Nurses in New Mexico undergo extensive education, clinicals, and field practice and must pass the NCLEX examination to enter their profession. This journey is challenging yet fulfilling. As a nurse, your role is indispensable to hospitals and clinics across New Mexico, providing vital care to patients who depend on you.
When someone accuses you of wrongdoing, the professional license you have worked tirelessly to obtain becomes vulnerable, putting your career and reputation at stake. It is crucial to take this threat seriously and seek guidance from a professional license defense attorney who possesses a comprehensive understanding of the disciplinary process for nurses.
The New Mexico Board of Nursing treats allegations of misconduct with utmost seriousness, and it is imperative that you do the same. The Board holds the authority to revoke your license, effectively terminating the profession you have dedicated so much effort to establish.
When your professional Board initiates an investigation into a complaint filed against you by another party, it becomes vital to secure the services of an attorney who specializes in license defense. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his experienced license defense team have provided assistance to nurses like yourself in New Mexico and across the United States, successfully defending their professional licenses. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 or use our online form to discuss your case.
New Mexico Board of Nursing Rules and Standards
When the New Mexico Board of Nursing brings a complaint and potential disciplinary action against you, the Board holds the authority to address these charges according to its own statutory provisions, regulations, and procedures. Each state independently governs its licensed nurses, and the outcome can be career-altering. Don't delay in responding to accusations of professional misconduct. Take action immediately to protect your future. To mount a strong defense, you need effective legal representation. The Lento Law Firm provides legal representation to nurses in New Mexico and across the country. The New Mexico Board of Nursing rules and regulations are detailed and complex. A qualified professional license defense attorney can take proactive measures to protect you against disciplinary charges and your license against suspension or revocation.
Valuing Your New Mexico Nursing License
For the best possible outcome when facing a professional board's disciplinary action, you must devote the time, effort, and resources to defend yourself and your New Mexico nursing license. You already put a lot of time and effort into passing the NCLEX to get your New Mexico nursing licensure. You know the financial, personal, and professional rewards your nursing career brings. Conversely, you know what losing the opportunity to practice will mean. Don't let accusations of professional misconduct and the threat of an investigation by the New Mexico Board of Nursing threaten your license and your future. Protect your investment in your New Mexico nursing license by retaining the Lento Law Firm and its team of professional license defense attorneys.
Increased Stakes of New Mexico Nursing License Charges
New Mexico is among 39 states participating in the national Nurse Licensure Compact. The New Mexico Board of Nursing to share licensing information on the licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered nurses (RNs) it licenses. New Mexico's Compact participation means that with your New Mexico nursing license, you can practice in other states participating in the Nurse Licensure Compact without getting a new license in that other state. But New Mexico's Compact participation also means that if the New Mexico Board of Nursing suspends or revokes your license, the Board will submit the information to the Compact's national Nursys database. Every other participating state, every potential employer, and any non-participating state that references the public Nursys database will know of the Board's disciplinary action against you. Your ability to practice anywhere in the U.S. may be at risk.
What Allegations Put a New Mexico Nursing License at Risk?
New Mexico Board of Nursing lists grounds for disciplinary action in Subsection A of Section 61-3-28 NMSA 1978 of its General Provisions for the Occupational and Professional Licensing for Nurses and Health Care Related Providers. These rules apply to all nurses licensed in New Mexico and all nurses not licensed in New Mexico but who wish to practice in the state as part of the multi-state license privileges through the nurse licensure compact. If the Board finds a nurse "incompetent" or in violation of professional misconduct, the Board has the authority to deny, revoke, or suspend any license or certificate held or applied for under the Nurse Practice Act or reprimand or place a license on probation.
The New Mexico Board of Nursing defines "incompetence" as follows:
- In performing nursing functions, whether direct patient care or the administration/management of that care, a nurse is under a legal duty to possess and to apply the knowledge, skill, and care that is ordinarily possessed and exercised by other nurses of the same licensure status and required by the generally accepted standards, of the profession including those standards outlined in 184.108.40.206 NMAC of these rules.
- The failure to possess or apply such knowledge, skill, and care to a substantial degree constitutes incompetence for disciplinary proceedings.
According to the New Mexico Board of Nursing, "Charges of incompetence may be based on a single act of incompetence or on a course of conduct or series of acts or omissions, which extend over a period of time and which, taken as a whole, demonstrates incompetence." The general provisions go on to state, "It shall not be necessary to show that actual harm resulted from the act or omission or series of acts or omissions, so long as the conduct is of such a character that harm could have resulted to the patient/client or to the public from the act or omission or series of acts or omissions." The General Provisions defines the following actions as professional misconduct:
- dissemination of a patient/client's health information or treatment plan acquired during the course of employment to individuals not entitled to such information and where such information is protected by law or hospital/agency policy from disclosure;
- falsifying or altering patient/client records or personnel records for the purpose of reflecting incorrect or incomplete information;
- misappropriation of money, drugs, or property;
- obtaining or attempting to obtain any fee for patient/client services for one's self or for another through fraud, misrepresentation, or deceit;
- aiding, abetting, assisting, or hiring an individual to violate the nursing practice act or duly promulgated rules of the Board of Nursing;
- obtaining, or attempting to obtain, possessing, administering, or furnishing prescription drugs to any person, including but not limited to one's self, except as directed by a person authorized by law to prescribe;
- failure to follow established procedures and documentation regarding controlled substances;
- failure to make or keep accurate, intelligible entries in records as required by law, policy, and standards for the practice of nursing;
- obtaining or attempting to obtain a license to practice nursing for one's self or for another through fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, or any other act of dishonesty in any phase of the licensure by examination or endorsement process or re-licensure process;
- practicing nursing in New Mexico without a valid, current New Mexico license or permit, or aiding, abetting, or assisting another to practice nursing without a valid, current New Mexico license;
- failure to report a nurse(s) who is suspected of violating the New Mexico Nursing Practice Act or rules;
- intentionally engaging in sexual contact with or toward a patient/client in a manner that is commonly recognized as outside the scope of the individual nurse's practice;
- engaging in the practice of nursing when judgement or physical ability is impaired by alcohol or drugs, or controlled substances;
- Committing acts where the conviction arises from
- employment as a nurse where the intemperance, addiction, incompetence, or unfitness has manifested itself during the course of employment as a nurse in a fashion that is contrary to the provision of good health care or where the mental incompetence has manifested itself during the course of employment as a nurse in a fashion which is contrary to the provisions of good health care;
- failure to follow state and federal laws, policies, and procedures for the prescription and distribution of dangerous drugs, including controlled substances;
- ·practice which is beyond the scope of licensure;
- inappropriate delegation of medication administration, evaluation, and nursing judgment to non-licensed persons;
- verbally or physically abusing a patient/client or colleague;
- failure to maintain appropriate professional boundaries, which may cause harm to the patient.
What Is the Disciplinary Process for New Mexico Nurses?
The New Mexico Board of Nursing conducts disciplinary proceedings in accordance with the Uniform Licensing Act, Section 61-1-1 et seq., NMSA 1978, and Open Meetings Act, Section 10-15-1 et seq., NMSA 1978. The disciplinary process begins the minute the Board receives a complaint. The process can take several weeks to several months to reach a resolution.
Filing of a Complaint
A complaint is either an allegation of a wrongful act or an omission. The persona making an accusation against a licensed professional must file a written complaint with the New Mexico Board of Nursing before a disciplinary proceeding can take place. Anyone, including a Board member, may file a complaint.
A nurse who suspects that a nurse or certificate holder has violated any provision of the Nursing Practice Act or rules of the Board must also file a written complaint with the Board of Nursing unless the nurse or certificate holder suspected of violating the Nursing Practice Act or rules of the Board is a patient and patient confidentiality is involved.
An Investigation of the Complaint
The Board will investigate a complaint it receives to determine if the allegation is a violation of the Nursing Practice Act or rules or laws adopted by the Board. This investigation may result in one of the following:
- a motion to dismiss the complaint if the Board found no violation was committed
- a Board motion to issue a notice of contemplated action (NCA) if a violation exists
Notice of Contemplated Action (NCA)
A NCA is a written notice by the Board that states that the Board is considering taking some form of disciplinary action. The Board's administrative prosecuting attorney drafts the NCA, the Board's executive director or an assistant director in the director's absence, and signs all NCAs on behalf of the Board. The Board then serves the licensee or certificate holder with the NCA.
Request for a Hearing, Notice of Hearing, and Request for Continuance
The Board will send a notice of hearing, designating the date, time, and place of the hearing, to the licensee or certificate holder via certified mail upon receipt of a written request for a hearing. Upon receipt, the licensee may pursue a settlement by negotiating a stipulation and agreeing with the administrative prosecuting attorney at any time prior to the hearing. The proposed stipulation and agreement will be presented to the Board for final approval if a settlement is reached. The Board still holds the authority to require a formal hearing or final approval, amendment, or rejection of the agreement.
If the Board does not reach a settlement, it will hold a hearing. If a licensee fails to appear before the Board after requesting a hearing, the Board may proceed to consider the matter as a default and make a decision. If the licensee does not request a hearing within the time and manner required by the Board, the Board may take up the action contemplated in the NCA at its next regularly scheduled meeting. The action will be final and will not be subject to judicial review.
The Board or a Hearing Officer acting on the direction of the Board conducts all hearings involving licensed professionals. The hearing officer has the authority to rule on all motions. If the Board does not appoint a hearing officer or if the hearing officer is unavailable or unable to proceed, the Board chair or other Board member designated by the Board has the authority to decide pre-hearing or preliminary matters on behalf of the Board. The Board conducts hearings in the same manner as a hearing in a court of law, with the exception that the rules of evidence may be more relaxed in the Board hearing. For example, hearsay evidence is admissible if it is of "a kind commonly relied upon by reasonably prudent people in the conduct of serious affairs." However, disciplinary action against a nursing license or certificate holder must not be based solely on hearsay evidence.
The Board may take testimony, examine witnesses and direct a continuance of any case. It may hold closed or open deliberations before or during a hearing for the settlement or simplification of issues with the consent of the person whose license or certificate is involved. And the executive director, or, in the director's absence, an assistant director or designee has the power to issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses or the production of books, documents, or records pertinent to the matter of a case before the Board.
Decision of the Board
The Board must render its decision at a public meeting where a quorum of the members is present and participating in the decision. The Board must also send a copy of the written decision via certified mail in accordance with the Uniform Licensing Act, Section 61-1-14 NMSA 1978.
Request/Motion to Reopen Disciplinary Proceedings
An applicant denied a license or certificate in New Mexico or a licensee or certificate holder who has had disciplinary action taken by the Board and who wishes to have the case reopened must submit a written request/motion to reopen their case before filing a petition for review with the district court. The Board will vote to consider whether to grant or refuse the applicant/licensee or certificate holder request/motion to reopen the case, based on the Uniform Licensing Act 61-1-21 and Open Meetings Act 10-15- 1 NMSA 1978. (1990 supplement) Uniform Licensing Act 61-1-21 NMSA 1978 and Open Meetings Act Subsection E of Section 10-15-1 NMSA 1978.
The Board's decision to grant or refuse the request/motion to reopen the case is signed by and sent to the applicant/licensee or certificate holder within 15 days after receipt of the request/motion. The administrative prosecuting attorney must be apprised of any decision of the Board to reopen a case and shall be allowed to respond to the motion.
The Board will schedule a formal hearing of the case at its next regularly scheduled meeting. It will send a notice of the hearing by certified mail to the applicant/licensee or certificate holder within 15 days after service of the decision to grant the request/motion to reopen. The Board has the discretion to grant or refuse the reopening of a case, and the decision is not reviewable unless there is an abuse of discretion.
Public Notification of Disciplinary Action
The Board will make public its disciplinary action in accordance with the Open Meetings Act, Section 10-15-1 et seq., NMSA 1978, in the following manners:
- Code information about the disciplinary action into a computer and in the licensee's or certificate holder's file
- Submit the information to the national council of state board's disciplinary data bank/national practitioner data bank.
- Publish the information in the Board's newsletter and on its website.
Reinstatement of License or Certificate
Individuals who request reinstatement of their license or certificate or that the Board lifts their probation must prepare to provide the Board with evidence to support their request. This evidence may be in the form of written reports or verbal testimony from individuals who know about the licensee's or certificate holder's activities and progress during the period of probation, suspension, or revocation.
Requests for reinstatement of a revoked license or certificate cannot be made less than one year from the date of the order of revocation unless provided for in the order of revocation, which is usually the date the Board chairman signed the order of revocation or suspension unless otherwise specified in the order. To have a revoked or suspended license reinstated, the licensee must provide proof of meeting the renewal requirements as set forth in the rules adopted by the Board and pay the reinstatement of the current or lapsed license fee.
Why You Need a New Mexico Nursing License Defense Attorney
The New Mexico Board of Nursing is committed to prioritizing public safety above all else. If someone accuses you of professional misconduct, the Board holds the authority to take disciplinary measures against you, which could potentially result in the suspension or revocation of your professional license. Such a threat to your license jeopardizes your career, reputation, and livelihood and demands immediate attention and action. It is crucial to seek guidance from a proficient attorney experienced in safeguarding licensed professionals.
An attorney experienced in defending licensed professionals offers a comprehensive understanding of the legal intricacies affecting the nursing landscape in New Mexico. Your attorney will investigate the allegations made against you and assist in constructing a robust defense strategy right from the outset, thereby increasing your chances of having the case dismissed. If your case proceeds to the disciplinary process, your attorney will navigate each stage, aiming for reduced penalties, skillfully negotiating the most favorable outcome in a Notice of Contemplated Action, or providing a vigorous defense during a formal hearing before the Board. Entrusting your legal matters to a professional license defense attorney ensures peace of mind, knowing that a professional handles all the legal aspects of your case.
You have invested considerable time and effort into earning your nursing degree and meeting the stringent standards set by the New Mexico Board of Nursing. Don't let a complaint tarnish your career and future prospects. Call attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team of professional license defense attorneys today. They have assisted nurses just like you in New Mexico and across the United States in defending their professional licenses. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 or use our online form to discuss your case.