend their names and licenses against allegations. Most of those professionals hire qualified attorneys, just as you should.

The Lento Law Firm Team's primary mission is to ensure that an allegation does not become a matter of fact in the Hawaii Board of Nursing's eyes. You may risk allowing a mere allegation to become a permanent record if:

  • You default in your response to the allegation, failing to put forth any formal refutation of the allegations against you
  • You do not retain an attorney from our firm to prepare a robust, evidence-based defense during your disciplinary hearing
  • You fail to exercise all available appeal options in the case of an adverse ruling
  • You fail to take the license disciplinary process as seriously as you should

You take a sizable step in the right direction when you hire an attorney from the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team.

Real Cases Prove That the Hawaii Board of Nursing Will Take Serious Disciplinary Action

The Hawaii DCCA's Hearings Office maintains a running account of medical professionals who receive fines and license-related sanctions. These cases, including sanctions ranging from thousands of dollars in fines to permanent revocation of licenses, prove that the Hawaii Board of Nursing will take substantial disciplinary action.

Let these cases be a motivation to retain a qualified attorney from the Lento Law Firm Team. We will work tirelessly to ensure your case does not make this docket of disciplinary cases.

How an Attorney from the Lento Law Firm Team Can Defend You and Your Nursing License in Hawaii

We provide wide-ranging license defense services for nurses in Hawaii, and we may defend you by:

  • Investigating the complaint against you: Our team will begin the fact-gathering process immediately. We'll determine where the complaint arose from, get your account of the circumstances that led to the complaint, and begin building our defense.
  • Retaining experts, securing evidence, and interviewing witnesses: As we build your license defense, we will obtain all relevant evidence, speak with witnesses (who may have accounts favorable or unfavorable to your case), and hire any experts whose services or testimony aid in your defense.
  • Accompanying you to your disciplinary hearing: In fact, we will lead your disciplinary hearing to the extent that the Hawaii Board of Nursing permits us to. Depending on our defense strategy, we may have you participate in the hearing (by testifying, for instance).
  • Completing any necessary appeals: If the licensing board issues a ruling that is different from our target case outcome, our team will be ready to appeal immediately upon receiving the decision. That said, our goal is to achieve the target outcome and avoid appeals altogether.

Our team will serve as advisors, defenders of your rights and license, and psychological support during this trying time.

Potential Resolutions to a Hawaii Nursing License Defense Issue

The circumstances of each license defense case in Hawaii are unique, as is your personal and nursing history. The outcome we seek in your case will consider such details and may include the following:

Dismissal of Your Case

We often aim to dismiss the charges against nurses baselessly accused of wrongdoing. Whether through a ruling settlement, or appeal, we don't rest until the client's name and license receive total clearance of wrongdoing.

Negotiated Sanctions

Some clients make errors and admit as much. In these cases, it sometimes makes sense to negotiate the least punitive sanctions possible. For example, some clients are willing to accept a modest fine if it allows them to retain their license.

We Serve Nurses Working for the Largest (and Smallest) Employers of Nurses in Hawaii, Including...

Our firm's familiarity with Hawaii is one of the reasons why nurses turn to us when facing license-related issues. We are acquainted with prominent employers of nurses throughout Hawaii, including:

  • Queen's Medical Center (Honolulu)
  • Kaiser Permanente Moanalua Medical Center (Honolulu)
  • Adventis Health Castle (Kailua)
  • Straub Medical Center (Honolulu)
  • Hale Ho'ola Hamakua Hospital (Honokaa)
  • Hawaii State Hospital (Kaneohe)
  • Hilo Medical Center (Hilo)
  • Kahuku Medical Center (Kahuku)
  • Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children (Honolulu)
  • Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital (Waimea)
  • Ka'u Hospital (Pahala)
  • Kohala Hospital (Kohala)
  • Kona Community Hospital (Kealakekua)
  • Kuakini Medical Center (Honolulu)
  • Kula Hospital (Kula)
  • Lanai Community Hospital (Lanai City)
  • ●Leahi Hospital (Honolulu)
  • Maui Memorial Medical Center (Wailuku)
  • Molokai General Hospital (Kaunakakai)

This is just a sampling of the many Hawaiian medical facilities our team is familiar with.

We serve all nurses whose careers and reputations are in jeopardy. No matter the size or nature of your employer, an attorney from the Lento Law Firm Team will fight for a just outcome in your case.

What the Nurse Interstate Licensure Compact Could Mean for You

As a nurse, you may have heard of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). As the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) explains, this allows nurses practicing in certain states to apply for a multistate license. The idea is that the nurse has sufficient licensure requirements to practice in several states, and their license should reflect these abilities.

If you were in a state that participated in the NLC, the suspension or revocation of your license could come with additional considerations. While 39 states (as of 2023) participate in the Nurse Licensure Compact, Hawaii is not one of those states. For now, sanctions related to your nursing license will likely only affect your ability to practice in Hawaii.

Your nursing license issue is just as significant, though, because you could lose your ability to work in the only state that you are licensed to do so.

Importance of Hiring an Attorney for a Hawaii Nursing License Defense Issue

Some clients completely understand what sanctions on their nursing license could mean. Others believe that, simply because they know they have not committed wrongdoing, there is no credible threat of sanctions. This is simply naive, as countless nurses in Hawaii have lost their livelihoods and hard-earned reputations because of unjust sanctions.

The Lento Law Firm understands the gravity of an allegation. Let our team of attorneys, paralegals, and investigators begin mounting your defense today. There is too much at stake to put forth anything short of the strongest possible defense, and we can help immensely.

Call the Lento Law Firm Today for Help from Professional License Defense Attorneys Serving Hawaii

The Lento Law Firm Team holds a special place in its client roster for nurses, who are among the most selfless employees in the Hawaiian workforce. Nurse license defense cases mean more to us, and it will reflect in the urgency and passion with which we mount your defense.

Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 today for a consultation about how we will fight for your nursing license in Hawaii.


Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are committed to answering your questions about Physician License Defense, Nursing License Defense, Pharmacist License Defense, Psychologist and Psychiatrist License Defense, Dental License Defense, Chiropractic License Defense, Real Estate License Defense, Professional Counseling License Defense, and Other Professional Licenses law issues nationwide.
The Lento Law Firm will gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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