Indiana boasts a dedicated workforce of thousands of licensed nurses who diligently work to safeguard patient health. Nurses represent the most substantial segment of healthcare professionals in the state, playing a crucial role in the health and well-being of its residents. Their high level of competence and respect within the profession is well-acknowledged.
Yet, despite their comprehensive training and qualifications, nurses often find their licenses jeopardized due to misunderstandings, complaints from dissatisfied patients, or various workplace challenges. Regrettably, this leads to frequent investigations, with some nurses in Indiana even losing their licenses and the ability to continue in their chosen careers.
At the Lento Law Firm, we're acutely aware of the intense scrutiny you may encounter in your role, particularly for those working with nursing agencies that place you in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and other medical facilities. Being contracted rather than directly employed can sometimes increase the risk of facing allegations of unprofessional conduct.
In situations where your nursing license is threatened, it's imperative to defend it using all available resources. Relying solely on the nursing board or your employer for protection might not suffice. However, you can trust the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm. We are committed to supporting you throughout the process, ensuring your license is protected.
Indiana State Board of Nursing
In Indiana, the responsibility of licensing nurses falls to the Indiana State Board of Nursing (ISBN), which is part of the larger Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (PLA). All nurses seeking licensure or renewal must do so through ISBN, which also oversees the complaint and hearing procedures in cases of alleged misconduct.
Additionally, PLA maintains a database of professional licenses that is accessible to anyone. Any professional license issued in the state can easily be searched and verified. There's also a disciplinary action list on the PLA website, which shows all the professional licensees in the state that have complaints or board disciplinary action taken against them. Anyone can look up your license status, including the medical facilities you work with, your employment agency, or your patients. They can see if you're currently under investigation as well.
Maintaining a spotless disciplinary record is particularly beneficial if you're aiming to join a nursing agency. Medical facilities partnering with your agency often prefer nurses without previous issues with the board.
To ensure your disciplinary record remains unblemished, it's important to take steps to prevent board action against your license. Should you become aware of a potential investigation by your agency or the board, it's crucial to reach out to the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm. Engaging our services early is advantageous, but we are ready to assist at any point in the disciplinary process, including during appeals, to support your fight to maintain your nursing license.
Potential Sanctions for Agency Nurses in Indiana
In Indiana, the ISBN takes nurse licensure and license renewal very seriously. The board is tasked with ensuring licensees are qualified to serve the public welfare, and if they aren't, it's compelled to take action. If you are accused of wrongdoing while on the job, the Indiana Nursing Board may launch an investigation against you. In the event the board finds you responsible for a violation, it could take one or more of the following disciplinary actions against your license:
- Permanently revocation
- Practitioner censure
- Letter of reprimand
- Fine of up to $1,000
Note that if you are placed on probation, you may be required to regularly report to the board, limit your practice to certain areas, continue your professional education under a preceptor, pay restitution, provide service without compensation, or complete another act that the board deems appropriate.
Any of these sanctions can have a tremendous impact on your career as an agency nurse. Minor sanctions like a letter of reprimand or going on probation might not seem like a big deal, but they can come back to haunt you later. Those actions stay on your license record and might lead to harsher punishments if you get accused of violations again. They may also lead your agency to terminate your employment contract or force you to go on a probationary period with your employer. Most agency nurses don't understand the ripple effects of these sanctions and how they still affect their professional lives, even years afterward.
Anyone Can File a Formal Complaint Against You
Anyone from the general public has the ability to submit a complaint against you using the PLA website. Additionally, the identity of the complainant is kept confidential, so you won't be able to find out who made the complaint against you unless they are required to attend the hearing. It's also important to note that certain individuals are legally required to report issues related to healthcare professions. They must file a complaint if they suspect there is a risk to patient safety.
Grounds for Discipline for Agency Nurses in Indiana
ISBN can take disciplinary action against your nursing license in Indiana if you are found responsible for any of the following violations:
- Engaging in or knowingly cooperating in fraud in order to obtain a license
- Cheating on a licensing examination
- Engaging in fraud in professional activities
- Advertising services in a false and misleading manner
- Conviction of a crime involving fraudulent billing practices
- Conviction of a crime that has a direct bearing on your ability to practice competently or is harmful to the public
- Knowingly violating any state statute or rule
- Continuing to practice although you're unfit due to professional incompetence
- Continuing to practice after failing to stay current on professional theory or practice
- Continuing to practice although you're unfit due to physical or mental disability
- Addiction to, abuse of, or severe dependency upon alcohol or other drugs that impairs your ability to practice safely and endangers the public
- Engaging in lewd or immoral conduct in connection with delivery of services to the public
- Allowing someone else to use your name or license for services beyond the scope of their training, experience, or competence
- Disciplinary action taken against your license in another state or jurisdiction
- Diverting a legend drug or any other drug or device issued under a drug order for another person
- Knowingly prescribing, selling, or administering any drug classified as a narcotic, addicting, or dangerous to a habitue or addict—except as provided by law
- Failing to comply with a sanction order imposed by ISBN
- Engaging in sexual contact with a patient under your care
- Using the patient-practitioner relationship to solicit sexual contact with a patient under your care
- Collecting or attempting to collect sums from an enrollee in a health maintenance organization that are owed to the organization
- Assisting someone else in committing a violation
- Failing to report suspected child abuse
- Failing to provide information to the board about human trafficking
If you're a nurse employed by an agency, it's vital to consider how certain standards might impact you differently than those working directly for medical facilities. For instance, it's your responsibility to ensure the agency is fully updated with your latest credentials, ongoing education, certifications, and skill level. You want to prevent any misrepresentation of your qualifications to medical facilities during your placement. Should the agency mistakenly ascribe skills to you that you don't have, it's you who will face repercussions with the Nursing Board, not the agency.
We at the Lento Law Firm recognize the immense pressures nurses face daily in their roles. Striking a balance between delivering top-notch patient care and adhering to ethical standards can be challenging. There are times when the right course of action might be unclear, or you might face opposition from a patient's family who disagrees with your decisions, possibly leading them to file complaints questioning your abilities. Nurses' performance can easily become a subject of scrutiny. The board is obligated to look into every complaint against licensed and registered nurses, regardless of its validity.
Our Professional License Defense attorneys are here to guide you through the intricate and often perplexing disciplinary process. We are determined to prevent trivial complaints or misunderstandings with your agency from undermining your hard work. A minor disciplinary issue can damage the professional reputation you've worked hard to establish. Our team is ready to help you understand your rights throughout the investigation, hearing, and the entire disciplinary process, enabling you to defend yourself effectively.
Telling Your Side of the Story Doesn't Always Work
We have frequently assisted agency nurses and other medical professionals in defending their licenses in situations where no wrongdoing occurred. Often, these investigations and disciplinary actions stem from misunderstandings or miscommunications, leading nurses to believe that simply explaining their perspective would resolve the issue and dismiss the charges. Unfortunately, this strategy is not always effective. Merely presenting the truth may not be enough to safeguard nurses whose licenses are under scrutiny.
Nursing boards don't always make decisions that are just and logical regarding nursing licenses, even with all the facts at hand. Common errors made by boards include:
- Failing to collect sufficient evidence, which could significantly alter the outcome
- Holding biases toward the complainant
- Choosing to overlook certain evidence or testimonies due to complex administrative regulations
- Not drawing appropriate conclusions from the available information
ISBN is known for its stringent actions against Indiana nurses, irrespective of their employment status. In many instances, these nurses did not breach the Nurse Practice Act. In other cases, the sanctions imposed were disproportionately harsh.
It's essential to recognize that ISBN's primary focus is on public health and safety, often leading to a cautious approach that favors revoking a nurse's license over potentially risking public health. This situation places nurses in a challenging position, necessitating a robust defense.
While ISBN may not advocate for you, the Lento Law Firm does. Our Professional License Defense Team is committed to helping you vindicate your name and safeguard your license. We aim to hold ISBN accountable, ensuring you receive a fair disciplinary process and the opportunity to retain your license.
Indiana State Board of Nursing Adjudication Process
In Indiana, complaints concerning agency nurses can go to either PLA or directly to the Attorney General. Once the formal complaint is filed, the adjudication process begins. This process includes an investigation by the Attorney General, a prehearing conference, a hearing, and an appeal.
The Attorney General reviews the complaint first and then decides whether to present it to ISBN. The Attorney General will only ask ISBN to seek disciplinary action against you if they think the complaint has merit. ISBN doesn't have a choice when it comes to pursuing disciplinary action—it's the Attorney General that decides. However, ISBN is responsible for scheduling and holding a hearing.
Before the hearing takes place, there may be a prehearing conference. At this conference, you, the administrative law judge on your case, your attorney, and the representative from the Attorney General's office will sit down and discuss the matter. It's an opportunity to explore settlement possibilities or come to a resolution without having to have a formal hearing. If all the parties do decide to have a hearing, then rules for the hearing (such as what kind of evidence is allowed) are set at this conference.
Also, it's important to keep in mind that the administrative law judge can authorize subpoenas, discovery orders, and protective orders. You may be issued a subpoena, which will require you to submit documents or other information (within the limits of the law when it comes to patient records).
The deputy attorney general represents the state, and you can either represent yourself at the hearing or hire an attorney to represent you. Hearings take place in front of the board and an administrative law judge appointed by the board.
At the hearing, you can:
- Present evidence in your favor
- Respond to questions and evidence from the opposing side
- Present arguments in your favor
- Cross-examine witnesses
- Submit rebuttal evidence
The administrative law judge must make a decision based on the evidence and arguments presented at the hearing. The judge also has 90 days once the hearing is over to make a decision and submit an order to the board. Then, the board makes a final order.
If you don't like the board's final order, you can apply for a rehearing. Keep in mind that the rehearing can only take place if you showed up to the original hearing or there's newly discovered evidence. You also have the option to file for judicial review, but only after you've exhausted all other administrative remedies. To file for judicial review, you must submit a petition in the appropriate court of law. While the judicial review is ongoing, you can also apply for a stay in the agency's disciplinary action until the matter is settled.
Indiana's administrative law code also provides for a “summary judgment.” The board can take this action if it feels that having a license is an immediate threat to public health and safety. A summary judgment puts your license on suspension immediately and lasts 90 days. The board can issue a summary suspension at any time during the adjudication and appeals process as well.
Navigating the process of defending your nursing license can be intricate and daunting, especially if it's your first experience with such matters. The journey can quickly become overwhelming. Engaging an attorney is not just beneficial for keeping everything organized; it also offers you guidance and gives you someone to advise you on all points related to your case. The Lento Law Firm is prepared to guide you through this disciplinary process.
We Provide License Defense to Agency Nurses Throughout Indiana
Our Professional License Defense Team assists agency nurses working throughout the state of Indiana. We can help nurses in the following cities:
- Fort Wayne
- South Bend
- Terre Haute
Even if you don't see your city listed above, our team can still help you defend your nursing license. We encourage you to get in contact with us so we can discuss the details of your case.
Do You Really Need an Attorney to Defend Your License?
When facing the prospect of professional discipline from ISBN, you may question the need for legal assistance. It's critical to understand the seriousness of such sanctions and why enlisting the Lento Law Firm Team could be beneficial:
- Challenges in Self-Representation: Defending yourself often means disproving allegations, effectively placing you in a position of “guilty until proven innocent.” A robust defense strategy is vital, and our team formulates one tailored to your needs.
- Facing a State Department: Challenging a complaint through the nursing board is essentially contesting a state entity. Our legal team is well-equipped to help you manage the situation and protect your rights.
- Navigating Unfamiliar Terrain: Many nurses we represent are new to disciplinary proceedings. Our experienced team will provide thorough guidance throughout the process.
- Our Track Record with Agency Nurses: Our history of successfully defending nurses against licensing penalties is a testament to our dedication to resolving your case effectively.
With our team handling your defense, you can concentrate on your personal and professional life without the burden of license sanctions.
Our Service Commitments
Our primary goal at Lento Law Firm Team is to clear your name and prevent sanctions. If sanctions are inevitable, we strive to minimize their impact. Our approach includes:
- Identifying Optimal Outcomes: We recognize the variations in each case, from false accusations to acknowledgments of errors under stress. Understanding these subtleties is key to our strategy and helping you set your expectations for how the matter will be resolved.
- Thorough Evidence Collection: We conduct independent investigations, gathering crucial evidence and witness statements to build a strong defense for nursing licensure cases. We don't rely solely on the fact-findings made by ISBN.
- Exploring Settlements Outside Court: We actively engage in negotiations with ISBN and relevant parties. Conducting informal settlements often leads to quicker, more favorable outcomes for everyone involved.
- Guidance in Formal Proceedings: If your case goes to adjudication, we stand with you at every step, from meetings to hearings, and handle any necessary appeals for you.
- Exploring All Legal Options: We're committed to exploring every legal route to protect your nursing license, including actions beyond standard appeals. If it comes to it, we can even help you file a lawsuit. We'll let you know what your options are as the situation evolves.
As a national legal team experienced in dealing with professional licensing boards and their attorneys, we tailor our strategy to each client's unique situation, aiming for the best possible result.
Call the Lento Law Firm for Robus Nursing License Defense
Protecting your nursing license is crucial, and it becomes our primary focus when you choose our Professional License Defense Team. We are dedicated to meticulously collecting evidence, speaking with witnesses, managing legal documents, and executing other necessary steps to establish an effective defense for your nursing license.
To discuss your case, contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 for a consultation. You can also fill out our online form with the specifics of your case, and a team member will promptly respond to you.