Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Can Help When Your Indiana CNA License is at Risk
Certified nurse aides (CNAs) are important parts of the medical field, especially in nursing homes or long-term care facilities where residents need additional care that goes outside the bounds of simple medical care. As such, Indiana is keen to hold CNAs to particular standards and to adjudicate any issues of misconduct or other kinds of violations of those standards. CNAs who are found responsible for violating the state's standards will be held accountable, which could lead to unnecessarily harsh sanctions.
The minute you are notified of a complaint against you, you need to begin building your defense. This includes gathering evidence and witness testimony that supports your argument and presenting it in front of the Indiana Department of Health. To succeed, you will need to persuade the adjudicating official that you did not commit the accused conduct. Unfortunately, many CNAs believe they can take on these disciplinary proceedings with little to no guidance from an experienced attorney-advisor and end up losing their case. The Lento Law Firm Professional Defense Team will be able to guide you through the defense process and mitigate potential consequences. Call our offices today.
Indiana Department of Health License Proceedings
Unlike registered nurse licenses or advanced practice registered nurse licenses, a CNA license is overseen by the Department of Health. CNAs usually work with more fragile populations - like the elderly or disabled individuals who cannot care for themselves. Because of this, the Department of Health (DOH) is committed to protecting their safety and well-being, so they make sure the CNAs are behaving in a particular way and not endangering their patients. For example, if a CNA is accused of failing to maintain patient confidentiality and the patient files a formal complaint, the DOH will launch an investigation into the accusation. If the DOH finds that the CNA is responsible for violating patient confidentiality, they could have their certification suspended, revoked, or limited in some other way.
The rules and regulations that oversee CNA licenses in Indiana are not only difficult to find but vague in their explanation. For instance, one of the responsibilities of a CNA is to ensure they are always asking questions when they need help. If they fail to ask a question and that incident is linked to a patient's care outcome, they could be punished. Other professions have many more safeguards, including stronger regulatory language, to prevent their members from being frivolously accused and disciplined. But because CNA programs take about 8 weeks to complete, the regulatory language is not as easily available. Thus, it is quite unfair to be accused of, and punished for, something as simple as forgetting to ask a question, especially when it has such long-term consequences.
If you are unsure of how to present a defense or where to start when you first receive notice of the accusation, Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team can help. They will scour the legislation looking for the particular rules that govern CNAs, and determine if there was a violation or if there was some sort of miscommunication that could negatively affect the outcome of the matter and how to appropriately defend against it.
Types of Nursing Licenses in Indiana
Just like other states, Indiana has several types of nursing licenses, including licensed practical nurses (LPN), registered nurses (RN), and advanced practical registered nurses (APRN). In addition to these licenses are Certified Nurse Aide licenses.
The specific requirements to become a CNA change depending on where the person is coming from in life. For instance, student nurses must be currently enrolled in a nursing program, have completed fundamentals of nursing with a C or better, and have passed both the written and skills competency exams to be considered for a CNA. But if the individual was a nurse that graduated but has yet to pass the boards, they can still qualify for a CNA as long as they graduated in the last two years, completed fundamentals of nursing with a C or higher, and passed both the written and skills competency examination.
While the requirements to become a CNA vary depending on where the individual is coming from, any kind of accusation against the individual will result in serious consequences. These consequences will not only affect your professional life by inhibiting you from working but also negatively affect your personal life by imposing restrictions on where you can live or what kind of life you can provide for your family.
If you are accused of misconduct, the Lento Law Firm Professional Defense Team can prepare you for disciplinary hearings and prevent your license from being restricted, suspended, or revoked outright. Call the Lento Law Firm today.
Nursing License Compact for Indiana Certified Nurse Aides
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) created the Nursing License Compact in the early 2000s to create a more cohesive licensing standard for LPNs, RNs, and APRNs. This compact then evolved into the Enhanced Nursing License Compact (eNLC) in 2018, with the hope that it would provide nurses with more clarity around the regulations and standards that govern their licenses. As of today, over 40 states and territories have joined the compact. Unfortunately, certified nurse aide licenses do not fall under the NLC or the eNLC. As such, each state has its own requirements and standards that a CNA must follow in order to maintain the validity of their license.
In addition to creating the eNLC, the NCSBN also created Nursys, which is an online database and notification system that tells nurses when they have to renew their license. It also allows other organizations to validate nursing licenses. However, because CNAs are governed by the individual state they hold their certification, there are other ways to verify them. For instance, in Indiana, individuals can go here to search for a license and ensure it is valid.
While CNAs are not governed by the eNLC, being found responsible for misconduct in Indiana can still impact their ability to get a certification in another state. Moreover, it can prevent them from pursuing higher education. For instance, if a CNA is found responsible for misconduct and then tries to apply to an LPN or RN program, the admissions board will learn of the incident, and it will likely affect their admissions decision. To prevent such far-reaching consequences, it is important to work with an experienced attorney-advisor from the moment you learn of the complaint.
The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Can Help Wherever You Are
While most attorneys and law firms are stuck helping CNAs in the state they practice in, Attorney-advisor Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense team have the ability to
- Trilogy Health Services
- Franciscan Health
- Indiana University Health
- CarDon & Associates
- Maxim Healthcare Services
- Beacon Health System
- Parkview Health
- Greenwood Village South
- Interim HealthCare
- Baptist Health System KY & IN
- Community Health Network (Indiana)
- Independence Village throughout Indiana
- Cone Health i
- VA Health
- Memorial Hospital and Health Care
- Always Best Care Senior Services
- Regency Hospital
- Englewood Health
- Heart to Heart Hospice
- BrightStar Care
- Witham Health
- Saint Joseph Health System
- Daviess Community Hospital
- Cumberland Trace
- Hendricks Regional Health
- La Porte Regional Health System
- Elkhart General Healthcare System
- Woodland Manor Nursing and Rehab
What Types of Allegations Can Put a Certified Nurse Aide License at Risk?
Certified Nurse Aides work under the supervision of a licensed nurse, like an LPN, RN, or APRN. While the licensing requirements aren't as rigorous as an LPN, RN, or APRN license, the Department of Health still instills particular professional and ethical standards over CNAs. These standards are very similar to those that LPN, RN, or APRNs are held to. For instance, CNAs must avoid the following conduct:
- Being found guilty by a court of law of abusing, neglecting, or mistreating residents in a long-term care facility or nursing home.
- Neglecting, mistreating, or abusing a patient, family, or other staff member.
- Misappropriating resident or facility property.
- Violating patient confidentiality.
- Practicing as a CNA without a valid certification.
- Practicing as a CNA with a fake or false certification, diploma, or other document.
- Providing incompetent care.
- Using drugs or drinking alcohol while working.
- Having a substance abuse problem that affects a CNAs ability to perform their duties well.
- Driving while under the influence.
- Physically, sexually, or emotionally abusing a patient, their family, or other staff members.
- Injuring a patient.
- Giving a patient the wrong medication or administering medication improperly.
- Abandoning a patient.
If the Department of Health receives a complaint that you violated one of these items above, they will begin a resolution process to ensure you are held accountable for the alleged action. In Indiana, punishments might range from something like a written reprimand to full revocation of your CNA. When you learn of the complaint against you, contact an Attorney-advisor immediately.
Attorney-advisor Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team will make it a priority to try and mitigate any negative consequences you might face from the DOH. Additionally, they will be able to gather evidence and witnesses on your behalf, giving you a headstart on any criminal charges or civil claims that might also arise out of this incident.
Exemptions for Certified Nurse Aides in Indiana
Just like other states, Indiana has a good samaritan law that protects CNAs from providing care in certain situations. If the CNAs actions fall under this exemption, the CNA cannot be adjudicated under a disciplinary complaint. Under the law, the following scenarios are exempt from litigation:
- Individuals who provide medical advice or treatment during an emergency or at the scene of an accident. This includes failing to act during an emergency or at the scene of an accident.
- Individuals who use automatic external defibrillators during an emergency, as long as they were not acting out of gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.
The exemption to these exemptions is that emergency care must be rendered without looking for an award, and you cannot significantly or purposefully cause more harm than good.
Unfortunately, there are cases where a CNAs actions would fall under one of these exemptions, and the DOH fails to notice - or if they do, they just don't care. Instead of dropping the issue, they continue to adjudicate it, causing harm to the CNA's reputation and forcing them to endure the disciplinary action experience. The best thing you can do if you believe your case falls within one of these exemptions is to reach out to an attorney-advisor.
Attorney-advisor Lento and his team will review the issue and make sure the DOH is well aware of the exemption, which should hopefully prevent you from having to sit through a disciplinary process and any other unnecessary consequences you might face.
What is the Disciplinary Process for Indiana Certified Nurse Aides?
The Indiana Department of Health invites anyone to file complaints against a CNA they believe has violated one of the Department's standards. To file a complaint, the complainant must include a description of their concern. The DOH will review the complaint and determine if the description falls within their purview. The DOH has 10 days to complete this task. If they determine that the complaint is invalid or does not fall within their jurisdiction, they will dismiss it and, potentially, refer it to the correct department - which could be local or federal law enforcement.
While the exact steps for the disciplinary process are not available online, we know from prior cases that it will follow something like the outline explained below. First, the investigator will review the complaint and interview both the complainant and the accused CNA. Once they have enough preliminary evidence, they will decide if the complaint should be pursued.
If the investigator and the DOH wish to pursue the complaint, they will notify all parties of the date and time of the hearing. During the hearing, you will be expected to present evidence and witness testimony that supports your argument of not being responsible for the accused actions. It is very important to work with an attorney-advisor who has the skills and experience to create a strategic defense on your behalf.
Once both sides have presented their arguments and cross-examined one another's witnesses and evidence, the DOH will determine whether the CNA is responsible for the accused conduct. If they determine that the CNA is responsible, they will issue a sanction against them.
Generally, these decisions and sanctions can be appealed to the court system of the state. And in some cases, the Department of Health might, prior to the disciplinary hearing, request that you join a settlement hearing. During this meeting, the DOH will work to get you to agree to a particular settlement agreement. You have the right to have counsel present at this meeting. Attorney-advisor Lento and his team will review the settlement agenda and craft an approach that will help you negotiate with the DOH. And, if an agreement cannot be made, Attorney-advisor Lento will provide you with a plan of action for moving forward.
Many states do not make their laws and statutes available to professionals, despite the fact that they expect the professional to abide by them completely. This is the case for Indiana CNAs. All of the statutes listed on the DOH website are regulations that govern facilities and businesses that hire CNAs. As such, it can feel unfair to be held to a standard that you cannot become familiar with.
This is why it is important to refrain from representing yourself in a disciplinary hearing or settlement meeting. If you were to represent yourself, you'd be running the risk of incurring a harsher than necessary sanction simply because you are unfamiliar with the nuances of the law. Moreover, while DOH decisions are not criminal convictions or civil proceeding decisions, they should be taken just as seriously. No matter the negative outcome, it will affect your life greatly. Not only could you be prevented from working in the field you have the most expertise in, but you could also be forced to uproot your family, move homes, or take positions for well under what you are used to being paid. Consequences like these affect more than just your daily life; they affect your mental health as well.
Attorney-advisor Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional Defense Team have a vast array of experience helping CNAs all over the country. Because of this, they have an unparalleled amount of experience and understanding of these proceedings, which will only boost the outcome of your case.
Why You Need a Certified Nurse Aide License Defense Attorney in Indiana
While the Department of Health in Indiana likes to think that all complaints against a CNA are coming from a logical and founded issue, more often than not, the complaints are simply a matter of spite or personal issues. However, instead of halting the investigation or dismissing the case, they continue to adjudicate it. Additionally, there have been cases where CNAs are not afforded certain due process rights - whether out of ignorance or spite, we aren't sure. The fact remains, though, that when CNAs are not provided with the right to face their accuser, the right to defend themselves, and the right to have counsel or an advisor help them, the DOH is not providing them with due process. Thus, any decision the Indiana DOH makes with respect to the complaint can be easily overturned by the appeals court.
The Nature of Indiana Department of Health Charges Against a Certified Nurse Aide
Any decisions made by the Indiana DOH are only valid within their jurisdiction. These are not criminal convictions or civil penalties that will be adjudicated in state or federal court. But the DOH also has the discretion to refer complaints against a nurse to the appropriate state or federal law enforcement agency, as they see fit, for further investigation.
If the DOH refers the complaint against you to a state or federal court system, and the state or federal court finds you guilty of the accused misconduct, you will not only be prevented from practicing as a CNA in Indiana, and you could also be sent to jail or prison, or forced to pay restitution. To prevent such issues, Attorney-advisor Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team will review the accusations against you and work with local law enforcement and state agencies to negotiate on your behalf.
How The Lento Law Firm Professional Licensing Defense Team Can Help
When you receive your certified nursing assistant license, you never think that disciplinary actions could be brought against you. You are focused on getting to work, providing for yourself and your family, and building the career you've always dreamed of. Being accused of misconduct can throw a major wrench into that dream and derail your future if you do not present an effective defense. Working with an attorney-advisor is the best way to ensure you are fully prepared for anything.
Attorney-advisor Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team have spent years helping certified nursing assistants all over the country overcome disciplinary actions. They will work tirelessly to gather evidence and witness testimony that supports your argument, guaranteeing the best possible outcome for your case. Understand what you are up against. Call 888-535-3686 today or schedule a consultation online.