Attorney Joseph D. Lento assists nurses whose professional licenses are threatened by allegations of misconduct. Contact the Lento Law Firm Team at (888) 535-3686 or use our online form today to schedule a consultation.
Mississippi nurses undergo years of intensive education, clinical, and field practice and sit for the NCLEX examination in order to serve in their profession. It is challenging but rewarding. It is challenging but rewarding. As a nurse, your work is vital to hospitals and clinics throughout Mississippi and is critical to patients who rely on you for their care.
When someone accuses you of wrongdoing, the professional license you worked so long hard for is in jeopardy, as is your professional career and reputation. It is important that you take this threat seriously and seek the advice of a license defense attorney who understands the disciplinary process for nurses to ensure your rights are protected.
The Mississippi Board of Nursing takes allegations of misconduct very seriously, and you should, too. The Board holds the power to strip you of your license, effectively ending the career you worked so hard for.
When your professional Board is investigating a complaint made against you by another party, it is crucial that you retain the services of an attorney experienced in license defense. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team have assisted nurses just like you in Mississippi and across the United States, in defending their professional licenses. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 or use our online form to discuss your case.
What Types of Allegations Can Put a Nurse's License at Risk?
Mississippi Board of Nursing identifies several types of complaints and allegations that may lead to an investigation of a licensed nurse and could result in the Board denying, revoking, or suspending a nurse's professional license. Some of the more common ones include the following:
Violating the professional boundaries of the nurse-patient relationship is not permitted and may include:
- Engaging in conduct that is sexual or reasonably interpreted as sexual with a patient, a patient's immediate family, or a patient's significant other.
- Emotional or financial exploitation of a patient or a patient's immediate family member or significant other.
- Engaging in inappropriate behavior such as exposure or gratification in the presence of a patient.
- Using inappropriate language, engaging in sexual harassment, or developing relationships with supervisors or subordinates.
Mishandling of medications.
Mishandling of drugs involves inaccurate record keeping of medication inventories, diverting medications meant for patients, stealing medications for personal use, forging prescriptions, and similar activities.
Failing to properly maintain medical records.
Your nursing license may be at risk for suspension or revocation if you fail to properly maintain medical records by:
- Altering entries or destroying medical records
- Failing to make intelligible essential entries
- Recording entries prior to providing patient care, including medication administration and treatments
- Making false entries in patient records.
Patient abuse or neglect.
Nurses who physically, verbally, emotionally, sexually, or mentally abuse a patient or fail to give patients timely or adequate care risk losing their license.
Fraudulent activities nurses may be involved in include overbilling insurance companies, overstating their credentials, and falsifying patient records.
Nurses who abuse drugs or alcohol on the job may be more prone to making errors in judgment and may not provide proper care to patients. Related actions that can result in license revocation in Mississippi include:
- Testing positive in a screening for alcohol, an illegal substance, or unauthorized medication.
- Demonstrating a pattern of abuse or habitual use of a medication.
- Impairment due to drugs or alcohol while on duty.
- Submitting a diluted, adulterated, or. Substituted specimen for testing.
- Not complying with a treatment plan for a substance use disorder.
If a court convicts you of certain crimes, particularly driving while under the influence, those involving drug use, or crimes of moral turpitude), it will likely result in you losing your nurse's license.
Other Actions That May Result in Sanctions and Fines
Mississippi Board of Nursing may administratively sanction and impose fines for the following actions:
- Failing to timely renew a nursing license while continuing to practice or engaging in nursing-related activities or duties.
- Failing to notify the Board in writing within 30 days of a chance of residence.
- Failing to notify the Board immediately after a change in practice site of the APRN and collaborative physician of the APRN.
- Failing to divulge current disciplinary action of a nursing license to an employer.
- Failure to meet the terms of an educational loan contract is grounds for revocation of a professional license, per the provisions of Mississippi Code Section 37-101-291.
- A nurse who fails to pay an administrative penalty within 30 days after notification may be subject to further disciplinary action.
What Is the Disciplinary Process for Nurses in Mississippi?
Formal complaints filed with the Mississippi Board of Nursing usually lead to an investigation and potential disciplinary actions against nurses in the state. Complainants may be patients, colleagues, employers, or any member of the public. Disciplinary processes typically move forward over the next several weeks or months and in a standard process, such as:
Request for Written Response
Upon receiving a complaint, the Board's Legal Division must provide each individual with due process. This includes the Board giving notice to its licensees of a complaint and requesting a written response against the accused. Responding to the Board's notice is essential as it may convince the Board to dismiss the complaint without further action. You must provide a convincing argument for the scenario in question and supporting evidence. Retaining a professional license defense attorney helps you build a strong case from the beginning, improving your chances of convincing the Board to dismiss your case without moving toward an investigation.
After reviewing your response, the Board may choose to dismiss your case or launch an investigation to learn more. If the latter, the Board assigns an investigator to fact-find and look for evidence supporting the claim. This may include interviews with the complainant and others, requests for documents, and other activities. The Board may ask you to testify under oath. Once the probe is complete, the investigator will compile a report for the Board along with their recommendations. The Board will use this information when deciding whether to take non-disciplinary or disciplinary action.
- If the Board decides to take a non-disciplinary approach, it may be in the form of one of the following:
- Letter of Concern: an official notice to the licensee citing the specific violations and warning of the Board's ability to pursue formal disciplinary action if the Board receives further allegations within five years or receiving the Letter of Concern.
- Administrative Affidavits: a sworn statement by the applicant acknowledging that they falsified information or failed to include requested information in a board document or application. Administrative Affidavits usually accompany a monetary fine of up to $500. Failure to pay the fine may result in disciplinary action.
- Mississippi Alternative Program (MAP): a confidential program that promotes early identification of substance abuse, removal from nursing practice and entry into treatment, and monitoring compliance upon re-entry into nursing practice.
Disciplinary Actions & Consent Orders
If the investigation uncovers warrants disciplinary action, the Board of Nursing may offer to negotiate a consent order with you in place of a formal hearing. A consent order is a contract in which you acknowledge wrongdoings and agree to comply with the Board's disciplinary actions.
A consent order may include disciplinary actions such as:
- Formal reprimand
- Referral to an alternative disciplinary program
- Required continued education
- Drug or psychological evaluation
- License restriction or restricted privilege to practice
- Suspension of license
- Revocation of license
- Additional penalties or requirements based on the Board's discretion
A consent order may not seem like an optimal resolution in any case; however, it may be a good option for some nurses if it provides a path to having a license reinstated. An attorney experienced in professional license defense can negotiate with your Board for the best possible outcome.
Agreed Settlement Proposals
Agreed Settlement Proposals (ASPs) are proposals entered voluntarily by the Mississippi Board of Nursing Legal Division and the licensee as a way to avoid a formal public hearing by admitting to the violation. Penalties may include fines, formal reprimands, educational courses, supervised practice, and drug testing. Once approved by the Board, the licensee the Board will assign them to the compliance division.
If negotiations fail, you will be allowed to have your case heard before the Board in a formal hearing. Formal hearings before the Mississippi Board of Nursing run similarly to court hearings. The Board holds its formal hearings before a three-member panel of the Board. All formal hearings are public and open. A representative from the Mississippi Attorney General's Office presides over the proceedings, during which the presiding officer of the panel reads the charges and the licensee pleads guilty or not guilty to the allegations.
If the latter, each side will be allowed to give opening statements and present any evidence. If the licensee provides a written request, the Board will issue subpoenas for witnesses and documents. Once both sides have made their case, the Board panel will deliberate in a closed executive session, after which the panel will announce its decision on the record. The Board's decision may result in any one or a combination of any of the penalties mentioned above, which may include the suspension or revocation of your license.
Administrative Denials are a public disciplinary action in which the Executive Director of the Board exercises their authority to deny any application, including renewals or reinstatements, by citing violations of the Nurse Practice Act and/or the MSBN Administrative Code. Administrative Denials have the same effect as license revocation. Applicants denied licensure may re-apply one year from the date of receiving notification of the denial.
Licensed nurses have the right to appeal an Administrative Denial within 30 days of receiving notice. Or, if a nurse disagrees with the three-member Hearing panel's decision following a formal hearing, the licensee may appeal to the Full Membership of the Board.
If a nurse disagrees with the Full Membership of the Board's decision, the licensee can appeal to the Chancery Court in the county where the professional resides.
Following the Mississippi Board of Nursing's decision, the Board's compliance division closely monitors licensees who receive disciplinary or non-disciplinary actions as part of the Final Order to ensure completion of the requirements. Once the licensee meets the requirements, and depending on the severity of the alleged misconduct, the licensee may be eligible to have all stipulations removed from their license and/or their privilege to practice. Noncompliance actions may be reportable and are considered public information.
Nursing Landscape in Mississippi
Like many states across the U.S., Mississippi has experienced a shortage of nurses so severe at times that has threaten hospitals throughout the state. Officials blame stress during the pandemic as a major factor. According to the Mississippi Hospital Association, when registered nurse vacancies and turnover rates in 2022 reached their highest in at least a decade, Mississippi officials took steps to keep nurses in the state.
In March 2023, as an incentive to encourage nurses who graduate from Mississippi nursing schools to practice here, Gov. Tate Reeves announced the signing of Senate Bill 2373, which creates the "Skilled Nursing Home and Hospital Nurses Retention Loan Repayment Program." The program repays student loans of qualifying nurses who choose to stay and work in Mississippi at a rate of $6,000 per year for up to three years.
Interstate Licensing Compact for Nurses in Mississippi
On July 1, 2001, Mississippi joined the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). The Compact enables registered nurses and licensed practical nurse license to have one multistate license with the ability to practice in their home state as well as other states in the Compact, without having to obtain additional licenses. In order to obtain a license, the applicant must first have a passing score on the applicable NCLEX examination or its predecessor exam used for licensure. Currently, 39 states and U.S. territories are in the NLC, and eight have pending NLC legislation. California, Nevada, Oregon, and Connecticut are currently not part of the agreement and do not have any legislation in the works.
The NLC increases access to care while maintaining public protection at the state level. Nurses also have a broader range of career development opportunities, no longer being tied to geographic boundaries — RNs and LPNs have the opportunity to practice in dozens of other states without having to apply for licensure. This translates into fewer application fees and fewer barriers to licensure.
However, Mississippi's involvement in the Compact poses some limitations to nurses facing disciplinary action. If you lose your Mississippi nursing license due to disciplinary actions, you cannot practice in other states participating in the NLC. This greatly limits your opportunity to relocate and rebuild your career. However, even states that do not participate in the Compact can access the Compact's Nursys and discover that the Mississippi Board of Nursing has disciplined you, and, as a result, they can refuse you the privilege to practice nursing in their state. The bottom line is that losing your license or having disciplinary action on your record can greatly limit your opportunity to practice nursing in the U.S. in the future.
Requirements for Mississippi Nurses
The Mississippi Nursing Practice Law and the Mississippi Board of Nursing Administrative Code charge licensed nurses with providing nursing care in circumstances that are consistent with the nurse's education and functions or procedures are within the scope of practice. The Board uses the following requirements to define a nurse's compliance:
- The licensed nurse is educated and competent in the procedure, and their education competency must be documented initially and on an ongoing basis.
- There is a medical order for the procedure.
- The licensed nurse practices according to generally accepted standards of practice.
- All necessary resources are available.
- The facility has policies and procedures in place to address all aspects of the issue.
If the Board deems you are working outside the parameters of your education or scope of practice, you may face disciplinary action. An attorney experienced in professional license defense can help build a case in your favor to help protect your license. Contact Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Team today at (888) 535-3686 or use our online form to begin defending your license.
Types of Licensed Nurses in Mississippi
Mississippi licenses six types of nurses. All but RNs and LPNs require master's degrees.
- Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
- Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
- Nurse Practitioner (NP)
- Registered Nurse (RN)
- Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
The state currently has more than 44,000 registered nurses (RNs), nearly 15,000 licensed practical nurses (LPNs), and 4,336 advanced practice nurses, which includes 3,495 nurse practitioners, 807 nurse anesthetists, and 34 midwives. Almost all (90 percent) of nurse practitioners are in primary care.
Major Employers of Nurses in Mississippi
The Mississippi Hospital Association lists 142 medical centers across the state. Some of the largest healthcare centers in the state include the following:
- North Mississippi Health Services, a healthcare company based serving 24 counties in north Mississippi and portions of Alabama and Tennessee, and the parent company of Medical Center (NMMC), a 660-bed regional referral center in Tupelo.
- Mississippi Baptist Health Systems, the parent company for Mississippi Baptist Medical Center, a 638-bed critical access hospital in Jackson.
- Rush Health Systems, which provides administrative and management services to affiliated healthcare organizations.
- St. Dominic Health Services, the parent company of St. Dominic-Jackson Memorial Hospital, St. Catherine's Village, Inc., Community Health Services-St. Dominic, and St. Dominic Health Services Foundation.
- Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center (JHCHC), a Jackson-based health care program providing primary, preventative, and comprehensive services to the uninsured and underinsured.
- St. Luke Home Health Services, which provides home healthcare to the Southwest Mississippi Community.
- Anderson Regional Medical Center, a hospital run by John Anderson in Meridian.
- G. A. Carmichael Family Health Center, which provides care services in Madison, Yazoo, and Humphreys counties.
Why You Need a Mississippi Nursing License Defense Attorney
Mississippi Board of Nursing has an obligation to prioritize public safety at all costs. If someone has accused you of professional misconduct, the Board has the authority to take disciplinary action against you, which may include suspending or revoking your professional license. A threat to your professional license poses a serious risk to your career, reputation, and livelihood and should be taken seriously and acted on promptly. You need the advice of an attorney with experience in defending licensed professionals.
An experienced licensed defense attorney understands the legal issues that impact the nursing landscape in Mississippi. Your lawyer can investigate the complaint against you and help you prepare a strong defense from the onset, improving your chances of having the case dismissed. If your case does move through the disciplinary process, your lawyer can guide you through each step, work for reduced penalties, negotiate for the best possible outcome in a consent order, or defend you at a formal hearing before the Board. Retaining a professional license defense attorney gives you peace of mind knowing that a professional is handling the legalities of your case.
You worked long and hard to earn your nursing degree and meet the high standards of the Mississippi Board of Nursing. Don't let a complaint tarnish your future. Call attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team today. They have assisted nurses just like you in Mississippi and across the United States in defending their professional licenses. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 or use our online form to discuss your case.