We Can Help If Your Tennessee Nurse's License Is in Jeopardy
Facing nursing license disciplinary charges in Tennessee is a formidable professional challenge, as big of a challenge as anything you've faced in your nursing career. Don't go it alone. Be wise, and get the skilled and experienced professional help you need for your best outcome to Tennessee nursing license disciplinary charges. Professional license disciplinary proceedings of any kind are serious business but especially for nurses facing misconduct allegations.
Disciplinary charges place your Tennessee nursing license at risk. Don't retain unqualified local criminal defense counsel. Instead, retain the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team and national license defense attorney Joseph D. Lento to help you defend your misconduct allegations. Call 888.535.3686 or go online now to retain the premier Professional License Defense Team to meet your Tennessee nursing license issues head-on and achieve your best possible outcome.
Tennessee State Board of Nursing License Proceedings
Tennessee's Board of Nursing has the express statutory authority and responsibility to set the standards for licensing nurses, grant licenses only to qualified applicants, and suspend or revoke nursing licenses on disciplinary charges. Tennessee Code Section 63-7-207 authorizes the Board of Nursing to “conduct hearings upon charges of suspension or revocation of a license … and deny, suspend, or revoke for proper cause licenses” to practice nursing in Tennessee. Tennessee's Board of Nursing disciplines up to dozens of nurses each month, as the Tennessee Department of Health publishes for public review in its monthly disciplinary action reports. Those reports show just how common nursing license discipline is in Tennessee.
Tennessee's State Board of Nursing takes seriously its obligation to protect the public. For example, when the FBI's Operation Nightingale named thousands of licensed nurses nationwide for allegedly buying fraudulent nursing credentials, Tennessee was no exception in examining nurse credentials for involvement in that scandal. But the monthly disciplinary action reports show that Tennessee's Board of Nursing disciplines nurses for many other reasons, not just suspect credentials. Tennessee Code Section 63-7-101 introduces Tennessee's Nurse Practice Act as having the purpose “to safeguard life and health by requiring each person who is practicing or is offering to practice nursing to submit evidence that the person is qualified to practice and to be licensed as provided in this chapter.” Tennessee Administrative Code Section 1000-01-.04(4)(a) reinforces that the Board of Nursing “has the power to deny, revoke or suspend any certificate or license to practice nursing, as provided in the Nursing Acts….” Retain the Lento Law Firm's premier Professional License Defense Team if you face charges.
Tennessee State Board of Nursing Rules and Standards
Even while you retain our Professional License Defense Team's highly qualified license defense attorneys for your representation, let this page be your summary guide to Tennessee Board of Nursing rules and standards. You are a professional. You know that it is hard to win at anything if you don't know the rules. Having at least a broad sense of the Tennessee Board of Nursing's rules and standards can help you understand what our Team needs to do for your best disciplinary charge outcome. Our Team needs your full cooperation. You also need to have full confidence in our Team's license defense attorneys. You also should have confidence that you can beat or minimize the professional and personal impact of your disciplinary charges. Just because you face disciplinary charges doesn't mean that you've committed misconduct. Even if the charges have a substantial basis, in fact, you need not necessarily suffer career-crippling discipline. Trust the process, and get the help you need for your best outcome.
Defending Your Tennessee Nursing License
Don't undervalue your Tennessee nursing license. Getting your nursing license wasn't easy. You made a huge investment of time, effort, and resources in your nursing education to qualify for and pass the NCLEX. Your nursing license enables your Tennessee nursing practice and employment, which doubtless have substantial financial, professional, and personal rewards. You and your family likely depend on the income you earn, and your well-being likely depends on your opportunity to participate in your chosen nursing profession with your full energy and compassion.
While you properly value your Tennessee nursing license, don't underestimate your ability to defend your license against disciplinary charges. Disciplinary officials appreciate that nursing practice is challenging. Your profession performs with the highest stakes when patients are already diseased or disabled. Patients can misunderstand the natural course of their disease, the medical care they are receiving, and the appropriateness and effects of their actions. False or meritless complaints against nurses can be common under these circumstances. Nurses also are not perfect. Disciplinary officials won't necessarily discipline you for every mistake or misunderstanding, especially when your retained license defense attorney can help you give appropriate context to your actions. The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team can help.
The Nature of Tennessee Board of Nursing Charges
Tennessee Board of Nursing disciplinary charges differ from other legal proceedings like criminal court charges or civil litigation. Professional disciplinary charges are administrative proceedings, not court proceedings. Administrative proceedings generally do not threaten jail or prison time, like a criminal court proceeding. Administrative proceedings generally do not threaten civil liability, like civil court proceedings. Administrative proceedings also tend to have abbreviated procedures. You will not face a jury trial over your disciplinary charges but instead may face a disciplinary hearing before an administrative officer. The Tennessee Board of Nursing can, though, effectively end your nursing career with an order revoking your license. The Board can also impose civil penalties under Tennessee Administrative Code Section 1000-01-.04(6). And Tennessee Administrative Code Section 1000-01-.04 gives disciplinary officials subpoenas and other court-like powers to see that their investigations are effective and their penalties get enforced.
The Stakes of Tennessee Nursing License Charges
Tennessee is among the thirty-nine states participating in the national Nurse Licensure Compact. Under the Nurse Licensure Compact, you have the ability to practice in those thirty-eight other participating states without having to go through an elaborate process of obtaining another state nursing license. Tennessee's participation in the Compact, though, also means that any disciplinary action against your Tennessee nursing license simultaneously affects your ability to practice in those other thirty-eight states. Indeed, your Tennessee nursing license discipline should promptly appear in the Compact's national Nursys database, reflecting the status of your license. Licensing agencies and employers in other states use Nursys to confirm your professional license status and standing. Even in the remaining states that do not participate in the Compact, licensing officials will use Nursys information to determine whether you qualify for licensure. Whatever happens to your Tennessee nursing license can affect your ability to practice nursing anywhere in the United States.
What Allegations Put a Tennessee Nurse's License at Risk?
Professionals in all fields face common causes of license issues. The nursing practice raises its own nursing license risks unusual to healthcare professions or even unique to the nursing field. Tennessee Code Section 63-7-115 lists the broad grounds on which the Tennessee Board of Nursing may discipline nurses. The statute grants disciplinary officials broad discretion to discern the details of what constitutes misconduct under those grounds. That official discretion to discern, define, and charge nursing misconduct makes your skilled and experienced defense representation all the more important. Here are the broad categories of misconduct for which Tennessee's nursing rules and standards will support disciplinary charges.
Credentials Fraud as Grounds for Tennessee Nursing License Discipline
Tennessee Code Section 63-7-115 authorizes the Board of Nursing to “deny, revoke, or suspend” your nursing license if you are “guilty of fraud or deceit in procuring or attempting to procure a license to practice nursing….” Nurse disciplinary proceedings under provisions like this one are common. Hundreds of nurses faced such discipline following the FBI's Operation Nightingale charges over allegedly fraudulent nursing credentials. But it doesn't take an FBI operation to implicate nurses in credentials issues. Nurses face credentials charges in many other instances, leaving no doubt of the risk that nurses face when disciplinary officials doubt the authenticity of their educational credentials.
Conviction of Crime as Grounds for Tennessee Nursing License Discipline
Tennessee Code Section 63-7-115 also authorizes the Board of Nursing to “deny, revoke, or suspend” your nursing license if you are “guilty of a crime….” Disciplinary officials typically seek license discipline against nurses convicted of crimes of violence, crimes of moral turpitude, and crimes calling their fitness into question, such as crimes involving alcohol or drug abuse. Violent crimes like assault, domestic violence, and robbery may indicate that a nurse is a danger to patients and the public. Crimes of dishonesty may indicate that a nurse would falsify nursing records. And crimes relating to drug or alcohol abuse may indicate that a nurse would practice while impaired or might steal and use or distribute prescription medication or other controlled substances. Even property crimes like theft and embezzlement may result in disciplinary charges.
Unfitness or Incompetence as Grounds for Tennessee Nursing License Discipline
Tennessee Code Section 63-7-115 also authorizes the Board of Nursing to “deny, revoke, or suspend” your nursing license if you are “unfit or incompetent by reason of negligence, habits, or other cause….” This category can implicate virtually anything that violates nursing customs or practice standards. Patient neglect or abuse, disregard of physician orders, carelessness in following physician orders, and substandard care, whether or not leading to patient injury, can all result in disciplinary charges. Patient complaints, complaints from concerned family members, and complaints from colleagues, subordinates, or supervisors can all trigger disciplinary charges.
Substance Addiction as Grounds for Tennessee Nursing License Discipline
Tennessee Code Section 63-7-115 also authorizes the Board of Nursing to “deny, revoke, or suspend” your nursing license if you are “addicted to alcohol or drugs to the degree of interfering with nursing duties….” The concern is that impaired nursing performance may result in patient injury or demise, malpractice liability, and mistrust of the nursing profession. Impaired performance can also endanger professional colleagues and the impaired nurse. Impaired performance can readily lead to disciplinary charges. Indeed, Tennessee Administrative Code Section 1000-01-.13(1)(2) requires other licensed nurses to report a nurse suspected of impaired practice, on penalty of discipline against the nurse who fails to report. Fortunately, though, Tennessee's Board of Nursing participates in the state's Peer Assistance Program, giving nurses suspected of impairment the opportunity to avoid discipline in some cases by submitting to evaluation and undergoing appropriate education, counseling, or treatment. Do not agree to Peer Assistance Program referral without consulting a skilled and experienced license defense attorney from the Lento Law Firm. Program conditions may severely restrict your practice and, in the worst case, set you up for later license suspension or revocation.
Mental Incompetence as Grounds for Tennessee Nursing License Discipline
Tennessee Code Section 63-7-115 also authorizes the Board of Nursing to “deny, revoke, or suspend” your nursing license if you are “mentally incompetent….” Mental incompetence may include not just court-adjudicated guardianships and conservatorships but also professional impairment from serious or severe depression, sleeplessness, lack of concentration, suicidal ideation, and other psychological conditions. Incompetence charges can require psychological evaluation and expertise in defense.
Unprofessionalism as Grounds for Tennessee Nursing License Discipline
Tennessee Code Section 63-7-115 also authorizes the Board of Nursing to “deny, revoke, or suspend” your nursing license if you are “guilty of unprofessional conduct….” Tennessee Administrative Code Section 1000-01-.13(1) further defines unprofessional conduct to include injuring a patient, failing to keep accurate nursing records, falsifying nursing records, abandoning or neglecting a patient, unauthorized use of narcotics, use of intoxicating alcohol or drugs while on duty, impersonating another healthcare provider, letting another use one's own license, failing to supervise others as assigned, helping others violate nursing standards, unduly influencing patients to provide things of value, discriminating in providing nursing services based on race, age, sex, religion, national origin, or the condition of the patient, breaching patient confidentiality, and engaging in dishonest acts.
What Is the Disciplinary Process for Tennessee Nurses?
You may fear and regret facing the investigatory and adjudicatory process through which you must go to address your Tennessee nursing license disciplinary charges. But those constitutionally required procedures can provide your retained professional license defense attorney with substantial opportunities to resolve your case favorably. Tennessee Code Section 63-7-116 defines the state's nurse disciplinary procedures. Those procedures are as follows.
Tennessee Board of Nursing Complaints
Under Tennessee Code Section 63-7-116, any person may complain in writing to the Board of Nursing, or Board members may act on their own as the complainants. The Board's designated official evaluates and investigates the allegations to determine whether they have merit. The Board dismisses meritless or trivial complaints. If you learn of an investigation and promptly retain qualified license defense counsel, this preliminary review may give you and your retained license defense attorney the opportunity to present information to the investigator advocating for the dismissal of the charges. This is the best time to contact the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm.
Tennessee Board of Nursing Formal Hearings
Under Tennessee Code Section 63-7-116, the Board of Nursing must notify you within ninety days of a meritorious complaint if the Board intends to proceed with disciplinary charges. The notice must state the time, date, and place of the formal hearing on the charges. The full Board or a panel of no fewer than three Board members composes the hearing panel. A majority vote of panel members decides the charges. The Board chair or vice-chair presides over the hearing with the power to issue subpoenas to compel witness attendance and to administer oaths for truthful testimony. You and your retained attorney have the right to attend the hearing, present your own defense witnesses and exhibits, and cross-examine the Board's witnesses against you. The Board records the hearing for an administrative appeal to the civil courts under limited review authority.
Tennessee Board of Nursing Consent Agreements
The Tennessee Board of Nursing has the authority to resolve disciplinary charges by consent agreement. Depending on your circumstances and the nature of your disciplinary charges, this authority gives your retained license defense attorney another opportunity to negotiate a resolution of your disciplinary charges on terms under which you may be able to keep your nursing license and employment. However, a Tennessee Board of Nursing Position Statement mandates that a consent agreement must “contain language that provides for revocation/suspension of licensure upon non-compliance with the order.” Do not agree to a consent order proposal without retaining and consulting qualified license defense representation. Consent agreements can look and be attractive, especially in that you avoid a license disciplinary hearing and may get to keep your license. But consent agreements can contain onerous requirements. In the worst case, a consent agreement can set you up for license revocation when you are unable to comply with the agreement's terms.
Why You Need a Nursing License Defense Attorney in Tennessee
The above information should convince you of your need for skilled and experienced professional license defense attorney representation because of the complexity of the disciplinary proceedings and the seriousness of the risks you face. Tennessee disciplinary officials have other advantages over you unless you retain skilled defense counsel. Disciplinary officials have all the resources of the state. They are ordinarily highly skilled and experienced, while the nurses who appear before them usually have no skill or experience in administrative hearing matters. Tennessee disciplinary officials also need only prove their charges against you by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that what they allege is more likely than not true.
Unlike a criminal charge that prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in the face of a presumption of the defendant's innocence, disciplinary officials meet their low proof standard simply by providing some evidence that you committed the wrong they allege. It's then up to you to come forward with stronger contrary evidence. You may have substantial contrary evidence, but unless you retain skilled counsel to present that evidence, you may suffer discipline for failing to overcome the state's evidence against you. The Tennessee Board of Nursing won't presume your innocence. It will instead first protect patients and the public.
How a Nursing License Defense Attorney Helps in Tennessee
When you retain a skilled and experienced professional license defense attorney from the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team, that attorney can do many things to turn your disciplinary proceeding in your favor. The first thing is to discern your best individual strategic approach, given that every case is different. Your attorney may help you identify, acquire, and present exonerating and mitigating evidence at the investigation stage. They may communicate and negotiate with Tennessee Board of Nursing officials for an appropriate consent agreement setting you up for success, and may attend the formal hearing to skillfully cross-examine the witnesses against you while presenting your defense. Or your attorney may appeal a hearing that you have already lost without effective representation. Whatever your individual circumstances require, skilled and experienced license defense representation gives you the best opportunity to beat your disciplinary charges.
License Defense Team for Tennessee Nursing Charges
The Lento Law Firm's premier Professional License Defense Team and national license defense attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento are available in Tennessee for your disciplinary defense, whether you are a licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, nurse midwife, advanced practice nurse, or clinical nurse specialist. Protect your valuable nursing job and career. Do as many other nurses and other healthcare professionals nationwide have done: trust the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team to defend and defeat disciplinary charges. Call 888.535.3686 or go online now.