Nurses are an important part of the medical field, and their work is vital to the smooth operation of hospitals and clinics—especially in a state as heavily populated as New York. However, nurses can find themselves in a difficult situation if they are accused of wrongdoing or negligence. In this situation, it is important to have a license defense attorney who understands the disciplinary process and can help protect your rights.
If you are a licensed nurse in New York accused of wrongdoing, you are in a precarious position. The New York Office of the Professions (OP) takes allegations of misconduct very seriously, and they have broad authority to suspend or revoke licenses with a low burden of proof. A single allegation of misconduct can completely derail your career.
The good news is that you don't have to face this crisis alone. An experienced New York license defense attorney can help you navigate the disciplinary process, protect your rights, and give you the best chance of keeping your license. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped many nurses and other professionals in situations like yours. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case and your options.
What Types of Allegations Can Put a Nurse's License in Danger?
The Office of the Professions holds licensed nurses to high standards of ethical and professional excellence. Most allegations that could jeopardize your license are related to some violation of these standards or a breach of public trust. Some of the most common allegations include the following:
- Unprofessional conduct. This is a wide category that includes things like acting inappropriately on the job or having an unethical sexual/romantic relationship with a coworker, patient, or superior.
- Patient abuse or neglect. A nurse's license may be revoked if they maltreat a patient physically, verbally, or emotionally or fail to give them with timely or adequate treatment.
- Mishandling/misuse of drugs. Nurses are entrusted with administering medications to patients, which involves a high level of trust. If this trust is broken by behaviors such as falsifying medication inventories, diverting medications intended for patients for personal use, etc., it could result in loss of license.
- Fraud. Examples include billing insurance companies for services not rendered, falsifying medical records, or using a patient's personal information for identity theft.
- Criminal convictions. Being convicted of certain crimes can jeopardize your nurse's license, especially for crimes of moral turpitude.
What Is the Disciplinary Process for Nurses in New York?
Most disciplinary actions are initiated by a formal complaint. New York has standardized the process why which the public may file complaints against licensed professionals, including nurses. Anyone can file a formal complaint about a New York nurse via the New York Office of the Professions, but most complaints against nurses come from patients, coworkers, other practitioners, and sometimes insurance companies. Once the OP receives a complaint, the disciplinary process generally moves forward in the following stages.
The OP begins by investigating the claim to see if there is enough evidence to support it. The investigation usually involves interviewing the complainant and any witnesses, reviewing documents, and other fact-finding activities. The OP will dismiss the matter if the investigation does not uncover sufficient evidence to support the complaint. If, however, there is sufficient evidence, the matter will be referred to the NYS Education Department Board of Regents for further review.
In certain situations, the Board may opt to offer you a consent order in lieu of a formal hearing, particularly if the evidence against you makes disciplinary action likely. A consent order is a legally binding agreement where you acknowledge wrongdoing and accept the Board's recommendations for disciplinary actions. Although a consent order may not be the best option for everyone, it can be useful if it provides a pathway to reinstatement of your license.
If no consent agreement has been signed after the investigation is completed, the Board of Regents convenes to review the complaint and decide if disciplinary action is necessary. The Board may summon you to attend a hearing to explain why your license should not have been revoked. In such cases, you may be represented by an attorney. The Board will issue a determination on guilt or innocence and make a final determination regarding disciplinary action, including the possibility of revoking your license.
How a New York Nursing License Defense Attorney Can Help
Anytime a complaint is filed against your nurse's license, you're effectively at a disadvantage. The NYS Office of the Professions has a duty to protect the public. It has broad authority to discipline nurses over alleged violations--and a low burden of proof by which to do so. From the moment the complaint is filed, the investigation's goal is to find evidence to support the complaint—including anything you might say or do in response to the complaint. You need a New York nursing license defense attorney on your side to protect your interests and ensure that you're treated fairly throughout the process. A good attorney can help you at every stage of the disciplinary process, including:
- Filing a response to the complaint
- Gathering evidence and witnesses to support your case
- Negotiating for a dismissal of the complaint and/or leniency in disciplinary actions
- Representing you in all interactions with the OP and Board of Regents
- Negotiating the best possible terms of a consent order
- Defending you at a formal hearing, if necessary
The bottom line is that if your New York nursing license is under investigation, your career hangs in the balance. You can't rely on the OP's sense of fairness to make sure you keep your license. Having an attorney who knows the ins and outs of license investigations can greatly increase your chances of saving your license—and by extension, your nursing career.
The consequences of a license revocation can be severe. Don't try to navigate the process on your own--get the help you need to protect your livelihood. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation.