As a dedicated and compassionate nurse in Louisiana, your professional nursing license is a testament to years of sacrifice and the foundation of your livelihood and financial freedom. To the public, your professional license is a symbol of your expertise and the reason why countless patients over the years will trust you with their lives. However, if your license is at risk of being denied, revoked, or suspended, everything you have worked so hard to achieve may be jeopardized.
Fortunately, many federal and state laws protect your professional nursing license in Louisiana as well as your eNLC license to practice in other compact states. The area of law that governs how your license is issued and what protections are in place should it be suspended or threatened is known as “administrative law.” Administrative law plays a vital role in safeguarding your license, ensuring that you have the right to fair legal proceedings, and preserving your professional reputation.
While it may be tempting to fight license allegations alone, you may be gambling on what you have worked too hard to achieve! Contact national Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team today and let us help you navigate a path forward.
The Scope of Nursing Work in Louisiana
According to the Nurse Supply Report published by the Louisiana State Board Of Nursing in 2021, there are over 65 thousand registered nurses in Louisiana. The report goes on to rank the various nursing fields by employment setting, noting that 60% of Louisiana nurses are employed in hospitals such as Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Centre, Ochsner Medical Centre, and University Medical Centre of New Orleans. Employment numbers were followed by 10% in Ambulatory care and 4% in Home Health Care. Lesser populated employment settings included nurses working in Community Health facilities, Correctional Facilities like Allen Correctional Center or Dixon Correctional Institute, Hospice Care, and Public Health. A smaller percentage of nurses reported employment in administrative roles such as policy work, as well as insurance claims and benefits.
In these roles, most nurses were employed as staff nurses, followed closely by roles in nursing management, nursing educator, advanced practice care nurse, and case managers.
What is Administrative Law?
Administrative law is a branch of law that deals with legal principles and procedures governing administrative agencies such as education, social security, and state nursing boards. These agencies have the authority to enforce the nursing profession's rules and regulations. When it comes to your nursing license, administrative law establishes the framework for licensing, discipline, and appeals.
Why Is Administrative Law Important for Louisiana Nurses?
Administrative law provides you with rights, procedures, and opportunities to defend yourself when facing allegations of misconduct, negligence, or other violations. Our Professional License Defense Team can help you navigate the expansive administrative laws that govern your nursing license.
Due Process is a legal term that affords you the right to be heard, present evidence in your defense, and have a fair and impartial decision-maker review your case. In terms of professional license defense, this simply means that you are given the right to be notified of any challenges to your nursing license and present any favorable evidence to a neutral party rather than an employer, supervisor, hospital board member, etc.
Nursing License Regulation in Louisiana
If your license is potentially at threat of license denial, suspension, or revocation, it is crucial that you are well informed about the relevant legal frameworks that govern your nursing license.
The Louisiana State Board of Licensing
In Louisiana, nursing licenses are regulated by the Louisiana State Board of Nursing (“LSBN”). LSBN boasts that they work to “keep the public safe and nurses performing at their best,” by monitoring nursing performance and protecting the public. The LSBN has the authority to investigate complaints, hold disciplinary hearings, and impose sanctions if a nurse is found in violation of the Louisiana Nursing Practice Act (discussed further below) and related federal and state regulations.
The Nursing Practice Act
The Louisiana Nursing Practice Act, codified in 1950, is the cornerstone of nursing regulations in the state of Louisiana. The act outlines the scope of the nursing practice in the state and sets forth various requirements such as the educational requirements for state licensure, the roles, and responsibilities of various nursing levels (such as registered nurses, interns, advanced practice licensed nurses, etc.) and establishes the grounds for disciplinary action against nurses.
The Louisiana Administrative Code:
As mentioned above, professional license issues for nurses fall under administrative law rather than civil or criminal law. Administrative law in Louisiana is codified under Louisiana's Administrative Code. Title 46 of the code provides professional and occupational standards for nurses, practical nurses, and registered nurses within the state. The code also provides regulations promulgated and enforced by the LSBN to ensure that patients in Louisiana are safe and well-cared for. The LSBN's regulations also cover various aspects of nursing such as license requirements, continuing education requirements, standards of practice, medication administration, and disciplinary proceedings.
The Interstate Nursing Compact
The Interstate Nursing Compact, otherwise known as the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (“eNLC,”) is an offical agreement among participating states that allow nurses to have a multistate license, giving them the ability to practice in their home state as well as other states that are part of the compact. According to the National Council of State Boards Of Nursing, as of 2023, 40 states have opted to participate in the compact except for Oregon, California, Nevada, Alaska, Minnesota, Illinois, Hawaii, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The eNLC is governed by the Board of Nursing, which has the authority to take disciplinary action against all nurses with an eNLC license.
In Louisiana, the Interstate Nursing Compact is implemented in the Louisiana Revised Statutes. The benefits of the compact for Louisiana nurses are numerous and include some of the following:
- Expanded Employment Opportunities: The eNLC allows nurses in Louisiana the ability to practice in the other 39 compact states without the need for additional licensure. This opens a broader range of employment opportunities across state lines, particularly for nurses who may be interested in pursuing traveling nurse positions. This also means that Louisiana nurses can provide virtual or telehealth care to patients in other compact states.
- Streamlined Licensing Process: The eNLC simplifies the licensing process for nurses by establishing uniform requirements and standards across participating states. This eliminates the need for nurses to seek licensure in various states and reduces the headache of maintaining continuing education units and fees across various jurisdictions.
You Must still Comply With Louisiana State Law Even If You Licensed Under the eNLC
Even if you are licensed under the eNLC, nurses must comply with the laws, regulations, and practice requirements in whatever state they are providing patient care. Therefore, if you are practicing in Louisiana, you must still educate yourself on the laws and practice requirements in Louisiana to legally practice nursing care in the state.
How Do I Apply For An eNLC License?
According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, if at the time you applied for your Louisiana Nursing License, you declared Louisiana as your “primary state of residence and met the licensure requirements” of Louisiana, you should have automatically been issued a multistate license.
Can I Lose My eNLC License?
Article III of the eNLC's provisions grants other compact states the ability to pursue disciplinary actions when a nurse violates a state's nursing practice act. Article V of the eNLC allows states to revoke a nurse's ability to practice in their state even if the nurse is still under investigation. In other words, even if you have complied with the nursing requirements in Louisiana and work in a telehealth position in the state of Montana, your ability to practice healthcare in Montana with your eNLC licensure can be revoked while your ability to continue practicing in Louisiana is not threatened.
If you are facing potential suspension or revocation of your ability to practice in one of the eNLC compact states, the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team is well-versed in the requirements, procedures, and disciplinary steps of the eNLC. Contact us today by calling 888-535-3686 or using our online contact form to tell us about your unique circumstances.
What Allegations Place Your Louisiana Nursing License or eNLC License At Risk
Some allegations that could potentially place your nursing license at risk are discussed below.
Professional misconduct allegations encompass a wide range of behaviors that violate the professional standards the LSBN expects of nurses. Professional misconduct allegations can have severe consequences on your license and professional reputation. Even if you are later found innocent and cleared of the alleged misconduct, your career may still be tainted by rumors and gossip. For this reason, you must fight professional misconduct allegations early and effectively. Some examples of professional misconduct can include:
- Incompetence in exercising technical equipment or carrying out patient care
- Substance abuse
- Failure to utilize appropriate judgment.
- Practicing despite a physical or mental impairment that interferes with the judgment or skills necessary to care for patients
- Falsifying records
- Misuse of company or hospital property
- Breaches of patient confidentiality
- Failing to report professional misconduct of peers or superiors.
- Improper sexual relationships with patients, etc.
Criminal charges, convictions, and even arrests can have serious implications on your nursing career. Under the Louisiana Nursing Practice Act, the LSBN is granted authority to oversee nursing violations by its statutory authority granted in § 37:911. In their rules and regulations, the LSBN states that disciplinary action such as license denial, revocation, or suspension may be taken for any nurse or nursing student who is “convicted of a crime or offense which reflects the inability of the nurse to practice nursing with due regard for the health and safety of clients or patients. . .”
If you have been arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime and are wondering what implications this may have on your Louisiana nursing license or licensure under the eNLC, contact our Professional License Defense Team today for help on navigating your unique circumstances.
Standard of Care Violations
Because nurses are at the forefront of saving human lives, they are expected to adhere to a high standard of care when providing services to patients. Standard of care violations may include:
- Medication errors
- Failure to follow protocols
- Actions that deviate from accepted nursing practices
Although professional misconduct issues speak to your ability to safely practice nursing, ethical violations speak to the type of character you must have to practice nursing. Some ethical violations that affect your nursing abilities may include conflicts of interest, boundary violations, or engaging in relationships with patients that breach professional boundaries.
Failure to comply with licensing requirements such as failure to maintain a current license, renew your license, accurately document nursing activities, or failure to report criminal matters can lead to disciplinary action.
The Disciplinary Process in Louisiana
The Louisiana Board of Nursing owes each nurse being investigated due process. Therefore, the LSBN must take several steps to ensure that the accused nurse has the right to respond to or defend the allegations against them.
The Investigatory Phase
According to the LSBN's Disciplinary Procedures, after receiving a complaint about a nurse for issues such as unethical behavior, documentation issues, or professional misconduct, the LSBN must notify you about the nature of the allegations. The LSBN will then assign an investigator to your case and conduct a formal investigation into the nature of the complaint. According to the LSBN's Compliance Procedures, investigations typically take between 3-18 months to complete, after which time they will inform the nurse about the outcome of the investigation in writing.
Throughout the investigatory period, LSBN will request the accused nurse's input, typically in the form of a written explanation. They may also request additional documents, records, reports, evidence, etc. In addition to physical evidence, the LSBN may also request that you complete evaluations such as psychiatric evaluations or even drug testing. The LSBN indicates that failure to complete requested evaluations “would constitute a violation of the Nurse Practice Act and may result in action” by LSBN's Board.
The Complaint and Resolution Phase
If after conducting a formal investigation the LSBN believes there are grounds to file formal charges, they will file a formal complaint charging you with one or more violations of legal licensure requirements. At this point in time, the LSBN seeks to resolve the matter by either proceeding to a board hearing or a voluntary agreement typically referred to as a consent order. A consent order is essentially a settlement agreement in which you agree to the charges against you and agree to comply with any requirements the LSBN may provide for you to retain your license or seek readmission down the line. Each consent order will vary from case to case but may include requirements such as attending anger management, enrolling in substance abuse counseling, completing additional professional education training, etc.
If you do not agree to the consent agreement and accept the charges against you, you have the right to present your side of the story at a formal hearing in front of an administrative law judge. The hearing is run much like a “mini-trial” and allows both parties, you and the Board of Nursing, to present evidence, testify, question witnesses, and present other arguments. Although you may represent yourself at this hearing, this is not advised. The hearings are run like trials and require an in-depth knowledge of legal procedures and timelines as well as extensive knowledge of state evidence laws and the rules and regulations surrounding Louisiana's Nursing Practice Act. Fortunately, the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team has expansive experience representing nurses and other professionals in administrative hearings and can help you by gathering evidence and representing you throughout the entire process, which can sometimes span days to months in time.
Decision and Appeal Phase
If you proceeded to a hearing rather than a consent agreement, you will be notified by mail of the final order. According to the LSBN's disciplinary page, types of discipline may include a formal reprimand, suspension with a probationary period, suspension without a probationary period, or revocation.
While you may choose to accept whatever disciplinary action the board decides, you may also appeal the decision by requesting reconsideration or rehearing of the matter. Similar to the hearing, you are allowed legal counsel throughout the entire appeals process. These requests adhere to strict legal timelines and must be filed within 10 days of the date the board issued their decision. According to the LSBN's guidance on these requests, a petition for reconsideration or rehearing must set forth one of the following grounds for rehearing:
- The decision was clearly contrary to the law and the evidence.
- Newly discovered evidence may be sufficient to reverse the board's decision.
- Some issues presented were not thoroughly examined “to dispose of the case properly.”
- Public interest weighs in favor of further consideration.
Consequences Of Losing Your Nursing License
Professionally, most healthcare institutions require active licensure as a precondition to employment, meaning that you can be terminated for existing employment or face limited job prospects in the future. Aside from the obvious loss of income and benefits that come with unemployment, your professional reputation may also suffer, making it more difficult for you to be employed in other professions, even outside of the healthcare industry.
Losing your nursing license can also affect your personal life and lead to feelings of depression and loss of identity, impacting your mental health. Your relationships such as your friendships, romantic relationships, or parental duties may also be strained as a result of your overall well-being and increased financial stress. Lastly, most professionals who enter the healthcare industry derive personal satisfaction from helping others and servicing their patients and the loss of this daily impact on your life can be extremely challenging.
Given what is at risk if your nursing license is threatened, it's important to take proactive measures to protect not only your license but your livelihood and well-being. Working with the experienced Lento Law Form Professional License Defense Team can provide the support you need to navigate the complex legal and emotional landscape you are facing.
Why Pursue Professional Legal Defense?
Navigating the complex web of nursing laws in Louisiana on your own can be challenging, especially while juggling the emotional stresses that job insecurity can have on every other aspect of your life. If your license is currently facing potential denial, suspension, or revocation, you should contact our Professional License Defense Team immediately. We can provide you with personalized guidance and help develop a defense strategy tailored to your unique needs.
We also understand the complexity between the professional legal defense, administrative proceedings, and state licensing boards. We not only save you the time and stress of navigating this during a period when your future is uncertain, but we do so effectively and competently, taking every possible avenue for success into consideration.
If Your Nursing License Is Under Threat In Louisiana, the Lento Law Firm Can Help!
Administrative law is a highly specialized area that requires in-depth knowledge of the rules, regulations, and procedures unique to Louisiana licensing boards. By working with the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm, you gain access to our experience while we navigate the complex administrative processes by your side. We proudly represent nurses all over Louisiana including the New Orleans Metropolitan area, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Shreveport, Monroe, etc. We can guide you through every step, from responding to initial complaints to presenting a strong defense during an administrative hearing and challenging decisions through appeal.
A license suspension or revocation can have far-reaching consequences beyond your nursing career, affecting your financial stability, relationships, and mental health. Our Professional License Defense Team understands the toll that this can take your life and we work effectively to develop a strategic defense tailored to your unique circumstances. Don't fight these allegations alone! Contact us today by calling 888-535-3686 or tell us about your case online.