Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Can Help When Your North Dakota Nursing License is at Risk
All professional licenses in North Dakota are subject to ethical and professional standards, and nurses are no exception. As such, the North Dakota Board of Nursing manages the licensing requirements, as well as the disciplinary charges, when any of those professional standards are violated. If the Board sees that a nurse is responsible for the accused misconduct, they will either suspend or revoke the nurse's license or place some sort of condition or restriction on it and their nursing practice.
Any kind of disciplinary action against your nursing license in North Dakota can be detrimental to your career and future prospects. Working with an experienced professional license defense attorney-advisor is the best way to ensure you fully understand the complaint being raised against you. It is also the only way to make sure you are protected against any unnecessary punishments. Call Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team today for help.
North Dakota Board of Nursing License Proceedings
As explained above, the North Dakota Board of Nursing oversees licensing applications, renewals, and disciplinary actions for each nurse in the state - whether or not you have a multistate license. Once a nurse is accused of violating one of the Board's rules, or state law, the Board will review the complaint and decide if the nurse is responsible and what sanction to impose. For instance, if a nurse is accused of endangering a patient by practicing in a way that is outside the scope of the standards of the nursing practice, they could either receive a reprimand or have their license revoked. The punishment usually matches the severity of the misconduct.
North Dakota's Nursing Practices Act governs how the Board can oversee nursing professionals but also outlines the specific rules nursing professionals are supposed to follow. Most laws and regulations are not easily accessible, nor are they easy to read. This is especially true with the Nursing Practices Act, which lists all the laws, even the ones that have been repealed or rewritten in the same document as the current, valid laws. But when nurses are unaware of the conduct they must uphold and the conduct they are barred from enacting, how can they possibly know their actions are unacceptable?
Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team will review the Act and determine, based on the alleged facts, what rule your conduct violation fell under. Then they will argue against the complainant's conclusion of this fact. Often, nursing boards do not fully investigate complaints prior to notifying the nurse in question and end up dropping the ball for the nurse by instituting unfair punishments. You have due process rights. Attorney-advisor Lento can help.
Types of Nursing Licenses in North Dakota
Like other states, North Dakota offers three main nursing licenses: a licensed practical nurse (LPN), a registered nurse (RN) license, and an advanced practical registered nurse (APRN) license. All of which have different requirements which need to be met and fees paid. If you forget to renew your license on time or are unable to renew it because you did not take the required continuing education courses for renewal, your license will lapse, and you cannot practice nursing in the state. If you are caught nursing with an invalid license, the North Dakota Board of Nursing will likely pursue disciplinary action against you.
It is important to realize that losing your North Dakota license, whether because of disciplinary action or because of your own forgetfulness, can affect every area of your life. Not only will you be prevented from practicing nursing, you could lose your job, be prevented from nursing in another state, and be subject to high fines and other repercussions - like where and when you can practice nursing, random drug testing, and participating in counseling.
To protect your future, retain the unmatched experience of Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team.
Nursing License Compact in North Dakota
North Dakota joined the original Nursing License Compact in 2004 and subsequently the Enhanced Nursing License Compact (eNLC) in 2018. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) reviewed every state's conduct, educational requirements, and licensing costs to create the eNLC. The eNLC is a cohesive standard that is meant to combat confusion surrounding regulations and conduct rules and allow nurses to hold more than one state license at a time.
This is especially helpful for travel nurses who reside in a state for a short period of time while they complete a temporary nursing contract. With the eNLC they are able to cross state lines and not have to waste time applying for a new license. The eNLC also helps patients gain greater access to better healthcare and lowers the costs to hospitals, insurance companies, and patients.
Like any policy, though, there are critics of the eNLC. These critics believe that the eNLC will prevent the state from collecting the same amount of revenue that single-state licenses would offer them and that the compact itself will affect the growth of telemedicine and telenursing practices, as well as influence patient confidentiality, and impede their ability to manage disciplinary actions.
To counter these naysayers, the NCSBN created Nursys, an online database and notification system that reaches out to nurses when their licenses need to be renewed or if there are disciplinary complaints made against them. It also helps states validate a nurse's license, investigate complaints, and initiate the disciplinary process if necessary. For instance, if a North Dakota nurse is accused of being under the influence of alcohol while administering patient care, the North Dakota Board of Nursing can look up their license in Nursys and use that information to begin investigating the complaint.
Over 40 states and territories have joined the eNLC since its induction. In fact, the only states that are not part of it are Connecticut, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, the Mariana Islands, and California. Having a multistate license can be incredibly beneficial for your career, but if you are accused of violating one of North Dakota's professional rules for practicing nursing, it could affect more than just your work in North Dakota. Working with a skilled professional license defense attorney-advisor will prevent your multistate license from being put in jeopardy because of accusations that arose out of North Dakota.
What Types of Allegations Can Put a Nurse's License at Risk?
North Dakota's Nurse Practices Act outlines the specific rules that nurses practicing in the state must abide by to stay in good standing. If a nurse is accused of violating one of these rules, the Board has every right, under the Act, to punish the nurse. Punishments can range fromwritten reprimands and probation to suspension and license revocation.This is why reaching out to Attorney-advisor Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team the moment you learn of any accusations against you is so important. They will be able to review the Act and determine if the complaint against you has any standing. If it does not, or if the Board does not have jurisdiction over it, they will contact the Board to have it dropped or dismissed.
According to the Act, nurses are prevented from exhibiting the following conduct:
- Being arrested, charged, or convicted, or having a nolo contendere plea for a crime that relates to the practice of nursing and the nurse has yet to show they have been rehabilitated from the conduct.
- Being disciplined by a board of nursing in another jurisdiction.
- Having a license to nurse or assist in the practice of nursing, or to practice in any other health care occupation or profession, be denied, revoked, suspended, or sanctioned in some other way.
- Engaging in conduct that is inconsistent with the standards of nursing practices.
- Fraudulently or deceitfully getting, or attempting to get, a license or registration to practice nursing.
- Submitting information to the Board that is fraudulent, deceitful, or false.
- Practicing nursing or other behavior that shows professional misconduct, such as abandoning or neglecting a patient who requires immediate care, failing to maintain patient confidentiality, or physically, sexually, or emotionally abusing patients, their families, the hospital, or other staff members.
- Diverting or attempting to divert supplies, drugs, equipment, or controlled substances for unauthorized or personal use.
- Practicing nursing or nursing assistance without having a current license or registration.
- Failing to report any violation of the Act.
- Failing to observe and follow any of the Act's rules, policies, and Board orders.
If a nurse is accused of one of the actions above, it could result in a hefty punishment from the Board. But that may not be the end of it as the Board may decide to refer the matter to local law enforcement, who will determine if it should be criminally investigated. For example, if a nurse is found responsible for willfully committing any of the following conduct, it is considered a class B misdemeanor in North Dakota and may require the Board to refer it to law enforcement:
- Buying, selling, or fraudulently getting or giving questions and answers to others from the nursing licensing exam.
- Buying, selling, or fraudulently getting or giving any records that might help someone else get a license in North Dakota.
- Practicing as an APRN, LPN, RN, or unlicensed assistive person by using a fake nursing school transcript, diploma, certificate of registration, license, or record.
- Practicing as an APRN, LPN, RN, or unlicensed assistive person without a license to do so.
- Teaching nursing programs to prepare someone for the nursing license or exam, or registration process without Board approval.
- Hiring a person to practice nursing without a North Dakota license or registration.
Alternatively, the patient or their family may wish to use the complaint to pursue civil litigation. No matter what happens after the initial complaint,
the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team can help. Not only will they be by your side during the Board's disciplinary proceedings, but they will be able to use that information to leverage a solid criminal - and civil - defense, guaranteeing you the best possible outcome.
Exemptions to Nursing Statutes in North Dakota
In North Dakota, there are certain people and conduct that falls outside of the disciplinary process, including:
- Performing nursing interventions during an emergency or disaster.
- Practicing nursing in the state with a license in good standing from another state when employed by the US government.
- Practicing nursing with a Canadian license or a license in another state whose job requires them to accompany and care for a patient in transit.
- Practicing nursing with a valid license in another state for an individual who is traveling to North Dakota and needs to be cared for while there.
- Performing nursing tasks for a family member.
- Practicing nursing as a student of an out-of-state board-recognized nursing education program.
- Performing non-hands-on tasks while employed in a Medicare-funded organization.
Additionally, North Dakota also has a Good Samaritan law that provides protection from criminal prosecution for nurses who provide aid or assistance to people injured as the result of an accident or sudden illness, as long as they were not at work at the time and gave over care to another professional once help arrived. For instance, if a nurse in North Dakota witnessed a three-car pileup on the highway and pulled over to help. They would not be held liable if, while pulling the victim out of a wrecked car, the victim dislocated their shoulder and required further treatment at the hospital.
What is the Disciplinary Process for North Dakota Nurses?
Anyone can file a complaint against a nurse in North Dakota, including the Board, if they believe a licensed nurse has violated some aspect of the Act. Once a Potential Violation Report (PVR) is submitted to the Board, they will review the information and decide if they have jurisdiction to adjudicate the issue. If they do, they will initiate an investigation into it and notify the accused nurse. When a nurse is initially accused, they have the right to submit a written response. Having an attorney-advisor help you write the response is invaluable. Attorney-advisor Lento will review the Act and the complaint and determine the best way to proceed with your initial response, which can set the tone for the rest of the disciplinary process.
If the evidence obtained during the investigation does not support the complaint alleged, the complaint will be dismissed. However, if there is enough evidence to substantiate the accusation, and the accused nurse does not dispute the facts alleged, the Board will attempt to sanction them outside of a hearing. You have every right to contest the charges, though, and ask for a formal administrative hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ).
During the administrative hearing, you and the state will both have the chance to present evidence and witness testimony to support your arguments. At the end of the hearing, the ALJ will review all of the evidence and decide whether you are responsible for the alleged misconduct. They will also determine what sanctions to impose if you are found responsible. The ALJ will give the Board its recommendation at the next Board meeting; the Board will decide whether to follow it or not. Appeals of the Board's decision are allowed, though they must be made to the district court of Burleigh County.
Many nurses try to defend themselves during these proceedings and end up confused and unsuccessful. Attorney-advisor Lento and his team have years of experience helping nurses navigate disciplinary proceedings. They will be able to leverage this nationwide experience to help you avoid being punished without cause or without being able to tell your side of the story. If you are found responsible, you will be prevented from continuing to practice nursing, both in North Dakota and potentially anywhere else you relocate to. You have worked so hard to pursue this career, and you shouldn't be subjected to unjust repercussions without putting up a fight.
Why You Need a Nursing License Defense Attorney in North Dakota
There are instances where nurses are made to suffer punishments that affect their future because of a lack of state funding. Instead of conducting a full-blown investigation of the complaint prior to punishing the nurse, the state board is only able to perform a small portion of the investigation and creates nonsensical conclusions that inform the rest of the disciplinary process. For instance, if the Board was unable to pursue a complete investigation and instead only spoke to the complainant and not the nurse in question, they may never learn of the conditions the nurse was under when trying to provide care to the complainant's ailing parent. Without the extra information, they would be left with just the complainant's explanation of the events and revoked the nurse's license for no reason.
All nurses have due process rights, including facing their accuser, having an attorney on their side, and defending themselves against any accusations or complaints that arise. As these are due process rights, if the Board fails to provide them to you while adjudicating the matter, they could invalidate their decisions. That means if they find you responsible for alleged conduct but refused to let you have counsel present during the hearing, their decision will be invalidated by the appeals judge.
Contacting an attorney-advisor will ensure you are aware of your rights and that the Board is not able to violate them during the hearing process.
The Nature of North Dakota Board of Nursing Charges
As we explained above, North Dakota Board of Nursing decisions are not the same as criminal convictions or civil penalties. When you are accused of violating one of the rules in the Nursing Practices Act, your punishment will usually include a suspension or revocation. But, if you are accused of a criminal offense or sued for damages because of your supposed behavior while nursing, your potential punishment will be imposed by the court.
In cases where the Board believes your conduct has violated state or federal law, they will refer the matter to law enforcement. Law enforcement will review the complaint and determine if it falls within their jurisdiction, and if it does, they will begin investigating it. It is important to realize that criminal and civil charges will affect your nursing license and the rest of your life. Not only could you be required to pay hefty fines or damages, but you might also be required to serve a prison sentence. Attorney-advisor Lento and Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team will reach out to law enforcement, review the accusations, and begin negotiating on your behalf.
How Lento Law Firm Professional Licensing Defense Team Can Help
Getting your nursing license in North Dakota is a lengthy process that requires years of education, continuing education courses, difficult exams, and monetary investments. This is why when you are accused of violating the North Dakota Board of Nursing's standards, you need to mount a strategic defense. Telling your side of the story is the best way to prevent unnecessarily harsh sanctions from interrupting the entirety of your life.
Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team know how important your career is to you and will determine the best way to prevent you from losing it. Just because you have been accused of violating the Board's standards doesn't mean you have to suffer through their punishments. Attorney-advisor Lento can help. Call 888-535-3686 today or schedule a consultation online.