Pennsylvania State Agency Nursing License Defense

Agency nurses are the backbone of various hospitals and communities, and the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing holds its nurses to very high standards. If you are an agency nurse, you know that your professional license is the key to your livelihood, and you worked incredibly hard to display your devotion to healthcare while genuinely impacting many people's lives. However, all it takes is a single complaint for your entire career to be threatened, and receiving notification of a pending board investigation can put you in a stressful situation.

Questions immediately arise about the disciplinary process, the ramifications, and, most importantly, the exact rights you are entitled to. The best thing you can do for yourself and your career is to contact a Pennsylvania License Defense Team, regardless of which step in the process you find yourself. Fortunately, the experienced LLF Law Firm Pennsylvania Nursing License Defense Team can answer all these questions and has assisted many agency nurses who have similarly found their careers in a state of uncertainty. Please call us at 888-535-3686 or tell us about your case online.

Pennsylvania Disciplinary Process for Agency Nurses

Pennsylvania Nursing Law has a specific agency, the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing, that "protects the health and safety of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through the licensure/certification and regulation of the practice of professional and practical nursing." Should you find yourself dealing with a board investigation, knowing what interests the agency represents is crucial. Their Board consists of nine nurse members, six registered nurses, two licensed practical nurses, and one nurse dietician. The Commissioner of Professional and Occupational Affairs also manages the Board, whose department's mission is to "protect the health and safety of the public from fraudulent and unethical practitioners." Essentially, for your case, you must prove that having your nursing license is in no way, shape, or form a threat to public health or safety.

Pre-Accusation Stage

In some cases, you may know that a complaint is in the process of being issued or has already been sent before the nursing board even gets involved. This can be because a patient told you about their allegation against you directly or a colleague informed you of potential professional misconduct they witnessed, requiring them to report it. Nevertheless, this is a great time to sort things out by seeking legal counsel so that you can possibly convince the complainant of no wrongdoing or to make sure you preserve any mitigating evidence. The LLF Law Firm can help you take the ideal course of action that will lead you to the best possible outcome.

The Complaint Stage

The Board can collect complaints from many sources, not just colleagues or patients of the agency nurse. These sources include, but are not limited to:

  • Patient's family members
  • Employers of nurses
  • Social media
  • Press reports

Once they receive or discover any potential nursing misconduct, they may request a written response from you, along with supporting evidence. In the case that the accusations are deemed "an immediate and clear danger to public health and safety," the Board will proceed by automatically suspending your license and initiating a preliminary hearing within thirty days of issuing the suspension. If the Board determines that the complaint does not have the necessary supporting evidence, the suspension will be immediately lifted. A suspension can not be longer than 180 days, but this is still a very long time to be without the ability to practice.


Once the Pennsylvania Board of Nursing receives any complaint of misconduct, they can and will use their enforcement attorney. They can also issue subpoenas to further investigate any potential violations and collect information from witnesses by examining them under oath and obtaining testimonies.

The Board will then decide if there is enough evidence to proceed with a hearing and potential disciplinary action.

Preliminary Hearing Stage

As previously mentioned, the preliminary hearing stage is the time when the Board decides whether your case is a prima facie case or a case with enough evidence to proceed with a formal hearing. However, they may try to avoid a hearing by offering you a consent agreement. This is done by cross-examining witnesses, inspecting physical evidence, calling witnesses, offering evidence and testimony, and making a record of the proceedings. It is important to note that during this hearing, you are allowed counsel and should take full advantage of this right because if the Board finds that there is not enough evidence to proceed, your license will immediately be restored.

Consent Agreement

A consent agreement is written and provided to the nurse as a way of avoiding a formal hearing. Upon signing this agreement, you are admitting to any wrongdoing and accepting the disciplinary actions provided. This is not always the ideal route, but it can be beneficial in cases where disciplinary action is unavoidable, especially if it grants you the possibility of license reinstatement. Consent agreements are typically a long-term deal that involves specific guidelines that are to be strictly adhered to in order to ensure that your license is reinstated following the agreement's conclusion. You should not sign anything without first consulting with an attorney who is familiar with Pennsylvania nursing license defense law.

Formal Hearing

Pennsylvania Professional Nursing Law grants you the right to "a full and fair hearing before the Board." This hearing must occur before any license suspension or revocation and is part of Pennsylvania's Administrative Procedure Act. This Act also specifies several rights that you will be entitled to, including:

  • To be notified of any potential investigation, as well as what exactly you are being tried for and what evidence they have against you.
  • To testify for your own case, with the necessary witnesses or evidence in defense of your charges.
  • To be given the right to counsel, allowing the counsel to submit legal documents and orally argue on your behalf.

The last point is especially important because the Board will have an attorney collecting evidence against you, and even the most minor things you say can be used against you. Your nursing license deserves the best possible protection and the most robust legal representation.

The LLF Law Firm Nursing License Defense Team Can Help

With hospitals still reeling from COVID-19, agency nurses like you are doing the heavy lifting the country desperately needs. Working for a nursing agency comes with its uncertainties in scheduling, location, and colleagues. Fortunately, at the LLF Law Firm, we have many years of experience defending agency nurses who find themselves being investigated by the Nursing Board for potential misconduct. With us, you will have no uncertainties, and you will know exactly who is representing you during this tumultuous time. No matter what stage of the process you are in, the LLF Law Firm can and will craft the strongest possible case in your favor. Please call us at 877-962-3984 or tell us about your case online.


After hearing the defendant's case and necessary defense in its entirety, the Board will vote on a decision. In order for any disciplinary measure to occur, there must be a majority vote amongst the Board members. The disciplinary charges vary from case to case, and you will always receive the Board's final decision in writing. Adverse decisions that include strict punishment can shatter your career, leaving you picking up the pieces. If there is an entire Nursing Board with its own set of attorneys, you deserve the LLF Law Firm in your corner to help you secure the best outcome.

Disciplinary Charges Against Nurses

There are a wide range of disciplinary actions that the Board can impose on you following a hearing. Most importantly, it is crucial for you and your career to seek legal counsel early and avoid trying to resolve things yourself. Potential charges and disciplinary actions include:

  • No charges: This is the best-case scenario, where your defense proves to the Board that you have committed no wrongdoing. No action is taken against you.
  • Warning or reprimand: The Board finds you guilty of wrongdoing but imposes the least severe sanction on you. However, it will be on your record permanently and can make things increasingly difficult in the future should you find yourself being investigated by the Board again.
  • License Suspension: The Board finds you guilty of serious wrongdoing and suspends your license for a given period of time. The Nursing Board takes this action very seriously, and they will typically only consider this option if they find that you have committed a serious form of malpractice.
  • License Revocation: The Board finds you guilty of serious wrongdoing and imposes the most severe administrative punishment, effectively terminating your right to practice. There must have been a colossal breach of nursing professional conduct for a case to result in license revocation. In cases where felonies were involved, criminal convictions may follow.

Common Allegations That Can Put Your Nursing License at Risk

The Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing has a mission to prioritize the health and safety of the public, and as a result, they hold their nurses to high standards and take allegations of ethics violations, standard of care violations, and any other breaches of public trust very seriously. As previously mentioned, the Board can and will have an attorney attentively investigate with subpoenas to decide if the accusations are valid. The proceeding lists the most common reasons a license may be revoked.

Fraudulent Practices

The list of specific offenses that fall under fraud is vast. Some common offenses include:

  • Upcoding, which is when nurses submit false insurance claims to receive larger reimbursements
  • Overbilling either the insurance company or the patients
  • Receiving kickbacks for referrals
  • Charging for services not provided
  • Falsifying or modifying patient records
  • Misrepresenting credentials to an employer or patient
  • Performing services not within the scope of practice, i.e., prescribing medication when you're not a licensed physician

Gross Neglect or Abuse

Gross neglect refers to any form of neglect or mistreatment that could put a patient's safety and welfare at risk, such as:

  • Abuse of any kind, i.e., physical, emotional, or verbal
  • Violating HIPAA regulations regarding patient confidentiality
  • Performing unneeded procedures
  • Medical errors of any kind, i.e., prescribing the wrong medicine/doses or seriously misdiagnosing a patient

Improper Prescribing or Dispensing of Controlled Substances

There is strict regulation for healthcare providers who are able to prescribe controlled substances due to the high risk of complications or prescription drug abuse by the patients. Some common violations that fall under improper prescribing include:

  • Prescribing medicine when there is no valid medical reason
  • Overprescribing particularly addictive medication, such as opioids
  • Inaccurate inventory tracking of medications
  • Redirecting patient prescriptions for personal or street use
  • Dispensing controlled substances without a prescription

Sexual Misconduct and Inappropriate Relationships

Nurses are held to high ethical standards because of their tremendous impact on their patients' lives. Engaging in any romantic or sexual relations with anyone they are treating is a severe ethical violation. Other examples include unwelcome sexual advances towards patients or coworkers, sexual assault, and sexual harassment, which are all grounds for license revocation, should there be evidence to back up such a claim.

Poor record keeping

As a nurse, recordkeeping plays a pivotal role in maintaining patient safety. If you are accused of inaccurately logging patient data, falsifying data, or haphazardly storing it, your license may be at risk. The best way to prevent this is to use the most up-to-date technology to ensure smooth and secure patient confidentiality.

Failure to follow treatment recommendations

When a doctor issues an order regarding the care of their patients, it is your responsibility as a nurse to make sure to follow the order, and failure to do so can jeopardize your license. Additionally, if a patient's medical condition indicates they need specialist care and you fail to refer them, you also may be putting your license at risk.

Criminal convictions

Any criminal convictions have the potential to threaten your nursing license. It is more likely to result in a revocation of your license if the conviction involved your nursing profession or was a crime of moral violation. The judicial courts may notify the Board of any convictions, triggering an immediate temporary suspension of your nursing license. Additionally, you may be asked to answer a licensing complaint if you are currently being investigated for possible criminal charges. Initial refusal may be the best starting step but could lead to additional license sanctions. The LLF Law Firm can guide you about if, when, and how you should respond, helping you to craft the best possible defense against the Board.

Substance Abuse and Addiction Accusations

In some disciplinary cases, the Board must determine whether accusations that a nurse has an addiction-related problem and an impaired condition are valid. Pennsylvania Professional Nursing Law grants the Board the ability to impose a physical and mental evaluation of the nurse following a formal hearing. You need to know that failure to attend this evaluation is seen as a confirmation of the accusations of addiction. Fortunately, Pennsylvania Nursing Law understands that nurses can recover from confirmed cases of addiction with proper care. The Pennsylvania Professional Health Monitoring Program's Volunteer Recovery Program is implemented to give nurses an alternative to license discipline. Specifically, "The Board may defer and ultimately dismiss any of the types of corrective action set forth in this act for an impaired professional so long as the licensee is progressing satisfactorily in an approved treatment program."

Pennsylvania Alternative Treatment Option (Voluntary Recovery Program)

In order to qualify for this program, you must be willing to sign a consent agreement with the Board accepting that your license will be suspended for the duration of the recovery process. This consent agreement is not for everyone, especially considering that the minimum term for the program is three years. During this period, you may be required to attend counseling, and you will be monitored, and drug tested. Additionally, any facility or colleague who witnesses a nurse suffering from addiction and fails to report it in a timely manner may face a hearing followed by a fine of up to one thousand dollars. Do not agree to a consent agreement with unnecessary terms and conditions. Instead, have the experienced LLF Law Firm Professional License Defense Team negotiate on your behalf to get the best outcome for you and your license.


As an agency nurse in Pennsylvania, you have the right to appeal any decision the Board makes. However, there need to be special circumstances for the appeal to be considered, such as:

  • A violation of rights
  • An error of law procedure
  • A finding in the record without substantial supporting evidence

Even at this stage in the process, if you have not already done so, you may seek legal counsel to help build a strong appeal. In this tightly scheduled and tumultuous time, it can be easy to gloss over things you consider insignificant for your case. The LLF Law Firm understands where to look and what pieces of evidence could be most critical for defending your future and your livelihood.


If your license is suspended or revoked, and an appeal is not approved, the Board will not reinstate your license. You will also not be eligible to reapply for a new license for at least five years. When reapplying for a license, you must ensure you meet all license requirements. Additionally, you will be subject to an evaluation by the Board to ensure that you are fit to become a practicing nurse again.

License Application and Renewal

Having a good standing of your nursing license is essential, not only in Pennsylvania but also in other states, due to the fact that there is a national reporting system for nursing discipline. Even if you are applying for a nursing license in another state, you have to report previous licensing proceedings. This can be an issue because both employers and nursing boards check the national database when people apply for a license, license renewal, or employment. It is in your best interest to protect your license, even if you plan on practicing outside of the state, because of the long-term ramifications of receiving license discipline.

LLF Law Firm Understands the Issues of Agency Nursing

As an agency nurse, you may be constantly finding yourself in new environments, meeting many other healthcare professionals, and impacting the lives of countless patients. However, this can also come with time away from family, lack of community in hospitals, and overwork as hospitals in the United States struggle to hold solid levels of employment. You have enough responsibility as it is and should not be left to handle accusations of misconduct and potential board investigations alone. Let our team of dedicated attorneys help you so that you can continue helping others.

Why You Should Retain the LLF Law Firm as a Pennsylvania Agency Nurse

At the LLF Law Firm, we have helped countless agency nurses maintain their licenses and, more importantly, their livelihoods. In this challenging process, there are many steps where issues can be exacerbated, especially if you are unaware of all potential ramifications. Since your license is a legal document between you and the Board, any issues involving this agreement are viewed as legal issues. The Board's goal is to ensure the health and safety of the public, and as a result, there is no guaranteed presumption of innocence. The Board may also use informal conversations that you thought had no impact against you in court. Instead of going at it alone, you should retain the LLF Law Firm to ensure that you have the best possible defense in your corner and that you know exactly what evidence the Board has against you. Please call us at 888-535-3686 or tell us about your case online.


Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are committed to answering your questions about Physician License Defense, Nursing License Defense, Pharmacist License Defense, Psychologist and Psychiatrist License Defense, Dental License Defense, Chiropractic License Defense, Real Estate License Defense, Professional Counseling License Defense, and Other Professional Licenses law issues nationwide.
The Lento Law Firm will gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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