The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Can Help Protect Your Mississippi CNA License
Most people know how important doctors and nurses are to the medical field, but the reality is that certified nurse aides (CNAs) also play a huge part in caring for patients, especially those in long-term residential facilities and nursing homes. Mississippi is committed to ensuring the patients in their facilities feel safe and protected at all stages of their stay. But to make sure this is true, they specify certain professional and ethical rules that CNAs must follow to stay in good standing with the state. If a CNA is accused of violating one of these rules, the state is quick to adjudicate the issue.
Being accused of misconduct can make you feel like you are completely alone. You have worked so hard to get where you are, and it is important to remember that you have options. You are not alone. The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team can help. Call 888-535-3686 today for help.
Mississippi Department of Health License Proceedings
The Mississippi Department of Health is responsible for overseeing the licensing of CNAs in Mississippi, as well as the disciplinary process. As we explained above, CNAs tend to work for fragile populations, like disabled individuals and the elderly, who are unable to care for themselves. Thus, the Department is committed to making sure CNAs are held accountable if there are any kinds of complaints made against them.
For instance, if a CNA is accused of being under the influence of a controlled substance while working, and the Department discovers that they have a significant substance abuse issue that has been affecting their ability to provide proper patient care, they will launch a formal investigation into the matter. They will also determine if sanctions should be imposed on the CNA and, if so, what they should be. For the most part, sanctions include some kind of restriction on the CNA's license, a suspension, or revocation of the license completely with no chance of having it reinstated.
If your license is restricted, suspended, or revoked in any way, it can greatly impact your future. Not only will you be prevented from working as a CNA in Mississippi, but the punishment could also affect your ability to apply for a CNA license in another state. This would then force you to choose another profession and impair your ability to take care of yourself and your family.
The Mississippi Minimum Standards for Certified Nurse Aides regulations outline the exact requirements the state has for an individual to become a CNA, what conduct is and isn't appropriate for a CNA to exhibit, and what education is required to remain in good standing. Luckily, unlike many other states, Mississippi does make these rules easy to access. However, they are still quite vague and hard to understand, which can make it difficult to know how to defend yourself when notified of a complaint that is made against you. For instance, if a CNA receives a complaint of "abuse" but doesn't know that, under the regulations, for the conduct to actually be considered abuse, it cannot have happened as part of the treatment or care given to the patient. If a CNA is unaware of this distinction, it can send them into an incredibly stressful, self-loathing, and depressed state of being, which can then affect their ability to defend themselves appropriately.
The attorney-advisors on the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team understand how confusing regulations can be. That's why they will make sure to explain them to you and help you craft a strong defense, hopefully mitigating any unnecessary consequences from occurring.
Types of Nursing Licenses in Mississippi
In Mississippi, there are many kinds of nursing licenses, including those for Licensed Professional Nurses, Registered Nurses, and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses. The CNA license is a bit different from these other nursing licenses in that it is overseen by the Department of Health and they are overseen by the Board of Nursing. That being said, the requirements for an individual to become a CNA in Mississippi include:
- Graduating from a Mississippi state-approved nurse aide training program.
- Passing the requisite examination and paying all fees.
- Completing a Mississippi-approved registered nurse or licensed practical nurse program within the past 24 months, passing all required examinations, and paying all fees.
- Completing a licensed practice nurse or registered nurse program outside of Mississippi but paying all fees and applying to have the license adopted in Mississippi.
- Having a lapsed CNA from Mississippi or another state in the U.S. and passing the examination retest.
- Being a student nurse but having completed the fundamentals or basic nursing skills of a state-approved licensed practical nurse or registered nurse program within the past 24 months.
- Completing a Mississippi state-approved facility-based nurse aide training program.
- Having a CNA license that was revoked because of a finding of neglect for a minimum of 12 months and successfully petitioning to have the finding removed and retaking the CNA examination.
If you fall into one of these categories, you will be eligible to work in Mississippi as a CNA. Your CNA license remains in good standing for 24 months, at which point it will need to be renewed. Failing to renew your license on time or not being able to show proof that you were employed as a CNA in the last two years can prevent you from working as a CNA in the state. Moreover, if the hospital or state discovers that you are still working without a valid license, you can be brought up on disciplinary charges. Therefore, it is very important to pay attention to these deadlines and, if you are unable to make them, work with an attorney-advisor to ensure the state is aware of the delay.
Nursing License Compact for Mississippi Certified Nurse Aides
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) created the Nursing License Compact (NLC) in the early 2000s to address the confusion that surrounded the rules and regulations that applied to nursing licenses. The hope was that by creating a compact license, they could alleviate this confusion, and nurses would understand what was expected of them, no matter the state they worked in. Then in 2018, the NCSBN revamped the NLC, and it evolved into the Enhanced Nursing License Compact (eNLC).
Once the eNLC was created, it allowed nurses to apply for compact licenses, which allowed them to be licensed in multiple states, cutting down on their application processing time when trying to move to a new state. The idea behind the eNLC is that by having nurses have one license that works in multiple states, it would help the hospitals, patients, nurses, and insurance companies save money while also keeping nurses informed of the rules and regulations they had to uphold, as well as when their licenses needed to be renewed. Essentially, it created a more streamlined process for all involved.
Unfortunately, some states criticized the eNLC, and as of today, 40 states and U.S. territories have joined it. The states that refuse to join do so because they believe the eNLC prevents them from collecting the extra revenue that single-state licenses would offer them and inhibits their ability to track disciplinary measures. They also believe it somehow impacts the growth of telenursing and telemedicine.
In response to the critics, the NCSBN created Nursys, which is an online database and notification system that informs nurses of any complaints against their license, disciplinary proceedings, and when to renew their licenses. It also helps other organizations, like employers, to verify a nurse's license.
While this effort has been made for the nursing licenses, CNA licenses are not covered by the NLC or the eNLC, nor are they included in Nursys. This means that each state must notify every individual CNA of the regulations they have to follow so they can stay in good standing when renewing their license and when a complaint is made against them. For example, in Mississippi, CNA licenses need to be verified by using the Department of Health's license search.
Because it is up to the Department to keep track of all of this, sometimes things fall through the cracks. You might find out about a disciplinary hearing late or not know which regulations you have to follow. Having an attorney-advisor to advocate for you will ensure you are not forced to attend a hearing without time to prepare.
Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Can Help Wherever You Are
At the Lento Law Firm, our attorney-advisors can help CNAs in all parts of the country. Some of the bigger hospitals and facilities we help at in Mississippi include:
- Mississippi Baptist Medical Center
- St. Dominic-Jackson Memorial Hospital
- Memorial Hospital at Gulfport
- Baptist Memorial Hospital-Desoto
- Forrest General Hospital
- Anderson Regional Medical Center
- Delta Health – The Medical Center
- Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital
- Greenwood Leflore Hospital
- Baptist Memorial Hospital – Golden Triangle
- Merit Health Wesley
- Singing River Gulfport Skilled Nursing Facility
- Dunbar Village Terrace
- Jasper County Nursing Home
- Arbor Walk Healthcare Center
- Arrington Living Center
- Azalea Gardens Nursing Center
- Chadwick Nursing and Rehabilitation Center
- Cedars Health Center
- Coastal Health and Rehabilitation Center
- Pass Christian Health and Rehabilitation Center
- Florence Rehabilitation Center and Physical Therapy
- University of Mississippi Medical Center Rehabilitation Center
- Pine Grove Behavioral Health
What Types of Allegations Can Put a Certified Nurse Aide License at Risk?
Mississippi law states that a CNA license can be restricted, suspended, or revoked if the CNA is found responsible for some kind of misconduct. Examples of misconduct in Mississippi include:
- Willfully inflicting physical pain on a patient.
- Intimidating or emotionally abusing a patient.
- Depriving a patient of the goods or services that are necessary for them to maintain their physical, mental, or psychological health.
- Exploiting a patient.
- Secluding a patient against their wishes.
- Physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse.
- Stealing from the patient, visitors, the hospital, or its staff.
- Neglecting a patient.
If the Department of Health receives a complaint against a CNA for one of the above examples of misconduct, they will launch an investigation into the matter immediately. They might also decide to suspend the CNA from working while investigating. The hope is that by preventing the CNA from working near patients, they will prevent them from doing more harm. Unfortunately, all this tends to do is negatively influence the CNA's livelihood and reputation. The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team will be able to negotiate with the Department of Health to try and get them to allow you to continue working with the rest of the matter is being resolved. They will also work quickly and efficiently to make sure there is little to no harm done to your reputation. Call 888-535-3686 today for help.
When the Department of Aging and Disability Services receives a complaint against a CNA, they will start the disciplinary process immediately. They may also move to have the CNA prohibited from working until the matter is resolved, believing it is in the interest of their patient's well-being. Unfortunately, if this happens, it will greatly impact the CNA's livelihood. An attorney-advisor will contact the Department on your behalf to seek permission for you to continue working during the course of the disciplinary process, alleviating some of your stress.
Exemptions for Certified Nurse Aides in Mississippi
Often, CNAs get into situations where they need to provide care to a patient, and if it does not go positively, they end up being prosecuted. But, under the Mississippi Medical Emergency Good Samaritan Act, a CNA who provides help during an emergency situation cannot be charged with a crime even if harm results from the help.
Usually, this law is used in cases where witnesses help individuals who are suffering from a drug overdose. It protects them from being prosecuted if the person dies or gets even more injured while care is being administered. Unfortunately, the Department of Health may still decide to bring a complaint of harm against you even when the situation occurred during an emergency. The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team will be able to remind the Department of this fact and, if necessary, build a defense for your disciplinary hearing around it.
What is the Disciplinary Process for Mississippi Certified Nurse Aides?
According to the Mississippi Minimum Standards for Certified Nurse Aides regulations, once the Department of Health receives information about potential misconduct, such as abuse, neglect, or theft, they will investigate the issue. If they determine, during this initial investigation, that there is enough preliminary evidence to conclude that there might be actual misconduct, they will notify the CNA of the complaint.
Notifications from the state must be made in writing within ten days of finishing the investigation. Additionally, notification will be made to the CNA, the Nurse Aide Registry, and the current administrator of the facility where the incident occurred. When the Nurse Aide Registry receives word of an issue, they will place a disciplinary flag next to the CNA's name in their system to indicate that the investigation has been concluded, the allegations are thought to be valid, and the CNA has been informed of their right to a hearing.
The notice of your right to a hearing will include your right to appeal with counsel, the right to cross-examine all witnesses, present evidence and witness testimony, and the right to refute any testimony or evidence presented by the other side. It is important to note that the formal rules of evidence and procedure will not apply during the hearing and that if you fail to show up for a hearing you requested, you will be waiving your right to a hearing, and the findings made against you will be put on the Nurse Aide Registry.
When you receive word of your right to a hearing, you must opt into it. This hearing will be the only chance you get to fully defend yourself against the complaint. If you don't respond or decide not to pursue the hearing, you will lose out on the opportunity to explain your side of the story and prevent any punishments you might receive.
During the hearing, the licensing agency will first present its case, and then you will have the chance to present your defense. Your attorney-advisor will ensure you have gathered any relevant evidence and witness testimony that will aid in your defense argument. They will also ensure you are prepared for cross-examination.
At the end of the hearing, the Hearing Officer will review the information presented and determine whether the CNA is responsible for the alleged misconduct. Notice of this decision and which punishment will be imposed is sent to the CNA within sixty days of the hearing. This decision is final and cannot be appealed further, so it is incredibly important to prepare a solid defense to ensure you are not being punished unfairly.
Why You Need a Certified Nurse Aide License Defense Attorney in Mississippi
Most complaints come from a place of honest belief that something bad has happened. But there are plenty of other cases against CNAs that are made from spite or boredom. For example, a CNA might be accused of working while under the influence of alcohol because a patient's family member walked by the CNA and smelled alcohol. Only it wasn't drinking alcohol; it was rubbing alcohol that had spilled on her clothes. The family member couldn't tell the difference, and a whole disciplinary proceeding was initiated. The CNA is then forced to suffer through it, hoping to win and be allowed to go back to work.
If something like this has happened to you, an attorney-advisor is your best bet. Without their help, you will have to figure out how to defend yourself well enough to have the complaint dropped. But working with an attorney-advisor will ensure you are being advocated for at every stage, hopefully having the complaint dropped well before any disciplinary measures begin.
The Nature of Mississippi Department of Health Charges Against a Certified Nurse Aide
Any decision made by the Mississippi Department of Health is separate from a decision that would be made in a criminal charge or civil suit. Those types of cases fall under the state or federal courts' authority. But, the Department of Health does have the power to refer matters to state or federal law enforcement if they believe the alleged misconduct is illegal.
Once the Department refers the complaint against a CNA, a judge or jury will have to determine if the defendant is guilty of the alleged crime. If found guilty, you will receive sanctions from the court, which are in addition to the ones you may receive from the Department. Additionally, these sanctions tend to include payments of fines or restitution or incarceration for a certain period of time.
As such, any kind of complaint against you can have serious consequences on both your career and livelihood but also your freedom. The best thing you can do to mitigate such negative consequences is to work with a skilled attorney-advisor the moment you learn of the claims made against you.
How Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Can Help
Working towards a certified nurse aide license in Mississippi can be quite difficult. When you are accused of misconduct, it can feel overwhelming and unnerving. Who do you turn to for help?
The attorney-advisors on the Lento Law Firm Professional Defense Team have spent years helping CNAs accused of misconduct navigate their disciplinary hearings, ensuring they receive the best possible outcome. They understand the challenges working against you and will work tirelessly to gather relevant evidence and witness testimony for your defense. Call 888-535-3686 today or schedule a consultation online.