Nurses, including agency nurses, undergo specialized education and rigorous training to earn professional licenses. They play a critical role in hospitals, medical centers, and clinics across the country. Some even visit patients in their homes. As licensed nurses, they are charged with upholding professional standards and ethics. Despite the care they work tirelessly to provide for those in need, all too often, nurses become the subject of allegations of professional misconduct. Whether or not these allegations are false or overstated, the repercussions can result in sanctions that can be overly harsh and sometimes career-ending.
If you are an agency nurse facing an accusation of professional wrongdoing from someone at the agency or the facility where you work, the New Jersey Board of Nursing will be notified, and the professional license you worked so hard for will be in jeopardy. When your professional reputation and career are at stake, you need to take the matter seriously and contact the experienced and aggressive Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm. We have represented staff and agency nurses in New Jersey and across the country and helped defend their professional licenses against nursing boards. We won't stop fighting until we obtain the best possible outcome in your case.
Don't embark on this fight on your own. Contact the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm today at 888.535.3686 or through our online form. We will immediately begin working to build a strong case in your defense.
Legal Powers the Agency, Medical Center, and the New Jersey Board of Nursing Has Over You
Most people assume that the nurse treating them is an employee of the entity where they are working. While plenty of staff nurses are in these facilities, several medical facilities and clinics hire agency nurses. Agency nurses are professional, licensed nurses who staffing agencies contract out to work in hospitals, medical centers, and clinics or visit patients in their homes. Agency nurses aren't salaried or hourly employees like staff nurses. The staffing company hires them as 1099 contract employees, which means they don't usually receive benefits, such as paid time off, healthcare, or retirement benefits. They are also usually paid more than staff nurses. Agency nurses can usually pick and choose which shifts they want to work, and often, they pick up night shifts and holiday shifts, which generally pay more than daytime and non-holiday shifts.
When someone files a complaint against a New Jersey agency nurse, the hits can come from several levels — the staffing agency that hired them, the healthcare facility that the staffing agency contracts with, and the New Jersey Board of Nursing. Any one of these entities can and most likely will launch an investigation into the issue, and if they see fit, they will take action against the agency nurse. If you are an agency nurse facing allegations of misconduct from your staffing agency or the healthcare facility where you work, you could be relieved of your duties. Whether or not you are fired, you can count on word getting to the New Jersey Board of Nursing that the matter against you will be the subject of an investigation. If the board deems that sanctions are necessary, you could face losing your nursing license, which means you will be unable to practice nursing in New Jersey — and very likely in other states as well.
The New Jersey Board of Nursing is a powerful entity with the authority to make or break a nurse's career. The agency has the authority to:
- Issue and renew licenses and certifications for nurses in New Jersey
- Establish and enforce professional and practice conduct standards
- Conduct investigations into any complaints or allegations of professional wrongdoing, violations of nursing regulations, or professional incompetence against its member nurses
- Take disciplinary actions as it sees fit, such as ordering fines or issuing warnings, or ordering probation, suspension, or revocation of a nurse's professional license or certification
- Require additional education or rehabilitation for nurses who violate standards but whose actions it deems are redeemable
- Issue rules and regulations to the state's nursing practices
New Jersey Board of Nursing's sanctions against its member nurses can vary in severity. But even complaints or warnings that appear minor should be taken seriously. Any form of discipline from your professional board can become part of your professional record. This can leave a scar on your career, which can have long-standing repercussions:
- You risk losing your job with your current employer if you have any future missteps
- Your future job opportunities will be limited
- Your earning potential within the nursing field will be limited
- You will face limited prospects for advancement in your field
- You will experience increased stress
It doesn't matter who made the complaint against you or whether they wrongly accused you; you will have to defend yourself and your actions. Your license and career are at stake. This is not a battle you want to face on your own. You need an experienced team of defense attorneys to protect your rights, your license, your reputation, and your livelihood.
Do Not Expect the Truth Will Protect You from License-Related Sanctions in New Jersey
If you did nothing wrong, or the offense is minor, then you would expect to be cleared in the matter with little more than a slight warning. Don't count on it. When a complaint is made against you, you must immediately go on the defensive. There is no guarantee that the board will side with its member nurses. It will investigate any complaints it receives against a nurse, and if it deems you have committed a violation against the profession, the board will take action. Some sanctions can be career-ending. There are many reasons why the New Jersey Board of Nursing may make an unjust decision in a case of false accusation:
- They fail to carry out the necessary due diligence and, as a result, do not uncover facts, important testimony, or evidence that could influence the outcome of your case
- One or more board members may be biased toward the accuser or against you
- Board members could fail to reach a fair or accurate conclusion despite evidence that supports your case
The New Jersey Board of Nursing levies disciplinary measures against licensed nurses, whether staff or agency nurses. In some situations, someone wrongly accuses an agency nurse, and the nurse is hit with stronger penalties than they deserve. Their license and nursing career are suddenly at risk. You should never assume that just because you are innocent of the charges made against you, the board won't take action against you. You must prepare for the worst-case scenario and build a strong case in your defense. To do this, you need an experienced Professional License Defense Team from the Lento Law Firm.
What is the Nurse Licensure Compact, and Why is it Relevant to Agency Nurses Practicing in New Jersey?
New Jersey is one of several states in the country that participates in the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC). The NLC is overseen by the National Council of State Boards (NCSBN) and allows nurses who obtain their licenses in a compact state to practice in any other state that participates in the compact program without additional licensing requirements. This arrangement has its advantages, saving nurses who obtain their licenses in an NLC state who move to another from having to undergo the time and cost of credentialing to obtain employment in the same field. However, there are some disadvantages. If your license is suspended or revoked in one NLC state, you won't be able to practice in another NLC state, either. And don't think you can get a nursing job in a non-compact state, either. Your nursing record generally follows you to any other state you travel to.
Why the NCSBN's Nursys Database is Relevant to Agency Nurses in New Jersey
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing operates a national database known as the Nursys Database. State nursing boards provide data on their member nurses regarding their licensure status and any disciplinary actions against them. This helps streamline and unify the nursing industry and can be a tremendous benefit. However, it also means that anyone who works in the medical industry can access the Nursys data and find out information, such as:
- An agency nurse's current license status
- An agency nurse's professional discipline history
A nursing board can use this information to decide whether to renew an agency nurse's license. A healthcare administrator or staffing agency can use this data to decide whether to hire you for a particular job. The Nursys Database emphasizes the professional stakes you face when someone accuses you of professional wrongdoing. If you are ultimately sanctioned, you can expect additional dominoes to fall, such as:
- The sanctions the board levies against you will be added to the Nursys Database, where anyone in the medical field can access it
- When you apply to renew your license or for another job in any state in the country, regardless of whether it is an NLC stat, you will need to explain the issues that led to the board disciplining you
The NLC and the Nursys Database unite the industry across state lines, but they can also be used to ensure that a nurse sanctioned by their board does not work in the industry again. This only stresses the importance of building a strong defense, even if — and especially if — you are wrongly accused. You must be prepared for the worst case and fight hard to protect your livelihood.
Grounds for Sanctions Against Agency Nurses Practicing in New Jersey
The New Jersey Board of Nursing recognizes several actions that can result in disciplinary actions being taken against one of its member nurses, including agency nurses. Some of these actions include:
- Engaging in unprofessional or unethical conduct
- Violating patient confidentiality
- Failing to follow protocols established by the board
- Neglecting or harming patients in their care
- Being convicted of a criminal offense that involves the nurse's ability to safely practice nursing
- Abusing drugs or alcohol that impact their ability to perform their job or to safely provide patient care
- Engaging in fraudulent activities related to patient care or documentation of services rendered
- Failing to renew or maintain a valid nursing license
- Violating professional boundaries with a patient
- Engaging in unethical or unprofessional behaviors while on the job
- Having a physical or mental health issue that impairs their ability to safely practice nursing
One slight misstep involving any of the issues listed above can result in an agency nurse losing a license, seriously affecting their ability to continue working in the profession.
The Adjudication Process for Agency Nurses Issues in New Jersey
The New Jersey Board of Nursing uses a disciplinary process that is similar to those used by other professional boards when faced with a complaint against a nurse. This formal procedure is designed to resolve complaints or allegations. The steps generally follow this process:
Complaint or Allegation
The adjudication process typically begins when a complaint or allegation is filed against a nurse. Complaints can be made by patients, colleagues, employers, or other individuals who believe that a nurse has violated the Nursing Practice Act or committed professional misconduct.
Review and Investigation
Upon receiving a complaint, the New Jersey Board of Nursing will initiate an investigation. This may involve gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and reviewing medical records, if necessary. The board may work with investigators, attorneys, and other professionals during this phase.
If the board determines that there is sufficient evidence to proceed, formal charges may be filed against the nurse. These charges outline the specific allegations and violations of the Nursing Practice Act.
The nurse who is facing charges is entitled to a formal administrative hearing. During this hearing, both the nurse and the board present their cases, evidence, and witnesses. The hearing is conducted by an administrative law judge (ALJ), who will make a recommended decision to the board based on the evidence presented.
After reviewing the ALJ's recommended decision, the New Jersey Board of Nursing will make a final decision. This decision may involve disciplinary actions such as suspension, revocation of the nursing license, probation, fines, or other sanctions. The board's decision is based on whether the nurse's actions were in violation of the Nursing Practice Act and the severity of the violation.
If the nurse disagrees with the board's decision, they have the right to appeal the decision through the New Jersey court system. The appeals process can be complex and may involve legal representation.
Compliance and Monitoring
If the nurse's license is not revoked, the board may require the nurse to comply with certain conditions, such as additional training, supervision, or regular reporting. The nurse may also be subject to monitoring by the board to ensure compliance with these conditions.
Reasons to Hire an Attorney from the Lento Law Firm Team When Facing Agency Nurse License Sanctions in New Jersey
When facing a board probe due to a complaint against you, you may wonder if your case warrants hiring a lawyer or if retaining one may give others the appearance that you are guilty. That is absolutely not the case. Anytime an accusation is made against your professional license, you must take the matter seriously and act quickly. Hiring a lawyer won't make you appear guilty. It will show the Board and others that you are serious about clearing your name and protecting your reputation as a good nurse. When it comes to losing the nursing license and credentials you worked so hard for and being blackballed from working in the industry again, you need the experienced Professional License Defense Team from the Lento Law Firm fighting to protect your future. Here are some important reasons why we feel so passionately about protecting your good name:
- The threshold is low when it comes to the New Jersey Board of Nursing sanctioning one of its member nurses. The board may consider you guilty until proven innocent, and you must face the heavy burden of disproving the claims against you. This is not the time to sit back and assume the board's actions will fall in your favor. This is when you need to turn the matter over to your defense attorneys, who will build a strong defense in your case.
- The New Jersey Board of Nursing has extensive resources, which they will use when investigating a complaint of wrongdoing against one of its member nurses. So, when you face allegations, you go head-to-head with the board's legal team. You must level the playing field by building your own team with lawyers who have extensive experience facing off against boards to protect their clients' professional licenses. The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm will never stop fighting until we get the best possible outcome in your case.
- The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team has years of experience and a strong track record of success defending agency nurses like you against board accusations. We ensure that your license and your career are protected. We will fight until we get the best resolution for you.
We Serve Agency Nurses Employed Throughout New Jersey
The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm proudly represents agency nurses throughout New Jersey. We are especially active in representing agency nurses in cities, including:
Newark is the largest city in New Jersey. It's home to roughly 307,000 people. Just a few miles west of New York City, Newark offers a diverse cultural experience. It's home to major medical centers, including Beth Israel, Saint Michael's, and Columbus Hospital.
The state's second-largest city, Jersey City, is located in the northeastern portion of the state, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan. It's a bustling city with about 250,000 residents. With beautiful views of the New York City skyline, Jersey City is home to several hospitals, including Jersey City Medical Center, Christ Hospital, and Magnet Hospital.
Located in northeastern New Jersey, Paterson is about 20 miles northwest of New York City. Its 160,000 residents offer a diverse mix of cultures and communities. Paterson's major medical centers include St. Joseph's University Medical Center and Main Hospital, and Barnet Hospital.
Contact the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team Today
If you are an agency nurse in New Jersey facing a complaint or accusation of professional wrongdoing filed with the New Jersey Board of Nursing, it is essential to hire a Professional License Defense Lawyer from the Lento Law Firm. Our lawyers have extensive experience in healthcare and nursing law and a deep understanding of the regulations, laws, and standards that govern nursing practice in New Jersey. We can provide guidance on how to navigate the specific legal complexities related to your profession.
We will ensure that your rights are protected throughout the entire process. We can advise you on what to say or not say during interviews or investigations to avoid self-incrimination. We can also help you understand your legal obligations and options.
Our experienced Professional License Defense Lawyers can help you build a strong defense strategy. We will review the evidence, interview witnesses, and gather information to challenge the accusations against you. We can also help identify any weaknesses in the complainant's case. In some cases, it may be possible to negotiate a settlement or plea agreement with the board to avoid more severe disciplinary actions. We can help you assess whether this is a viable option and negotiate on your behalf for the best possible outcome.
If your case goes to an administrative hearing, having an attorney by your side is invaluable. We can represent you effectively before the administrative law judge, present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and make legal arguments on your behalf. If the board issues an adverse decision, we can help you with the appeals process. We can file the necessary legal documents, make arguments in court, and work to overturn or modify the board's decision.
Dealing with a complaint or investigation can be stressful. Having an experienced attorney from the Lento Law Firm guide you through the process can provide peace of mind and help you focus on your defense while they handle the legal aspects.
Remember that accusations of professional wrongdoing can have serious implications for your nursing career and reputation. Contact the Professional License Defense Lawyer from the Lento Law Firm today at 888.535.3686 or through our online form to protect your interests and achieve the best possible outcome in your case.