Is Your Nursing Assistant Certification at Risk? Attorney Joseph D. Lento Can Help!
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team help certified nursing assistants whose professional certifications are threatened by allegations of misconduct. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 or use our online form today to schedule a consultation.
What You Should Know About Your Nursing Aide Certification
As a Nurse Aide in New York, your certification is crucial to your livelihood. Nursing aides are an important aspect of our healthcare system. These professionals work on the front lines to provide basic patient care and support. Duties such as patient monitoring and ambulation, feeding, dressing, bathing, and checking vitals are all common tasks that a nurse assistant might perform.
In fact, Certified Nurse Aides (CNAs) provide more than 90% of the hands-on care received by nursing home residents. CNAs can also work in other related settings such as hospices, home health agencies, and long-term care facilities.
While nurse aides are not technically licensed, they are certified by the state and work under the direct supervision of a licensed physician or nurse professional.
Your certification is what allows you to continue working as a nursing assistant, so it's important that you're able to defend that certification if you find yourself accused of professional wrongdoing.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Team have many years of experience navigating this process and will work to help you achieve the best possible outcome. We have helped CNAs and other professionals across the country who find themselves faced with allegations of misconduct, and we can help you too. Contact our office today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your options.
How Are CNAs Regulated in New York?
CNAs are governed by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) in partnership with the New York State Education Department (NYSED). The Department of Health oversees all licensing and regulation of certified nursing aides in New York and also maintains the online Nurse Aide Registry (NAR).
Like other licensed and certified professionals, regulation of nursing assistants includes several requirements that must be met. These requirements are set out in the National Nursing Home Reform Law as part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (commonly called OBRA,' 87) and the subsequent revision in 1989-1990.
This Act created federal mandates for the training and qualifications of nurse aides in nursing home facilities, including the requirement that all nursing assistants demonstrate the necessary knowledge and skills to properly care for residents. This is achieved by completing a state-approved nurse aide training program (NATP) and passing a competency exam. (See 42 CFR §483.150-483.160.)
States differ on the specific requirements for these programs, but in New York, individuals have two NATP options:
- Attend a stand-alone (approved) NATP (adult) that consists of at least 120 total program hours (including a minimum of 90 classroom hours and 30 hours of in-person, supervised clinical experience; or
- Attend an NATP through a four-year secondary educational institution (secondary) that consists of at least 432 total hours, including 216 of health science core, 108 hours of theory, and 108 hours of in-person, supervised clinical experience.
It should be noted that the supervised care portion of the program will evaluate patient care skills in an approved long-term care facility.
Upon successful completion of the required nurse aide training, you must pass a two-part competency exam that includes a written portion and a performance review.
The State of New York has delegated the administration of the competency exam to its third-party vendor, Prometric. Upon passing the test, Prometric will issue your CNA certificate and enter it into the State's NAR.
Part of this final approval process includes a fingerprint criminal background check and verification of good standing if you are transferring your certification from another state via reciprocity (more on that below). All certified nurse aides and facility-paid nurse aide trainees are required to submit to this background check. This verification is typically initiated by the nursing home or health care facility you work for and is handled by the Criminal History Record Check (CHRC) Legal Unit of the DOH. Both the FBI and New York's Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) are consulted as part of the process.
If a criminal history is found, it is up to the CHRC Legal Unit to make a determination about employment eligibility.
Are Other Types of Professional Licenses and Certifications at Risk?
Yes! Many CNAs continue their education by pursuing a career in nursing (i.e., Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), Registered Professional Nurses (RNs), Nurse Practitioners (NPs), and Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs)). If this is your plan, you should know that the state of New York has strict guidelines for those professions as well.
This includes all the rules and regulations set out by the Nurse Practice Act (NPA) and enforced by the Office of the Professions Division of NYSED.
In addition, the state of New York regulates a variety of other professions, including:
- Clinical lab technicians
- Mental health practitioners
- Other medical and non-medical professions
Working with the Lento Law Firm Team can help you protect your professional license and continue your chosen career path.
What Types of Issues Can Endanger a Nurse Aide Certificate?
Because CNAs work so closely with patients on a day-to-day basis, it's important to ensure all nursing aides provide a high standard of care. As a result, there are allegations and issues that can put your nurse assistant certification at risk, specifically actions of resident abuse, neglect, mistreatment, or misappropriation of resident property.
These actions can also include:
- Accusations of drug abuse
- Certain criminal convictions, including those above, as well as convictions for violent behavior, fraud, DUI, crimes against children, and exploitation of the elderly.
- Appearance on the List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE) database, maintained by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
- Inconsistencies in past employment history
- Inconsistencies or falsification of educational background
A bulleted summary of these convictions can be found in the NYDOH Nursing Home Nurse Aide Certification Handbook and Training Program Manual. You can also find a complete list in the Department of Health Regulations Title 10, NYCRR Part 402.
You should know that CNAs are required to recertify every 24 months. That means you could lose your certification down the road, even if you've successfully been certified in the past.
How Does the Disciplinary Process Work for Certified Nurse Assistants in New York?
Under New York State Public Health Law § 2803-d, anyone may make a report of suspected misconduct, and certain professions - such as employees of the facility and any medical professionals that witnessed or become aware of the action in question - are required to report the misconduct to the DOH.
The Commissioner will initiate an investigation upon receipt of the complaint, and law enforcement will be notified if it is determined that a criminal offense has been committed.
The DOH will notify you personally or via certified mail of the investigation, and if the Commissioner determines that the alleged misconduct has occurred, you will be notified again, via registered or certified mail, along with a notice of your right to a hearing.
You will have thirty (30) days from the receipt of this notice to request a hearing and ask that your determination be amended or sealed based on your evidence or specific circumstances.
If you do not request the hearing (or you're not successful in your appeal), disciplinary action will depend upon the allegations in question.
In general, if there is a conviction or "sustained findings" of resident abuse, neglect, mistreatment, or misappropriation of resident property, the findings will be entered into the NAR, and the nurse aide will no longer be eligible for employment in any capacity in a nursing facility.
Lesser infractions, such as restraining a patient without proper approval, will usually not result in a ban but will be treated as a violation of the patient's rights and can result in a written warning, a monetary fine, a probationary period, or any combination thereof.
There are instances where sustained findings of an allegation have later been removed from the registry, and the employment ban was subsequently lifted. Of course, it's better to keep your nurse aide certification from being revoked or suspended in the first place, and the Lento Law Firm Team can help you protect your career and preserve your rights.
Can I Reinstate My Nurse Aide Certification?
Nursing assistant certifications can be reinstated in certain situations.
If your certification has lapsed, for example, but you still meet all the current regulatory and employment requirements, you can apply for reinstatement by completing the application and retaking the two-part competency skills exam. You will have two years from the time you file your application for reinstatement to pass the exam.
This option only applies to nurse aides that completed an approved NATP after July 1, 1989. If your nursing assistant certification was obtained prior to that date or through reciprocity, you'll need to proceed as if you're a new CNA-applicant and go through the training process again.
In cases where a certification has been denied or revoked, you will need to file an appeal with the NYSDOH. You'll need to show why your nurse aide certification should be reinstated and how you'll ensure adherence to the high standards of care expected from CNAs in New York.
This can include providing "evidence" of your fitness or suitability to resume your duties as a nursing assistant, such as participation in additional training, new certifications, witness testimony, and graduation from a treatment program, if applicable.
And while there are often mitigating circumstances that could help your case, the process can be both lengthy and confusing, even intimidating at times. It is to your benefit to have an experienced license defense attorney by your side during the process, and our firm is ready to help you negotiate a reinstatement and reclaim your nurse aide certification.
Will A Suspension of a Nurse Aide Certificate Affect A Multistate (Compact) License?
There are a few different scenarios we should address here.
The Nurse Licensure Compact is a multistate agreement initiated by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) to allow nurses to move between member states without having to obtain new, stand-alone licenses for each state.
And although CNAs are not included in this agreement, a suspension or revocation of your New York Nurse Aide Certification could potentially affect your ability to work as a nurse in a different state, whether it participated in the compact agreement or not.
In addition, many states – New York included – use a reciprocity arrangement to allow nursing aides to use their out-of-state certification in lieu of retaking an in-state approved course. For this arrangement to work, most states will rely on the registry information of the referring state as proof of eligibility. If New York's nursing assistant registry lists you as ineligible to work as a CNA, that could affect your ability to work as an aide in other states.
And finally, it also isn't unusual for nursing students to continue working as a CNA until their nursing degree is obtained. In the event your CNA was suspended or revoked, this could affect your ability to pursue your nursing career.
How Can I Verify My CNA Certification Is in Good Standing?
The New York State Nurse Aide Registry can verify active status of a nurse aide certification and provide information regarding any criminal convictions and sustained findings of abuse.
Note that this registry covers all of New York State and will include certifications for CNAs in smaller, rural areas - such as Ithaca, Greenport, Aurora, and Lake Placid - as well as the larger, metropolitan cities such as Buffalo, Rochester, Long Island, and New York City.
The registry is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and can be accessed by anyone via a toll-free number or an online interface.
How Can I Make My Certification "Legally Defensible?"
The term "legally defensible" means that you have made a consistent and active effort to protect your certification and ensure its worth the privileges it conveys. This can be accomplished by participating in well-recognized, state-approved training programs, for example, clarifying and following directions regarding patient care, documenting patient files, and pursuing additional training and certifications when available/applicable.
Actions like this tell your employer, as well as the Commissioner and the Department of Health, that you're serious about your career as a CNA and you are an asset to the profession.
And yes, there have been instances where medical professionals were required to defend their credentials after the authenticity of a school or program came into question.
In a 2023 case, several nursing schools in Florida were charged with selling fake licenses by the Department of Justice. The nurses that had graduated from these schools were then asked to "prove" the validity of their licenses and the assertion that they were not involved in the fraud.
Having a legally defensible license wouldn't have definitively prevented this issue, but it would help you defend against it if questions about your certification are raised.
Should I Wait Until a Formal Complaint Has Been Filed Against Me?
There are times when you may feel worried or concerned about an event, but you're not sure what to do. Maybe you made a mistake at work, moving a patient in a manner that isn't according to protocol, for instance, or you forgot to document a patient's food or liquid intake.
Or perhaps it's more serious than that.
Maybe you witnessed another employee or health care provider doing something you're not sure is appropriate, or maybe you just really messed up, and you're afraid of what might happen next.
Remember that time is of the essence. The sooner you contact the Lento Law Firm Team, the sooner we can begin working on the specific circumstances of your case. If you are aware of a situation that you believe may result in a complaint against you, a quick phone call is all it takes to set up a consultation and gain some peace of mind.
Working with our law firm will allow you time to explore your options and outline a potential defense. Of course, the best outcome would be to find that no complaint was made, but it certainly doesn't hurt to be prepared if that's not the case.
Can I Be Charged If I Don't Report Misconduct?
Yes! As part of the required reporting rule laid out in Public Health Law § 2803-d (mentioned above), CNAs are required to report acts of misconduct that include resident abuse, neglect, mistreatment, or misappropriation of resident property.
If you witness such an act or become aware of the misconduct and fail to report it in a timely manner, state law requires the Commissioner to send you a letter notifying you of the infraction and your right to a hearing. (See New York State Public Health Law § 2803-d 6(b).)
Should I Sign a Stipulation or Consent Order?
Just as parties can choose to settle a case in court, you may be given the option to "stipulate" to specific charges and/or "consent" to a set punishment or fine rather than proceeding with the investigation.
In some instances, this may prove to be the best course of action, but you should be aware of all your options before signing this kind of agreement.
Stipulating or consenting is admitting to at least part of the charges against you (or a variation thereof), and it also waives your right to present any future defense against such allegations.
If the charges warrant entry into the NAR, that could affect your ability to obtain employment down the road in both New York and other states as well.
Working with an experienced attorney can help you choose the best option and defend your nurse assistant certification against disciplinary action. Our law firm team knows how to work with governmental agencies, and we can help you negotiate the best possible outcome.
How a New York Certified Nursing Aide License Defense Attorney Can Help
Don't wait to protect your certification! The clock starts ticking as soon as you receive notification of a complaint, and you have limited time to prepare a defense against potential disciplinary action. Having a New York attorney experienced in defending nurse aide certifications can help you prepare your defense and ensure you don't feel overwhelmed during the process.
How can the Lento Law Firm Team help you?
- Preparing and filing a formal response to the complaint
- Collecting evidence and contacting witnesses
- Negotiating for a dismissal of the complaint, if appropriate
- Negotiating for leniency in pending disciplinary actions
- Representing you in interactions with the Commissioner and the Department of Health
- Negotiating the best possible terms of a stipulation or consent order
- Defending you at a formal hearing, if necessary
Contact our office, and let us start working on your case today! With Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Team on your side, you'll have the resources and experience you need to provide the best defense for your certification.
What Areas of New York Does the Lento Law Firm Serve?
The Lento Law Firm Team works with certified nursing assistants across the country and can help you protect your certification, regardless of your location or employer.
This includes rehabilitation centers in Wilmington, nursing homes in Syracuse, healthcare facilities in Cooperstown, and hospice agencies in Yonkers. In fact, there are thousands of organizations that employ certified nurse aides in the state of New York, and the Lento Law Firm Team can work with them all.
Contact The Lento Law Firm to Protect Your Nursing Assistant Certification
Obtaining your nurse aide certification in New York is no easy feat, and the Lento Law Firm Team understands that.
It's important, then, that you have the resources you need to protect that certification in the event you are accused of professional misconduct or wrongdoing.
Even failing to report the actions of another professional can put your certification at risk.
Fortunately, Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Team can help!
Our law firm has the knowledge and experience you need to navigate the complexities of a formal disciplinary process. You can also count on us to work hard to get you the best possible outcome for your situation. We will always fight for your rights, but we also know how to negotiate with governmental agencies to find the most viable resolution.
When you contact our law firm, you don't have to worry about feeling overwhelmed or intimidated by the difficult process of defending your nursing assistant certification. That's because we'll be with you every step of the way.
You worked hard to achieve your CNA status; now it's time to protect it! Don't risk your career and your livelihood by waiting. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Team today at (888) 535-3686 or go online to schedule a consultation.