Rhode Island Nurse Practitioners: Defending Your License

As a nurse practitioner, you worked hard for your certification. This license represents countless hours of study and years of your life. It represents dedication, hard work, and a personal and financial investment to improve your professional prospects. And having that license suspended is a big deal.

This is not only an emotional blow but also a financial one. Until matters are resolved, you cannot work under your nurse practitioner license and must undergo a lengthy review process to be reinstated. This puts a damper on your employment prospects and may force you to take lower-paying jobs well beneath the education you've earned.

At the Lento Law Firm, we understand how stressful this situation can be. The Rhode Island laws governing professional licensing are incredibly complex and nuanced, and it can be overwhelming trying to navigate these issues alone. Luckily, though, you don't have to.

If you've had your nurse practitioner license suspended in Rhode Island and aren't sure what to do next, we want to hear from you. Call the Lento Law Firm Team today at 1(888) 535-3686 or contact us online, and let us help defend your rights during this critical process.

Understanding the Authority: The Rhode Island Department of Health and Board of Nursing

In Rhode Island, all nurse practitioner license and regulation requirements are governed by the Rhode Island Board of Nursing. This licensing board falls under the jurisdiction of the Rhode Island Department of Health and plays a crucial role in upholding nurse practitioner standards across the state. Its job is to ensure public safety by investigating complaints and taking disciplinary actions when necessary.

All disciplinary actions—including the status of revoked and suspended licenses—can be found on the Rhode Island Department of Health's website. This information is public and can be accessed by searching for an individual's last name, license type, or the facility they work for.

Initiating Disciplinary Actions: The Complaint

A disciplinary action—such as a suspended license—starts when someone files a complaint against you. Complaints can arise from various situations, but the board is only interested in allegations that affect the state's licensing process. This includes claims that involve:

  • Practice-related violations.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse.
  • A boundary violation.
  • Sexual misconduct.
  • Abuse.
  • Fraud.
  • Positive criminal background check.

It's important to note that the Rhode Island Board of Nursing is not a center for resolving customer service disputes. They do not handle issues like personality conflicts, billing errors, rudeness, poor customer service, or employer disputes. These issues are outside of their control and should be redirected to the relevant department or quality control committee in charge of those things.

Who Can File a Complaint?

While anyone can file these complaints, most of the licensing complaints received by the board come from one of the following individuals:

  • Someone you work with.
  • A patient or client.
  • Another practitioner.
  • An insurance claims adjuster.
  • A court representative (such as a clerk).

Once a complaint has been filed, it cannot be revoked. The information it contains and any subsequent investigation proceedings are strictly confidential. However, they cannot be made anonymously.

In Rhode Island, if someone wants to file a complaint, they must provide their personal information and a full description of the offending incident. This protects the accused license holder's right to due process and ensures that the person can be fully involved in any claims made against them.

Investigating a Complaint

If the complaint falls under the Department of Health's jurisdiction—and so long as it holds merit—then the department will open an investigation. This investigation aims to determine whether there were any violations of the Nurse Practice Act or any other regulations.

The Nurse Practice Act governs the ethics, duties, and legal responsibilities of nurses to their patients, other nurses, and community members. Violations of this law include substance abuse, gross negligence or incompetence, falsifying medical records, criminal arrest, fraud or theft, abuse, and drug-related offenses.

Exactly how this investigation proceeds depends a lot on the type and severity of the offense, but their main goal here is to collect as much information as possible about the matter at hand. This might include:

  • Requesting documents from the accuser and other sources.
  • Conducting interviews with the accuser.
  • Following up with the accused about their side of events.
  • Asking the accused for a written response.
  • Conducting witness interviews on site.
  • Requesting court documents if the incident involves criminal charges.

This process takes time and can often take months to complete. However, before you answer any questions, it's best to talk to an attorney who can ensure your rights are being protected during your professional license defense.

Evaluating the Evidence

After reviewing the evidence, the board will determine whether or not disciplinary action is warranted. Under Rhode Island law, the board can deny, revoke, or suspend any nurse practitioner license if there is proof that the accused person:

  • Used fraud or deceit to get their license.
  • Committed a crime of gross immorality.
  • Has Been either negligent or incompetent in their work.
  • Has a history of drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Was mentally incompetent.
  • Was guilty of unprofessional conduct.

Examples of unprofessional conduct include patient abandonment, falsifying reports or records, omitting information required by law, willfully disregarding standard practices, and willfully violating any rules and statutes that relate to a nurse practitioner's license.

Taking Disciplinary Action

After evaluating the evidence, the board will decide whether or not to take disciplinary action. The exact nature of these sanctions and penalties usually depends on what happened (and how severe it was), but the Rhode Island rules and regulations that govern professional licensing give the board a lot of flexibility in devising punishments for license violations.

That being said, some of the measures they might take could include:

  • Warning or reprimand.
  • Fines.
  • Probationary period.
  • License and practice suspension.
  • Educational remedies.
  • License revocation.

Once the board makes a decision, it is required to notify the accused nurse practitioner of their decision, along with the exact nature of their sanctions. This notification usually arrives as a “letter of consent” or “consent order.”

Consent Agreement

A consent agreement is a formal letter that outlines the charges against you, the evidence, and the formal sanctions that the board has decided to take. These letters are usually public to reassure the person making a claim against you that the board has taken their complaint seriously.

If you accept the Board's decision, the consent agreement terms will go into effect immediately. However, if you disagree with their findings, you can defend yourself at a formal hearing.

As an accused professional, a hearing can be incredibly valuable—not just because it lets you present your own evidence—but also emotionally. This is because most of the board's investigation happens behind closed doors. Choosing to go forward with a hearing can be very therapeutic because it will give you a broader understanding of everything that went into the board's decision.

That being said, it's not always easy to know if this is the right decision. The hearing process can be stressful and time-consuming, and—depending on the severity of the action—it might be better to accept the terms and apply for reinstatement later. A qualified attorney can help you determine which choice is right for you.

Administrative Hearing and Appeals

As an accused nurse practitioner facing the possibility of disciplinary action, it's essential for you to understand that you have rights and options. One of these options is the right to appeal the board's decision outlined in their consent agreement.

In Rhode Island, nurse practitioners have a full administrative hearing. This hearing allows the accused nurse practitioner to present evidence, call witnesses, and make arguments in their defense.

However, it's important to note that a board hearing is not an actual trial. There are no formal rules of civil procedure and evidence, and the board does not have to find you guilty “beyond reasonable doubt,” as in a true criminal trial. Instead, the board's main priority is public safety, and they have the power to levy any sanctions they think will ultimately serve the public's best interest, which is why it's so important to have a qualified attorney fighting in your court.

While self-representation is always an option, having an experienced attorney is the best way to ensure a favorable appeals process. The Lento Law Firm specializes in license defense and has a proven track record of successfully advocating for healthcare professionals facing disciplinary actions like yours. While it isn't the same as an actual court case, our presence is still an invaluable resource in securing the best possible outcome.

It May be Possible to Reinstate Your License

Having your license suspended or revoked doesn't mean the end of your career, and in some cases, it may be possible for you to get it back. Once the timeframe for your suspension has lapsed, you can do this by filing a petition to reinstate.

Part of this application process will include proving that the terms of your suspension no longer exist. (For example, if you were suspended for drug abuse, you might need to show proof of recovery and therapy.) You must also file the correct forms and pay a filing fee.

If your license was revoked, you may need to get recertified and retake your tests. This decision is up to the board, which has discretion over all decisions relating to your reinstation.

As a nurse practitioner, your license is more than a job or paycheck. Helping people is your life calling, and you are passionate about the work you do. At the Lento Law Firm, we understand this passion and are equally enthusiastic about helping you live up to your full potential as a certified nurse practitioner.

A Qualified Licensing Attorney Can Help

At the Lento Law firm, we understand the stress and uncertainty that license investigations can bring. The good news is you don't have to do it alone. Under the Rhode Island State Board of Nursing's rules and regulations, you have the right to have legal representation during your hearing and appeals process, and our dedicated team is here to do just that.

Our firm handles many types of professional licensing issues. If you've had your nurse practitioner license suspended, our dedicated team is here to provide you with personalized legal advice every step of the way.

Some of the services we provide include:

  • Case Evaluation—A comprehensive overview of your situation to assess the strength of the allegations against you and your defense. Armed with the bigger picture, we can then strategize with you on what would likely be the best course of action.
  • Defense Strategy—Our attorneys will develop a strategic defense plan tailored to your unique needs, leveraging our deep understanding of Rhode Island's nursing regulations and disciplinary process.
  • Representation—We will represent you during all stages of the investigation and disciplinary process, vigorously defending your rights and interests. This gives you peace of mind, knowing that whatever outcome is reached is the best scenario for your unique situation.
  • Education and Support—Throughout the process, we will inform you of any new developments and keep you apprised of all your options. This will relieve some of your mental stress and help you choose options that will get you closest to your goals.
  • Appeals Advocacy—If your license is at risk of suspension or revocation, we will help you pursue all available means of appeal and represent your interests during these hearings.
  • Reinstatement—If your license has been revoked, our team can help you reapply to get it back. Our knowledgeable lawyers will guide you through the petition process and advocate to the Rhode Island Department of Health and its board of nursing staff on your behalf.

At the end of the day, you worked hard for this certification. This license is a critical part of your professional career, and no matter what stage of the disciplinary process you're in, you deserve to have quality legal representation you can trust.

Talk to An Experienced Attorney About Your Rhode Island License Suspension

If you are a nurse practitioner and have had your license suspended or revoked, we want to hear from you. Call the Lento Law Firm Team today at 1(888) 535-3686 or contact us online, and let one of our experienced attorneys provide you with the personalized attention and aggressive advocacy you deserve.


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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