The entire process can be stressful, frightening, and overwhelming if you face nursing license disciplinary charges in Oregon. Of course, you should be concerned if you receive notice from the Oregon State Board of Nursing of a disciplinary investigation or a formal proceeding against you. These proceedings can risk your nursing career and endanger your professional reputation. As a nurse, you are trusted with the care and lives of some of our most vulnerable community members, and a black mark against you professionally can be a serious obstacle to your career.
You don't want to risk losing everything you've worked for. You'll need to respond completely, accurately, and strategically to any notice of a disciplinary charge to ensure the best possible outcome. That's why you need the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm. Call 888.535.3686 or contact us online to schedule your consultation today.
Oregon State Board of Nursing License Proceedings
The Oregon State Nursing Board (OSBN) oversees nursing licensing in Oregon. The Board consists of nine members appointed by the governor, and they oversee licensing, disciplinary matters, and regulatory enforcement. The Oregon Nurse Practice Act also gives the board authority to write new administrative rules for nursing.
The OSBN also makes final disciplinary decisions for nurses who have violated professional conduct standards and publishes the names of every nurse it disciplines in the state. If you're facing a licensing complaint or investigation, it can have serious implications for your future nursing career. That's why you need the advice and guidance of the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team to minimize the impact on your professional career.
Oregon State Board of Nursing Licensing
The OSBN's administrative rules set forth the professional standards for nurses in Oregon and the licensing rules and scope of practice for nurses. To become licensed as a licensed practical nurse (LPN), you'll need to:
- Complete a year of training,
- Apply for licensure and
- Pass the NCLEX-PN exam.
If you fail the exam, you must wait 45 days to take it again.
RNs have more independence than LPNs, who need more clinical direction and supervision but also have more stringent licensing requirements. To become an RN, you must:
- Earn a degree from an accredited nursing program, usually a four-year baccalaureate degree,
- Pass the NCLEX-PN exam, and
- Submit an application to the OSBN.
You'll also need to pass a criminal background check. For advanced practice, you may need additional training or a master's or doctorate.
Oregon State Board of Nursing Rules and Standards
As a licensed nurse in Oregon, you'll need to maintain professional standards according to the administrative rules set by the OSBN. Some of the most common violations include:
- Practicing with an expired license,
- Falsifying records or documents,
- Failing to maintain records to accurately reflect the patient's nursing care and course of treatment,
- Criminal arrests or convictions,
- Poor patient care,
- Failing to care for a patient who needs immediate nursing care or abandoning a patient without making arrangements for a continuity of care,
- Failure to complete continuing education requirements,
- Failure to pay the licensing fee,
- Lying, deceit, or dishonesty,
- Sexual misconduct or any behavior a reasonable person would interpret as sexual,
- Engaging in sexual conduct with a patient or resident, or a family member of a patient or resident without a preexisting relationship,
- Alcohol abuse or substance abuse,
- Violating professional boundaries or engaging in a relationship with a patient, family member of a patient, resident, or family member of a resident,
- A pattern of not maintaining minimally acceptable standards of prevailing nursing practice,
- Causing physical or emotional pain to a patient intentionally or negligently,
- DUI or DWI charges,
- Violating the scope of licensing,
- Removing a patient life support system without medical and legal authorization,
- Falsifying a healthcare record when obtaining, possessing, or administering a controlled substance, including making a materially incorrect statement, an incorrect statement, or an unintelligible entry in a healthcare record,
- Not taking action to safeguard a patient's welfare,
- Failing to follow employer policies and procedures intended to safeguard the welfare of patients and
- Not taking action to protect a patient who is at risk from an incompetent healthcare professional or practice,
- Failing to report an incompetent healthcare professional or facility to the licensing authorities that puts a patient's safety or welfare at risk,
- Nursing malpractice,
- Failure to report a nurse whose work history includes conduct or actions that may result in an adverse patient outcome,
- Working outside the scope of licensing or taking on patient care responsibilities that a nurse lacks the training or education to perform or for which the nurse hasn't maintained their nursing competence,
- Failing to supervise someone who is performing delegated nursing functions,
- Delegating nursing services that need nursing judgment to someone who isn't authorized,
- Stealing property, personal possessions, or money from a patient, co-worker, employer, or member of the public,
- Asking for payment for services not performed,
- Taking a narcotic or controlled substance, equipment, supplies, or medical records from any health care facility without authorization,
- Engaging in a pattern of using alcohol or drugs or being clearly under the influence to the extent that nursing judgment may be impaired while on duty,
- Using, administering, possessing, or obtaining any controlled substance, illegal drug, or narcotic in violation of state or federal criminal law,
- Administering or providing a controlled substance or prescription medication for any reason other than a research or therapeutic purpose,
- Engaging in fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation while taking a licensing exam or on an initial or renewal application for a license,
- Impersonating a nurse or allowing someone else to use another's nursing license for any reason,
- Making untruthful or misleading statements while advertising the practice of nursing,
- Failing to notify the OSBN within ten days of a criminal charge likely to affect patient safety,
- Failing to notify the OSBN of a felony conviction within ten days of conviction and
- Practicing in any way that gives the OSBN reasonable cause to believe it may harm the health of the public or a patient.
If you're facing an allegation of violating professional licensing standards, or if you're facing an investigation into a potential violation, you need legal advice and guidance as soon as possible. Don't lose your professional future. The experienced Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm can help.
Your Oregon Nursing License is Valuable
You should vigorously defend any allegation that could affect your nursing license. You went through years of education and training to get to this point, including passing the NCLEX-PN and building up your professional reputation. A public censure, or even a private one, can affect your reputation with colleagues and patients, and you could find it challenging to get another job.
Most local criminal lawyers are unlikely to understand the value of your professional license or the damage a disciplinary action could do to your career. They're also unlikely to understand the nuance and details of OSBN administrative rules or the Oregon Nurse Practice Act. To protect your license through an investigation or disciplinary proceeding, you need the skilled professionals from the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm. They've helped professionals like you across the country defend themselves from allegations, negotiate resolutions, and continue their nursing careers.
Telling Your Side of the Story to Oregon Nursing Officials
You have one of the most challenging jobs as a nurse, and the OSBN understands this. You care for patients who may already be vulnerable and scared and their families. Patients facing illness or disability may not know or understand your nursing standards or the standards of care. The disciplinary officials and investigators see how committed, competent, and compassionate nurses can be unfairly implicated or accused by families, nurses, and peers. In many cases, disciplinary investigators are looking for an explanation from you and are eager and willing to hear it. However, you must still be careful and strategic in explaining yourself to the OSBN or its investigators. That's why you need an experienced attorney-advisor from the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm to help you tell your side of the story.
Increased Stakes of Oregon Nursing License Charges
In some cases, disciplinary action against you in one state can affect you in others. In 1999, several states established the Nurse Licensure Compact. The compact allows nurses licensed in one state to work under that license in another participating state. As of 2023, 40 states participate in the compact or have passed legislation allowing it. Proponents state that it helps alleviate nursing shortages by allowing nurses to work across state lines. States participating in the compact will report your status to the compact's national database, reflecting if your nursing license is suspended or revoked.
Oregon does not participate in the Nurse Licensure Compact. State nursing officials state that it would depress salaries for nurses in Oregon and reduce the effectiveness of the OSBN in controlling licensing and discipline among Oregon nurses. They also argue the compact could make enforcing the state's high professional nursing standards challenging. State legislators have introduced a proposed law adopting the compact yearly over the last several years. Although the legislation has yet to pass in Oregon, it may bring even higher stakes to a potential OSBN disciplinary action in the future.
Oregon State Board of Nursing Complaints
Under the OSBN disciplinary and investigations procedures, any person or entity can file a complaint anonymously against a nurse or nursing assistant online using the organization's complaint form. Under Oregon law, all complaint information must remain confidential. This means that the OSBN will not inform you who made the complaint. While the point is to ensure that licensees and patients can make complaints without fear of retaliation, it can also encourage adversely motivated complaints.
The OSBN must investigate and evaluate any complaint it receives for possible Nursing Practice Act violations. That's why if you receive a notice of a complaint and investigation, you should contact the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team immediately. Our experienced team may be able to end a complaint with additional, contextual, or exonerating evidence before an investigation begins.
Oregon State Board of Nursing Investigations
If the OSBN begins an investigation, they will gather documentation and likely interview witnesses. The evidence they gather may include:
- Incident reports,
- Witness statements,
- Police reports,
- Personnel records,
- Medical records and
- Court records.
The investigator may also meet with you by phone or in person. This investigative interview is supposed to be informal and confidential, but the purpose is to gather additional facts related to the incident or complaint. The OSBN often presents this interview as an opportunity to meet with the board staff and tell your side of the story confidentially, with only investigative staff present. However, you do have the right to have an attorney with you who is representing you in the OSBN investigation. After the investigator completes their investigation, they will provide a confidential Investigator Report for the OSBN board members, compiling all the information they've gathered.
The Oregon State Board of Nursing comprises nine-panel members appointed by the governor. The Board has five in-person and seven virtual meetings every year. At each meeting, the Board will review each complaint and its accompanying Investigator Report to determine if the nurse has violated the Nurse Practice Act. If the OSBN believes no violation occurred, they will dismiss the case.
The investigative interview can be an excellent opportunity to present your side of the story and give context to a complaint. However, with so much on the line for you professionally, you need an attorney from the Lento Law Firm's national Professional License Defense Team to protect your rights and ensure that you present the best possible defense.
Oregon State Board of Nursing Contested Case Hearings
If the OSBN determines that a violation of the Nurse Practice Act occurred, it must decide how to discipline the infraction. The Board will first issue a Notice of Proposed Disciplinary Action. You'll have from the date of the notice until the time limit noted in the notice to request a contested case hearing. You must make this request in writing. If you don't request a hearing within the time allowed, the Board will hear the case at its next meeting, issue a Final Order by Default, and then the board-proposed discipline will go into effect.
If you request a hearing in writing within the allowed timeframe, the Board notifies the Oregon Office of Administrative Hearings. Your case will be heard by an administrative law judge (ALJ) in a "contested case hearing." You can and should bring an attorney to represent you at the hearing. During the hearing, the ALJ will hear the evidence in the complaint and then issue a Proposed Order. The OSBN will vote on whether to accept the ALJ order and then issue a Final Order.
If you don't agree with the Final Order from the OSBN, you can appeal to the Oregon Court of Appeals and the Oregon Supreme Court if necessary. It's important to understand that appeals will not allow you to introduce new evidence. The appellate courts will decide based on the record created during the investigation, the initial OSBN hearing, and the ALJ hearing. You will only have a basis for appeal if the OSBN or ALJ made a mistake in interpreting the law or a procedural error. That's why hiring the Professional License Defense Team from the Lento Law Firm is so important as soon as possible. From the initial hearing, we can ensure we map out the right strategy to present your best defense. If you wait until the appeals process, it may be too late.
Penalties the Oregon State Board of Nursing Can Impose
There are many potential sanctions the OSBN may propose, depending on the severity of the offense:
- Dismissal: The OSBN can dismiss your case with a private letter of concern, creating no public record and no formal discipline.
- Reprimand: The OSBN can formally notify you that you have violated a specific board statute or rule.
- Suspension: The OSBN can suspend your license for a set period, preventing you from practicing nursing or performing CNA-authorized duties during that period.
- Revocation: The Board can revoke your license or certificate for at least three years.
- Voluntary Surrender: You can agree to surrender your license or certificate for at least three years. This is often done by consent agreement.
- Denial: The Board may also vote not to issue a certificate or license to a nursing applicant.
- Civil Penalty: The OSBN can fine violators a civil penalty of up to $5,000.
Oregon State Board of Nursing Consent Agreements
The OSBN can resolve complaints through a consent agreement as part of the disciplinary process. In some cases, if the Board believes that the best outcome is for a nurse to undergo additional professional education, counseling, alcohol or drug treatment, or testing, the parties can agree to a consent agreement. The parties can also include additional license restrictions to ensure you can safely practice nursing.
A consent agreement can avoid a formal hearing and discipline, making the process less onerous. However, you should never enter into a consent agreement with the OSBN without advice from the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team. You must ensure that the consent agreement sets you up for success rather than failure with a professional legal review.
Why It's Important to Hire a Nursing License Defense Attorney in Oregon
When facing an investigation or complaint from the Oregon State Nursing Board, it's important to take the action seriously and get the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm involved as soon as possible. The OSBN spends a great deal of time and resources investigating and disciplining nurses. They have nearly unlimited resources to pursue a complaint against you and to investigate you extensively. With the full resources of the state organization against you, you need to level the playing field as much as possible.
The OSBN also has a lower bar to "prove" allegations against you. You may be familiar with the standard of proof used in criminal trials when the state must prove allegations against the defendant "beyond all reasonable doubt." In many cases, a criminal defense attorney can avoid a client's conviction simply by raising doubt about the state's case, evidence, or witnesses. The standard of proof is not that high in OSBN investigations or hearings. In disciplinary proceedings and hearings, the OSBN must only prove the allegations against you by a preponderance of the evidence. That means that the evidence against you makes it more likely than not that the allegations are true. Think of the "preponderance of the evidence" as a 50/50 standard. If the OSBN's evidence makes it 51% more likely the allegations are true, compared to the 49% raised by your defense, the OSBD will find the complaint against you to be founded. Without an experienced defense team, the odds are stacked against you.
The Lento Law Firm's experienced Professional License Defense Team can help by opening lines of communication with the OSBN investigative team as early as possible. In some cases, our early involvement can mean an early dismissal if we can fully discuss your side of the complaint, explaining the circumstances and the context to the OSBN. Early dismissal or abandonment of the complaint is the best possible outcome for you and your nursing career.
Even if an early dismissal through negotiation isn't possible, our team can still roll into action, helping you:
- Identify and acquire exonerating or mitigating evidence,
- Organizing and strategizing your evidence into the best possible legal and factual defense,
- Strategically answer the OSBN's notice of hearing with your defense,
- Attend hearings to cross-examine witnesses, question evidence, and challenge incriminating evidence or testimony,
- If necessary, challenge the action with an appeal to an administrative law judge or other appellate body.
License Defense Team for Oregon Nursing Charges
If you're an Oregon registered nurse, licensed professional nurse, nurse midwife, advanced practice nurse or clinical nurse specialist, certified nurse anesthesiologist, or other licensed professional facing an investigation from the OSBN, you need the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team on your side. They've helped many professionals nationwide through licensing investigations and disciplinary actions, and they can help you, too. Call 888.535.3686 or contact us online today.