Is Your Nursing License Under Threat?
For many, nursing is not a job: it is a calling. The men and women who take on this role seek meaningful work, job stability, schedule flexibility, and the privilege of helping people. They work closely with physicians and other clinical staff to care for patients with problems ranging from broken bones to terminal diseases. It is a career that not only has high earning potential but brings the people who choose it a high level of personal fulfillment.
Today, however, many nurses are facing unprecedented challenges around the state of Nevada. Hospitals around the state are struggling with severe staffing shortages. In addition, in many healthcare systems, budgets have been tightened. Nurses are being asked to do more with less – as well as deal with the emotional fall-out of a major public health event. And nurses must still contend with pathogen exposure, long working hours, lack of support, and even, in extreme cases, physical and psychological violence.
Because of all of these factors and more, more and more nurses are facing threats to their professional licenses – the key to their livelihood. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team help nurses who are facing allegations of misconduct or other professional license-threatening issues. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 or use our online form today for your consultation.
The Right Representation, Right Now
Becoming a licensed nurse in Nevada was not easy. You've worked hard to get where you are. You spent years achieving your degree, put in countless clinical training hours, and passed the challenging National Council for Licensure Exam-RN (NCLEX). You also met all the other requirements put forth by the Nevada State Board of Nursing and the Nevada Nurse Practice Act to achieve a professional license to work as a nurse in the state. And you've given your all to the countless patients who have been under your care. Your license is your livelihood. It's the key to your entire career.
Unfortunately, the number of complaints against nurses is on the rise. It is remarkably easy to file a complaint. Anyone can simply go to the Nevada State Board of Nursing website to do so. And the Nevada State Board of Nursing takes all allegations of misconduct very seriously.
If you are facing an allegation of professional or personal misconduct that may put your nursing license in jeopardy, we are here to help. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team have helped nurses and other medical professionals around the country who are facing disciplinary action by their state licensing boards. The Professional License Defense Team is well-versed in common nursing complaints, the ins and outs of the investigation process, and negotiations with the Nevada State Board of Nursing to help you retain your career. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 to see how the Professional License Defense Team can help you.
Understanding the Nevada Nurse Practice Act
Like most other states, Nevada has signed its own version of the Nurse Practice Act into law. There are no federal nursing laws in the country – each state must determine what is required to regulate the nursing profession and ensure that each nurse is working at the highest level of their licensure. In Nevada, this legislation defines the scope of practice for registered nurses (RNs), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). They define specific rules for each, setting specific legal parameters regarding what nurses can and cannot to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the patients they care for.
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) mandates that each state's Nurse Practice Act must:
- Define the role of and rules for nurses
- Establish a state board to govern nursing
- Create educational standards for nursing
- Define the standard and scope of nursing practice
- Develop requirements for licensure
- Define the grounds for disciplinary action if violations do occur, as well as potential remedies for disciplinary issues.
Each state is responsible for crafting its own professional standards of conduct for nurses. That's why it is imperative that nurses in Nevada understand the provisions of the Nevada Nurse Practice Act, especially if they are new to the state or have more experience working in other parts of the country. Nurses who violate this law may face fines or other civil penalties, up to and including a suspension or revocation of a professional license. There may be nuanced variations from state to state. And those little differences from state to state can greatly impact how any disciplinary issue is handled.
Nurse Licensure Compact
The Nurse Licensure Compact is an agreement developed by the NCSBN to facilitate the ability for nurses to work outside of their home state without having to attain additional licenses. Many state licensing boards have been pushing for state legislatures to adopt this compact in order to combat the current nursing shortage.
As of 2023, Nevada is not part of the Nurse Licensure Compact. The state has put forth Assembly Bill 108, however, in hopes of allowing Nevada to recognize out-of-state nursing licenses – and allow Nevada nurses to work in other parts of the United States – and allow nurses to forego the time or expense required to achieve additional licenses. The bill is expected go before the Nevada State Assembly again. Until it is passed into law, nurses who are only licensed in Nevada cannot work in other states.
Common Allegations that Can Put a Nursing License at Risk
The Nevada State Board of Nursing is responsible for ensuring that nurses, at all levels, are working to protect the health, safety, and well-being of Nevada's citizens. There are several reasons why they may decide to investigate or take up specific disciplinary actions against a licensed nurse. Some of the more common reasons include:
- Unprofessional conduct. This category is quite broad. It covers everything within your professional code of conduct. That means anything and everything from inadequate record keeping to discriminating against patients or colleagues on the basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, or sex in the rendering of nursing services falls under this umbrella. It may also include an inappropriate romantic or sexual relationship with a colleague, patient, or supervisor, failure to maintain a patient's privacy, or failing to report gross negligence of a fellow licensee. The Nevada State Board of Nursing outlines all potential areas of professional misconduct in the Nevada Administrative Code Section 632.890.
- Improper handling, misuse, or diversion of drugs. While the vast majority of nurses cannot legally prescribe drugs to patients, they are usually the ones to administer medications. The state of Nevada takes the mishandling of drugs very seriously – it's a patient safety issue. Allegations that a nurse has failed to document medications correctly, given a patient the wrong dose of a medication, or has diverted drugs for personal use, will be fully investigated. It's also important to recognize that any allegations concerning the mishandling or misuse of drugs may not only result in the loss of your license – it could also result in a corresponding criminal complaint.
- Providing services outside the scope of your license. The Nevada Nurse Practice Act specifies what each type of nurse can and can't do as part of their clinical practice. If an RN participates in activities designated for BSNs or MSNs, that are outside of their own designed scope of practice, they may face disciplinary action.
- Patient abuse or neglect. The Nightingale Pledge, the Nurse's version of the Hippocratic oath, states that nurses “will not do anything evil or malicious, and [we] will not knowingly give any harmful drug or assist in malpractice.” Professional nursing licenses can be placed at risk if a nurse is accused of mistreating a patient – but nurses also face risk by failing to maintain a minimum standard of nursing practice. If you have been accused of failing to provide a patient with adequate or timely care, or some other form of neglect or incompetence, you may face disciplinary penalties.
- Fraud. Nurses accused of falsifying patient or administrative records, overstating their educational attainment, experience, or credentials, or fraudulently billing insurance companies face extreme peril when it comes to professional licensure.
- Criminal convictions. An act does not have to occur within the four walls of the hospital or medical practice to potentially impact your professional nursing license. Being convicted of specific crimes, including theft, driving under the influence (DUI), or drug possession, may put your license at risk in Nevada. It's also important to understand that you are required to report any recent convictions to the Nevada State Board of Nursing. Not doing so could also trigger discipline by the state.
The State of Nevada takes all complaints against licensed nurses very seriously. But as you read through this list of common issues, it is easy to see where a complaint may be triggered by a misunderstanding, lack of resources, or temporary lapse in judgment. With your professional nursing license at stake, your good reputation is not enough to protect you from potential censure or more. You need experienced counsel to guide you as you navigate these potentially perilous waters. If you have been accused of any of the above, or any other license-threatening behavior or action,contact the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 immediately to discuss the next steps.
Understanding the Nursing License Disciplinary Process in Nevada
The Nevada State Board of Nursing has specific procedures for handling complaints about licensed professional nurses. It's important to understand that anyone may file a formal complaint against any licensed professional in the state. Nurses are no exception. Complaints can come from patients, families, doctors, nurses, other clinical staff, administrators, insurance companies, or even bystanders. It is also important to note that it's fairly easy to submit a complaint. Instructions, as well as an online form, are available on the Nevada State Board of Nursing website. Under state law, the Nevada State Board of Nursing has the authority to investigate any and all complaints. If they receive information that a nurse or even a nursing assistant has violated the Nevada Nurse Practice Act, they are compelled to act.
That said, once a complaint is investigated by the Nevada State Board of Nursing, they ensure that each person accused of violating the terms of their license is given due process. Those steps include:
- Investigation. Upon reviewing any complaint, the Nevada State Board of Nursing will open an investigation. They will assign an investigator, who has the authority to interview witnesses, including the complainant and your employer, subpoena documentation and other relevant evidence, and even request your written response to the complaint. If there is not sufficient evidence to support the charge, the Nevada State Board of Nursing will dismiss it. Yet, if they do find evidence that supports the allegation, the process will move forward.
- Notification and description of the charges. Once the Nevada State Board of Nursing's internal investigation has deemed an allegation credible, they will provide written notice to the nurse or nursing assistant involved. That notice will include a description of the charges, information about policies and procedures, and details about any forthcoming hearings or opportunities for a hearing.
- Notification of rights. Like a court of law, anyone alleged to have violated the terms of their license has the right to retain an attorney, the right to a formal or informal hearing, the right to see the complaint, the right to provide evidence in their defense, and the right to appeal any decision made regarding discipline.
- Consent agreement. If there is ample evidence to support the charge, but perhaps there were mitigating circumstances, the Board may attempt to negotiate what's known as a consent agreement. A consent agreement, broadly defined, is a formal document where you admit wrongdoing and agree to submit to any recommendations for improvement or specific penalties. When disciplinary action is unavoidable, consent agreements can be beneficial to the accused. They often provide an opportunity to avoid license suspension or removal – or, if the worst happens, generally provide a path toward license reinstatement. You should always consult with a knowledgeable attorney before signing any consent agreement – they can make sure your rights are protected, even if you do admit to fault.
- Formal hearing. If a consent agreement is not offered – or you decline to sign one that was offered – the Nevada State Board of Nursing will convene a formal hearing in front of a state examiner. This hearing is a bit like a court of law. The board investigator will present evidence, and you will have the opportunity to provide evidence in your defense. You also have the right to be represented by an attorney, who will help you craft a strong defense to help you reach the best outcome. After the hearing, the examiner will determine whether the evidence supports the charges and then make recommendations about which disciplinary actions should be enacted.
Potential Disciplinary Actions
If the evidence presented at a formal hearing does support the allegations, there are a range of different disciplinary actions that may be undertaken by the Nevada State Board of Nursing. What penalties are issued depends on each case – the Board takes pains to consider each case individually. Such penalties are based on the severity of the charge, past disciplinary history, how far the act deviated from standard practice, evidence of rehabilitation or remorse, an evaluation of the nurse's ability to continue to practice safely, and other mitigating factors which may have contributed to the act. Common disciplinary penalties include, but are not limited to:
- Reprimand fee. You may face censure and be asked to pay some sort of reprimand fee or fine.
- Probation. The Nevada State Board of Nursing may decide to put you on probation. This means the Board will watch you over a determined period of time to ensure you are practicing safely and in accordance with your license.
- Continuing education. The Board may also mandate continuing education classes. These may be mandated by themselves or in addition to another disciplinary action.
- Suspension. Your license may be suspended for a set period of time, with a specific roadmap regarding required actions for reinstatement.
- Revocation. In extreme cases, or cases where there are multiple or repeat offenses, the Board may determine to revoke your nursing license. That means you are no longer licensed to practice as a nurse in the state of Nevada.
- Alternative to Discipline Program. The state of Nevada also offers a unique program to help nurses with chemical dependencies to monitor their recovery and help them re-enter the nursing workforce. It's called the Alternative to Discipline Program and may be available for nurses who have had issues with substance misuse.
Providing a Strong Defense, Every Step of the Way
While the Nevada State Board of Nursing offers each nurse charged with a violation due process – and that process shares similarities with a court of law – there is no presumption of innocence. The Nevada State Board of Nursing is there to protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of patients – and that gives them broad authority to strongly discipline nurses for issues that may have significant mitigating factors. It's also important to be aware that the Board works with a preponderance of evidence standard. There's no reasonable doubt here. If the Board believes that you are likely to have committed the offense, you will be found accountable. Unfortunately, that means the deck is already stacked against you as soon as the complainant hits send on the allegation.
This is why it is so important to have a Professional License Defense Attorney to protect your rights. Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team understand the policies, procedures, and protocols for nursing license defense in Nevada. They can help you collect pertinent evidence, assist you with drafting a response to the Board that may lead them to dismiss the complaint outright; they can represent you at the hearing, negotiate on your behalf, and, if the worst happens, help you appeal the ruling. The Lento Law Firm will protect your rights every step of the way – and make sure you can protect your license, your livelihood, and your future.
The Lento Law Firm serves professionally licensed nurses across the state of Nevada. Most of our clients work in more densely populated urban areas, where there are more likely to be thriving healthcare centers and physician practices. But we also help those in more rural areas. We represent nurses in:
Las Vegas. Las Vegas is not only home to the Strip, but also home to the Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, Las Vegas' largest acute care facility with more than 760 beds. It is also a Level II Trauma Center and employs hundreds of nurses. The University Medical Center of Southern Nevada is also headquartered in Las Vegas. This healthcare organization is a Level I Trauma Center and is affiliated with the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Other hospitals include Summerlin Hospital Medical Center, Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center, Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center, Valley Hospital Medical Center, and Mountain View Hospital.
Reno. Surprisingly, Nevada's largest hospital isn't in Las Vegas. Reno's Renown Regional Medical Center sees more than 80,000 emergency room visits each year. It is also a leading employer of nurses. The city of Reno is home to St. Mary's Regional Medical Center.
Henderson. St. Rose Dominican Hospital's Siena Campus is located in Henderson, Nevada. It is a well-known surgical center in the area.
The Lento Law Firm also serves nurses in other hospitals, surgical centers, physician practices, and other healthcare settings across the state.
Get the Counsel You Need Now
If you are a nurse in Nevada, you realize the challenges of having any complaint against your license. While you may be frustrated or angry, it's important not to take matters into your own hands.
Joseph D. Lento and the Professional License Defense Team know that nursing is a complex field – and that your license is the key to your success. When you retain the Lento Law Firm, you can rest assured you have an experienced, knowledgeable team of advocates there to help you protect your career. Contact Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm to discuss your case – and find a path forward to protect your nursing license – at (888) 535-3686 today.