Nurses play a pivotal role in healthcare in North Carolina, as they do across the country. The schedules can be grueling, and the work, physically and emotionally, is tolling for staff nurses. Many are turning to agencies for more flexibility and variety in the care they provide. But like staff nurses, agency nurses who are accused of professional wrongdoing are at risk of losing their professional license, which can jeopardize the career they worked so hard for. Even if the allegations made against them are false or overstated, the sanctions that the board hands down can be overly harsh and career-sabotaging.
If you are an agency nurse facing allegations of professional misconduct, the career you spent years and money building is at risk. You must take these charges seriously and fight for your future. The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm understands the uphill battle you face, even if the accusations are false or overstated. We have represented countless nurses like you across the country against their professional boards and their employers. We fight tirelessly to get the best possible outcome for our clients.
Legal Powers the Agency, Medical Center, and the North Carolina Board of Nursing Has Over You
Most people assume that the nurse treating them or their loved one is employed by the medical facility where they are working. That's not always the case. With nursing shortages across the country, and more nursing professionals demanding more flexibility, agency nursing is becoming a more attractive option for both healthcare facilities and nurses. Agency nurses are employed by staffing agencies that contract nurses out to medical facilities. They are 1099 contract employees, which means they don't usually receive paid time off (PTO) or retirement or healthcare benefits. In return, they are usually paid more and can pick and choose where and what shifts they work. They often pick up night shifts or holidays, which tend to pay a premium over regular nonholiday daytime shifts.
If you are an agency nurse and someone files a complaint against you, you could face repercussions from any number of entities, from the staffing agency that you work for to the medical facility where you work to the North Carolina Board of Nursing (NCBON) which issues licenses to professional nurses like you. Any one of these entities that receive a complaint can, and most likely will, investigate. Each has the legal authority to issue sanctions against you within their scope and jurisdiction, whether it is firing you or setting into motion the suspension or revocation of your nursing license. If one entity receives a complaint, you can almost guarantee that they will share this information with the other entities.
When the NCBON is informed, its actions may be the strictest, as it has the authority to take steps, such as:
- Issue and renew nursing licenses and certifications
- Establish and enforce professional conduct standards of practice
- Launch investigations into complaints, violations of regulations, or professional incompetence made against member nurses
- Take disciplinary actions against a member nurse, including fines or warnings, or order the probation, suspension, or revocation of a nurse's license or certification
- Require further education or rehabilitation for those who have violated standards but whose actions are deemed redeemable
- Issue regulations related to North Carolina's nursing practices
Sanctions issued by NCBON can vary in severity. But even allegations that seem minor should be taken with the highest seriousness. Any form of discipline can and likely will become a part of your professional record. This can leave a scar that can tarnish your reputation, career, and livelihood. Potential issues may include:
- A risk of termination from your current employer for any future missteps
- Limited job opportunities in your future
- Limited earning potential in the nursing field
- Limited prospects for advancement in nursing
- Increased stress due to the added pressure of a complaint and the threat sanctions hold
Do Not Expect the Truth Will Protect You from License-Related Sanctions in North Carolina
Even if the accusation against you is false or appears to be of minor consequence, you shouldn't sit back and trust that the truth will set you free. The Board will likely investigate any complaint it receives, and you have little control of the outcome. If you decide to defend your license on your own, you may be unaware of the processes the Board takes, the assumptions board members may make, and all the ways you may need to defend yourself. Sometimes, Board members make mistakes in their investigation or the processes it takes in a case. They may not do their due diligence and make unfair or inaccurate decisions in a case of false accusation. Here are some ways board members may be swayed into making too harsh of a decision against you:
- Failing to carry out the necessary due diligence and, as such, not uncovering facts, gathering important witness testimony, or collecting evidence that could have a positive influence on the outcome of your case
- Harboring bias in favor of a claimant or against you personally
- Failing to reach a fair or accurate conclusion in your case despite the evidence available in your support
The North Carolina Board of Nursing levies sanctions against licensed nurses, including agency nurses. In some circumstances, an agency nurse may have been wrongly accused. As a result, they may face stronger penalties than they deserve. This immediately puts their license and career aspirations at risk. Don't assume that just because you are not guilty of the accusations of professional wrongdoing, you will escape board sanctions. You must be prepared for the worst-case scenario and fight with all the resources available to you to protect your good name, your professional license, and your career. You need the power of the experienced professional license defense attorneys from the Lento Law Firm.
What is the Nurse Licensure Compact, and Why is it Relevant to Agency Nurses Practicing in North Carolina?
North Carolina is one of several states that participate in the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC). The NLC, which is overseen by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), is an arrangement among participating states that allows nurses to practice in other compact states without having to obtain additional licensing requirements. This is one small way the nursing industry in these states has taken to quell the nursing shortage that's been felt for years, sometimes in critical areas.
Being a licensed agency nurse in an NLC state has plenty of advantages. For one, you can easily transfer from one NLC state to another and work as a nurse without having to undergo any additional licensing requirements. This can save you money and time. However, there are some downsides. For instance, if your nursing license is suspended or revoked in one compact state, you won't be able to work in any other compact state. But that doesn't mean you'll have an easier time getting a nursing job in one of the few non-compact states. Your nursing record will likely follow you across state lines into any other state you travel to, regardless of whether the state is part of the compact or not. And your ability to get a job as an agency nurse or any other type of job in the nursing industry will be next to impossible.
Why the NCSBN's Nursys Database is Relevant to Agency Nurses in North Carolina
NCSBN operates a huge Nursys Database, a national database comprising information from state nursing boards regarding nurse licensure and disciplinary actions. While this process helps unify nursing across states, it also means that anyone within the medical industry can access the information in the Nursys Database and find out information, such as:
- The status of your current license
- Your professional disciplinary history
They can also make decisions about your licensure or hiring based on the information they find out about you in the database. The Nursys Database also amplifies the issues you face when someone accuses you of professional wrongdoing. If you are sanctioned, you can expect the following actions:
- All sanctions or disciplinary measures the board takes against you will be added to the Nursys Database
- When you apply to renew your license or to another nursing job anywhere in the United States, regardless of whether or not it is a compact state, you will need to explain the reason you were sanctioned by the board
The National Licensure Compact and the Nursys Database are tools that ensure that any sanctions NCBON hands down against you follow you across state lines to any other state in which you wish to work. These repercussions only magnify the importance of retaining a powerful Professional License Defense Team to protect your license and your future opportunities in the nursing industry.
Grounds for Sanctions Against Agency Nurses Practicing in North Carolina
The North Carolina Board of Nursing recognizes several actions that can result in disciplinary action against licensed nurses in North Carolina, whether they are agency nurses or staff nurses. These actions include:
- Engaging in unethical or unprofessional conduct
- Violating patient confidentiality
- Failing to follow protocols established by the board
- Providing poor or substandard care
- Neglecting patients or causing them harm in any way
- Being convicted of a crime that affects your ability to safely practice nursing
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
- Engaging in fraudulent activities in regard to patient care or documentation
- Failing to renew or maintain a valid nursing license
- Violating your professional boundaries with patients
- Engaging in inappropriate relationships with your patients
- Failing to fulfill your required continuing education hours
- Having a physical or mental health issue that impairs your ability to safely practice nursing
The slightest misstep related to any of these matters can put the nursing license and credentials you worked so hard for in jeopardy.
The Adjudication Process for Issues Involving Agency Nurses in North Carolina
Once someone makes a complaint against an agency nurse, the complaint process in North Carolina follows a formal procedure that is designed to review and resolve the complaint or allegation of misconduct. The general steps are as follows:
The process typically begins when a complaint is filed against an agency nurse. Complaints can be filed by patients, their families, employers, colleagues, or anyone who believes that the nurse's actions or behavior warrant investigation.
The North Carolina Board of Nursing will conduct an initial review of the complaint. During this stage, they will determine if the complaint falls within their jurisdiction and if there is enough evidence to proceed.
If the complaint is deemed valid and within the jurisdiction of the NCBON, an investigation will be initiated. This may involve gathering evidence, interviewing relevant parties, and reviewing medical records or documentation.
Agency Nurse's Response
The agency nurse under investigation will have the opportunity to respond to the allegations and provide their side of the story. They may also be asked to provide documentation or other evidence in their defense.
After the investigation is complete, a panel or committee within the NCBON will review the evidence, testimony, and any other relevant information. They will determine whether the agency nurse's actions or behavior violated nursing regulations or standards of practice.
If the agency nurse is found to have violated nursing regulations, the NCBON will impose disciplinary actions, which can vary depending on the severity of the violation. Possible actions may include reprimand, probation, suspension, or revocation of the nurse's license. The specific action taken will depend on the circumstances of the case.
The agency nurse has the right to appeal the decision if they believe it is unjust or incorrect. The appeals process typically involves further reviews and hearings.
Once the adjudication process is complete and any appeals are resolved, the case will be considered closed. The agency nurse may be required to fulfill certain conditions or demonstrate their fitness to practice before their license is fully reinstated.
Reasons to Hire an Attorney from the Lento Law Firm Team When Facing Agency Nurse License Sanctions in North Carolina
If you are an agency nurse in North Carolina facing disciplinary sanctions by the North Carolina Board of Nursing, you may be hesitant to hire an attorney. Lawyers cost money, and you may worry that hiring a lawyer may make you look guilty. However, hiring a lawyer is not only an investment in your future; it also shows to the Board and others that you are taking the allegations made against you seriously and that you are willing to use any resources available to prove your case. Even if the allegations seem minor, you cannot afford for the Board to suffer a lapse of judgment and hand down a discipline that is too harsh or inappropriate, which can damage your career, your reputation, and your livelihood. You need a strong team of defense attorneys ready to fight for the best possible outcome in your case. You need the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm. Here are some important reasons why we stress the importance of protecting your future by retaining legal services when your professional license is at stake:
- When it comes to sanctioning nurses in North Carolina, the Board's threshold is low. You are stuck with the burden of disproving the claims someone made against you. The North Carolina Board of Nursing may already consider you guilty until you prove yourself innocent. This is not the time to take your chances, and I hope that the Board will make a decision in your favor. You must act now to build a strong defense.
- The North Carolina Board of Nursing has extensive resources, and it will stop at nothing to use these resources when investigating allegations of wrongdoing against one of its nurses. This means that when you fight accusations, you are also fighting their lawyers. You need to level the playing field if you want a fair match. The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team stands up against Board attorneys to fight for the best outcome for our clients.
- The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team has a strong track record of success. We have defended nurses across the country against their boards. We will fight for you until your case is resolved to the best possible conclusion.
We Serve Agency Nurses Employed Throughout North Carolina
The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team represents agency nurses throughout North Carolina. We are especially active in the state's major cities, such as:
With a population of about 875,000, Charlotte is the state's largest city. Known for its banking, finance, technology, and research industries, the city is also home to several hospitals and medical centers, including Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center, Atrium Health Mercy, and Novant Health Presbyterian Center.
Raleigh is home to just under a half-million people. Health care is among its major industries, along with life sciences, advanced manufacturing, and technology. An anchor of the Research Triangle, Raleigh has several healthcare companies as major employers, including Duke Health Systems, WakeMed Health and Hospitals, and UNC Rex Healthcare System.
At 300,000 residents strong, Greensboro is another healthcare powerhouse in the state, with Moses H. Cone Health System & Affiliates as one of its major employers. Other industries that strengthen Greensboro's economy include manufacturing, distribution, and banking.
At just over a quarter-million in population, Durham is a powerhouse, with medical, health care, research, and technology as its leading industries. Its major employers include Durham VA Health Care System, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC, and the Big Pharma company GlaxoSmithKline.
With a population of 250,000, Winston-Salem's biggest industries are health care and biomedical science, followed by digital medical and information technology. Its major employers include Novant Healthcare, Wake Forest University, and Baptist Medical Center Hospital.
Contact the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team Today
As an agency nurse, you worked hard to earn your license and credentials to practice in the State of North Carolina. But one small complaint against you can send your career and your good name tumbling down. You should never take a complaint lying down. You must fight to protect your future and everything you worked so hard for. Don't expect the board to protect you against allegations, and don't expect them to reach the right decision. One oversight on their part can result in the board handing down sanctions that may include you being placed on probation or your license being suspended or revoked. These actions can have long-lasting repercussions that can result in you losing your job and difficulty securing future employment in the nursing industry.
Don't let an accusation of wrongdoing hurt your career. Contact the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm, and let us begin right away building a strong case in your defense. Our experienced defense attorneys have helped nurses across the country, like you, defend themselves against board accusations and obtain the best possible outcome in their case. We can help you, too. You worked too hard to obtain your education and secure a professional nursing license. Don't let one allegation of professional misconduct sideline your future career goals. Stand up and fight today the best way you can, by retaining a strong, experienced, and aggressive team of defense attorneys committed to getting the best resolution possible in your case.
Contact the experienced Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm today at 888.535.3686 or through our online form to begin the fight of your professional life. You deserve to protect your job, your career, and your opportunities for future advancement.