Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) serve a vital function in the health care system. By law, they are allowed to work independently of anesthesiologists and can provide anesthesia services in any setting: hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, dental offices, and public health centers. Put simply, they are a viable alternative to anesthesiologists, who must have a medical degree. As a result, CRNAs save the health industry millions every single year. In Nevada, for example, CRNAs provide nearly 29 percent of all anesthesia in the state.
Precisely because they are so important, the path to becoming a CRNA isn't an easy one. You didn't just get a bachelor's degree in nursing; you went on and earned a doctorate degree. Then, you had to pass the National Certification Exam. You had to go through the Nevada licensing process, which is never an easy task. So you know: there's nothing scarier than when your license is threatened. If you lose your license, your career is essentially over, and all that hard work is wasted. But it only takes one misconduct allegation, questions about your professional development hours, or issues with the school that granted your degree to put everything in jeopardy.
If you're facing a license investigation in Nevada, you absolutely must take it seriously. That means finding out everything you can about the charges. It means getting a complete grasp on the medical board judicial process. And, most of all, it means getting the best help you can find.
The Lento Law Firm is dedicated to helping professionals defend themselves. Our Professional License Defense Team knows how hard you work, and we want to make sure you're treated fairly and given every opportunity to get the justice you deserve. To find out more about what we can do for you, call us today at 888-535-3686 or use our automated online form.
Just What Can Put Your CRNA License at Risk?
As a Nevada CRNA, you are under the jurisdiction of the Nevada State Board of Nursing. The Board has the power to open an investigation, undertake a formal hearing into your credentials, and initiate disciplinary action against you if necessary. It also sets the rules and regulations you're expected to follow. You're a professional, so you know as well as anyone just how long that list is. Some of the more common reasons for the Board to open an investigation, though, include
- Unprofessional Conduct: Any sort of misbehavior might qualify as “unprofessional,” from verbal abuse of a patient to conducting an inappropriate relationship with a supervisor. Even the way you dress is subject to scrutiny.
- Misuse or Mishandling of Drugs: As a CRNA, you have access to a wide variety of medications. That's a position of trust. As you might expect, if you're caught stealing medications, selling them, or simply using them inappropriately, you can get into serious trouble. You don't have to go that far, though, to be disciplined by the Board. Simply making a mistake in administering medication or anesthesia can be a violation of state law. You could even be charged for failing to properly document the drugs you dispense or submitting the wrong paperwork to a pharmacy.
- Patient Abuse or Neglect: Any allegation of patient abuse will virtually always trigger an investigation, whether the charges concern physical, mental, verbal, or sexual abuse. Again, however, you don't have to have abused a patient to find yourself in trouble. Simply neglecting to attend to your responsibilities to your patients can be grounds for disciplinary action.
- Fraud: Ultimately, any act of dishonesty committed for personal gain qualifies as fraud. Common examples of fraud in the healthcare industry include falsifying patient records, filing inaccurate insurance claims, and overstating your own credentials. You could even find yourself accountable if a patient comes to believe you're an anesthesiologist rather than an anesthetist.
- Criminal Convictions: Finally, Nevada also holds you accountable for your personal behaviors, even when those may have no direct relationship to your professional duties. Criminal convictions are grounds for license suspension or revocation. Even something as minor as a DUI or a domestic abuse charge could put your livelihood at risk.
It doesn't really matter if you've been accused of violating one of these rules or some other rule. Any time you're charged with professional misconduct, you need the best representation you can find. That's the Lento Law Firm.
The Disciplinary Process for CRNAs in Nevada
While the Board of Nursing exercises enormous authority over nurses in Nevada, it cannot simply suspend or revoke your license without cause. In fact, the Board must afford you due process any time a complaint is lodged against you. That process involves four important steps.
- First, someone makes a complaint about you to the Board.
- The Board then undertakes a full hearing into the matter.
- The Board either decides in your favor or issues a disciplinary sanction.
- You have the right to appeal the Board's decision.
Let's take a close look at each of these steps.
The first action in any licensing case is a complaint. Complaints can come from any one of several different sources:
- A patient
- A supervisor
- A colleague
- An employee you supervise
- Other staff
- An insurer
In addition, the Nevada State Board of Nursing is empowered to conduct its own inspections and to prefer charges against you.
A complaint is not the same as a guilty finding, and it is sometimes possible to intervene in a case before it goes further to a hearing. The attorneys at the Lento Law Firm are experienced at negotiating settlements both with complainants and nursing boards.
However, assuming the Board decides to pursue the allegation, it must then issue you a written Notification of the Charge. As part of this Notification, you should be apprised of the details of the allegation as well as all of your due process rights, like your right to a presumption of innocence and your right to advanced notification of any meetings or proceedings. You are also entitled to review all evidence against you in the case prior to the hearing. Maybe your most important right though? Your right to counsel. That means someone from the Lento Law Firm can be at your side, helping you build your defense from the moment you're charged.
Board hearings resemble criminal trials, at least in their general outline. Both sides get to submit evidence, for example. Both sides can call witnesses to testify on their behalf. And, of course, both sides get to raise questions about physical evidence and cross-examine the other side's witnesses. At the end of a hearing, the Board determines whether or not you are Responsible for violating policy and decides what, if any, punishment should be applied.
Furthermore, Nevada state law (632.350) gives you the right to legal representation at any licensing hearing. That means a Lento Law Firm attorney can handle the entire hearing for you, from presenting arguments to questioning witnesses.
However, despite the broad similarity between a criminal trial and a professional license board hearing, there are some key differences. Generally speaking, a Board hearing is far less formal than a trial. Board members will be involved in making the final decision rather than a judge or a jury. Significantly, the Board doesn't use the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. Instead, it employs a lesser legal standard known as “preponderance of the evidence.” According to this standard, members must find you Responsible for a violation if they are more than 50 percent convinced of your guilt.
This is one reason why you need a Lento Law Firm attorney in particular. The average defense attorney has experience in courtrooms but not board hearings. The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team, though, is well-versed in all of the Nevada State Board of Nursing procedures. They've helped hundreds of clients just like you defend their licenses and their careers. They know what you're up against, and they know how to protect your rights.
Nevada state law makes clear that if the Board should find you Not Responsible, the case is at an end. Neither the Complainant nor the Board itself has the power to appeal the decision.
If, on the other hand, the Board should decide you are responsible for an offense, it will then assign a sanction. State law prohibits the Board from issuing a private reprimand. All sanctions must be made public. Approved sanctions can included
- Formal, public reprimand
- Conditions, limitations, or restrictions on the license
- Administrative Fine up to $5,000.
- License Probation
- License Suspension
- License Revocation
Finally, you should understand that all disciplinary sanctions are a matter of public record, available to potential employers and to patients.
If you accept the charges against you and the proposed sanction, the sanction takes immediate effect. However, you have one last option: appeal.
You cannot simply appeal a determination you disagree with. Grounds for appeal are limited to an abuse by the Board of its discretionary authority. There are other restrictions on appeals as well. For instance, you must file your appeal within five days of learning of the hearing outcome.
As far as the appeal itself, while you may submit evidence to support your arguments, you have no opportunity to address the court directly. All decisions are made in closed-door sessions based on documentary evidence. Further, you, as the appellate, bear the burden of proof.
Here again, the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team can be an invaluable resource. They can advise you as to whether an appeal is likely to succeed. In addition, they can work with you to gather evidence and draft documents. Most importantly, they can ensure your rights are respected at every step along the process.
Why You Need a CRNA Professional License Defense Team
You probably have a clear sense at this point of exactly why you need an attorney to help you if your CRNA license should come under threat. Just to recap, though:
- Everything is at stake. In license board hearings, revocation is always a possible outcome. The loss of your license means the loss of your career and everything you've put into it.
- Nursing anesthetist conduct cases can be complicated and difficult to navigate. There may be complex questions at stake, not just about what happened but about what Nevada state law actually says. Attorneys are trained to understand judicial systems and to help clients find their way through them.
- The state board can sometimes be an advocate on your behalf. For instance, it represents your interests to the Nevada state legislature. However, when you've been accused of wrongdoing, you cannot expect your board to be on your side. You need an advocate, someone in your corner, to make sure your interests are protected.
You don't want just any lawyer, though.
The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team is focused specifically on defending professionals. They know the law. They've worked with hundreds of clients. They're familiar with the Nevada state licensing system. If you're looking to make out a will or defend yourself from a DUI, a local attorney may be the perfect option. If you need to defend your CRNA license, though, trust a firm that knows how to do that—that knows the issues at stake, that knows the process, and that knows exactly what you've sacrificed already to get to this point in your career.
What Can the Lento Law Firm Do for You?
Your CRNA license means everything to you. It gives you the right to practice your profession. It certifies that you are qualified and experienced. It lets patients know that you can be trusted. If that license is being threatened in any way, you can't afford to take chances. You absolutely must do everything you can to defend yourself, and that starts with hiring the best legal representation you can.
The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team understands your situation. They've helped hundreds of health care and nursing professionals through similar situations. They know the law. They've studied it, and they keep up with how it continues to grow and evolve. And they know the licensing system in Nevada. If your license is under threat, don't wait. Begin building your defense now.