Being a certified nursing assistant (CNA), also referred to as a nursing aide in South Carolina, is a demanding but important career. As a certified nursing assistant, you worked so hard to get here. In South Carolina, you are required to get a minimum of 100 hours of training, including classroom instruction, skills practicums, and a clinical rotation in a nursing home supervised by an approved registered nurse. You should be proud of your certification. Because of all the work you have dedicated to your certification, facing a certified nursing assistant disciplinary charge is upsetting. You may have a variety of emotions, including anger, fear, and confusion.
Certified nursing assistant disciplinary proceedings are serious. Your job is to offer care, support, and kindness to all your patients, and the state of South Carolina takes allegations that you have acted otherwise very seriously. Your nursing assistant certification is your livelihood; it is how you support yourself and your family, so every threat to your certificate must be strongly defended. You need the best defense if your South Carolina nursing assistant certification is on the line; The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team is here for you.
What Do South Carolina Certified Nursing Assistant Disciplinary Charges Mean?
Learning that a disciplinary charge has been brought against you can be scary and overwhelming. It is important to understand what the charges mean and not jump to conclusions. Disciplinary charges are allegations brought against you, claiming that you have participated in some action that violates your ethical and professional obligations to a patient or patients under your care. Just because an allegation has been made against you does not mean the allegation is true or that you are automatically considered guilty of these allegations.
Even if you know you have done nothing wrong or the full story isn't reflected in the disciplinary charges, you can't just assume the charges will go away. You need to take all disciplinary actions against you very seriously. Ignoring these charges can result in a loss of your nursing assistant certification. You need to take action to support your innocence or share your side of any incidents that have led to the disciplinary action at hand. While you need to respond to disciplinary charges against you, you should never go into the process alone. To ensure you meet all timeline and procedural requirements in responding to the charges against you, you need the help of the Lento Law Firm. We are well-versed in the procedural and strategic steps needed to protect your nursing assistant certification in South Carolina.
South Carolina Certified Nursing Assistant Disciplinary Proceedings
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) oversees all things related to the over 17,000 certified nursing assistants in South Carolina. The Department of Health and Environmental Control develops the curriculum and training for certified nursing assistants and issuance of exams and certifications. If a disciplinary action has been brought against you, SCDHEC's Bureau of Health Facilities Licensing will be the investigating body. Generally, if a disciplinary action has been filed against you as a certified nursing assistant, SCDEHC will follow the process detailed below.
A disciplinary action brought against you will start with a complaint. Unfortunately, there are no restrictions on who can file a complaint against you. Complaints often come either from within your organization, such as a colleague or supervisor, or externally from a patient or a patient's family or friend.
A complaint can be made in two ways. The first is a formal document, the Certified Nursing Assistant Abuse Complaint Form, filed online with SCDHEC's Bureau of Health Facilities Licensing. The second way to file a complaint is by calling the Bureau of Health Facilities Licensing Office or the Home Health Agencies Hotline over the phone.
SCDHEC is responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of South Carolina's most vulnerable populations; therefore, they will investigate all complaints which are submitted to their office. Once receiving a complaint, SCDHEC will open an investigation where it will gather relevant information. This can include contacting and interviewing those involved or collecting evidence or documentation related to any incidences in question. The investigation gives SCDHEC the information it needs to decide if there is any merit to the complaint. If SCDHEC finds that the complaint is baseless, the investigation will end, and no further action will be taken.
Notice of the Investigation
If SCDHEC determines there is some merit to the allegations against you, it will send you a notice to tell you about the investigation. This notice is in writing and comes in the mail; if you suspect or are already aware that a complaint has been filed against you, it is important you keep an eye out for this letter coming to you in the mail.
The letter will detail the allegations against you and give you the opportunity and timelines for responding. The information in this letter may be confusing. When responding to the allegations against you, you will need to comply with specific deadlines and procedures, and understanding the process can be difficult. You might feel overwhelmed and like you aren't sure where to start or that you don't have enough time to respond to your allegation thoroughly. Even small violations of procedural or timeline aspects of your response can have serious consequences, including losing your certification. When your certification is at risk, you need to ensure compliance with the rules, and the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team can navigate these complexities with you.
When fighting the allegations against you, you can request SCDHEC schedule a hearing. SCDHEC will schedule hearings in cases where the evidence supports the claim against you because it gives you the opportunity to present your case. At a hearing, you give your argument and bring in evidence that discredits the allegations against you. A hearing is similar to being in court; like in court, you need to present your case and evidence strategically. Just as you would never go into court without your attorney, you should never go into a hearing without an attorney, and the Lento Law Firm is here to provide your best defense.
Once your hearing is completed, SCDHEC's Division of Health Licensing will reassess your case, taking into consideration all of the arguments and evidence you presented at the hearing. There are a variety of disciplinary actions SCDHEC can take in your case. If SCDHEC's Division of Health Licensing ultimately finds that there was no wrongdoing on your part, they may take no further action. If SCDHEC's Division of Health Licensing determines wrongdoing on your part, it will pursue disciplinary action. The disciplinary action will vary depending on the severity and the nature of the incident. Common disciplinary actions include:
- You could receive a warning or reprimand.
- You could be placed on probation which may come with certain conditions, such as working while supervised for a set period of time or a set number of hours.
- Your nursing assistant certification can be suspended for either a set length of time or until you complete additional requirements.
- Your nursing assistant certification can be revoked.
If SCDHEC's Division of Health Licensing chooses a course of disciplinary action that you disagree with or feel is not proportionate to the wrongdoing at issue in your case, you can appeal the decision. Appeals may require legal action, and therefore, you will need assistance from the Lento Law Firm. You cannot afford to take any legal action on your own. The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team has extensive experience in the appeals process.
Disciplinary Action Can Impact Your Career
Disciplinary actions can have short-term and long-term impacts on your career prospects. Losing your nursing assistant certification in South Carolina can prohibit you from working throughout the country or moving forward in the healthcare field.
You Can Be Disqualified for State Nursing Assistant Certification Reciprocity
Reciprocity is a system that allows you to use your South Carolina nursing assistant certification to become certified in another state without any additional educational or training requirements. Every state in the country and the District of Columbia offers certified nursing assistant reciprocity. More than 20 states even offer reciprocity for free, which means you are not required to pay any additional fees for your nursing assistant certification in that state. When you get reciprocity, you can immediately begin working in the state that has granted you reciprocity. But if you lose your South Carolina nursing assistant certification, you will not only lose your ability to work in South Carolina, but it will prohibit you from gaining reciprocity and working as a CNA in any state. Regardless of where you live in the country, losing your certification will follow you and eliminate important career opportunities.
Losing Your Nursing Assistant Certification Prohibits Further Nursing Career Options
Losing your nursing assistant certification can disqualify you from progressing your career in the nursing field. For example, CNAs often get their certification as a stepping stone to becoming a registered nurse (RN). Being an RN has benefits that are not afforded to CNAs, including more work responsibilities and higher pay.
As a CNA, you can become an RN through a CNA-to-RN bridge program. CNA to RN bridge programs allow you to apply the training you have taken to become a CNA to your RN program, skipping over some of the basic courses. The benefits of a CNA to RN bridge program include reducing your tuition costs since you won't need to take as many courses and reducing the time it takes to complete your RN program. The CNA to RN bridge program can take as much as six months off your RN program. To participate in a CNA to RN bridge program, you are required to have an active nursing assistant certification in good standing.
Losing your certification means you are losing the possibility of furthering your career and increasing your earning potential. This is just another reason why you need to be careful in responding to any disciplinary charges brought against you. Failing to respond appropriately or present your best defense can cost you a lot.
Offenses That May Put Your South Carolina Nursing Assistant Certification at Risk
The offenses that threaten your South Carolina nursing assistant certification fall into three buckets: (1) abuse, (2) neglect, and misappropriation of patient property. While some offenses may seem more serious than others, SCDHEC will thoroughly investigate all complaints it receives and treat them all very seriously. SCDHEC is responsible for protecting the vulnerable populations in your care and does not tolerate any potential harm to these patients.
Abuse of a patient by a CNA involves actions that harm the patient or threaten their safety and well-being. There is more than one type of abuse, although the abuse we most often think of is physical abuse. The most common types of physical abuse are violence or sexual assault. Another type of abuse is emotional abuse which can involve various forms of mental and emotional mistreatment. Verbal insults or using derogatory language that belittles a patient and causes emotional distress is one form of emotional abuse.
This type of abuse can also take the form of mocking or yelling at the patient based on appearance, behavior, or physical or mental condition. Manipulation is also a form of emotional abuse; manipulating a patient includes saying or doing things that make the patient doubt their judgment or mental state, which can cause confusion and emotional instability. Intimidation and threats are also common forms of emotional abuse patients face. All of these types of abuse are extremely damaging to patients and can make patients feel scared, controlled, abandoned, and helpless.
Neglecting a patient is a serious violation of your ethical and professional duties. Neglecting your patient means you have failed to provide your patient with adequate care, attention, or assistance. Neglect can pose a threat to the patient's health and safety. Neglect can take many forms, such as failing to meet a patient's basic hygiene needs.
Neglect may also involve failing to properly monitor a patient or failing to recognize and report changes in a patient's condition. Not properly hydrating or feeding a patient is also a form of neglect and can result in physical harm to the patient, such as dehydration, malnutrition, and weight loss. Failing to maintain a safe and clean environment for a patient may also be considered neglect.
Misappropriation of Patient Property
Misappropriation of patient property is when property or assets belonging to are taken without their consent. This can be basic theft, such as stealing money, jewelry, or other possessions. Misappropriation of property can also include unauthorized use of a patient's credit card, personal identification, or identity theft. Forging a patient's signature or altering financial or legal documents also constitutes misappropriation. While misappropriation of patient property doesn't physically harm your patient, SCDHEC's Division of Health Licensing takes allegations of this nature incredibly seriously and will not hesitate to revoke your nursing assistant certification if you are found guilty of these allegations.
Areas the Lento Law Firm Serves in South Carolina
The Lento Law Firm and its Professional License Defense Team can serve certified nursing assistants all throughout the state of South Carolina. While we can help you anywhere in the state, the majority of our clients live in South Carolina's more populated areas with large healthcare hubs.
Located in the center of South Carolina, the city of Columbia has a population of over 755,000 residents. Columbia employs the highest number of CNAs in the state, with approximately 3,650 CNAs. Columbia houses South Carolina's third largest hospital, Prisma Health Richland Hospital, which has 641 beds. This hospital is affiliated with the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and serves over 225,000 patients each year. Columbia is also home to South Carolina's fourth largest hospital, Lexington Medical Center, which is known for its expertise in occupational health, cardiovascular health, and Alzheimer's care. In addition to its robust hospital system, Columbia has 28 nursing home facilities in the city.
The coastal Charleston-North Charleston metropolitan area is one of the fastest-growing areas in the United States. The city of Charleston is the largest city in South Carolina and is home to over 150,000 residents; North Charleston has a population of around 118,000 residents. The Charleston-North Charleston area houses a variety of healthcare facilities, including the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Medical System. This medical system includes MUSC Health-University Medical Center, a 709-bed teaching hospital, as well as MUSC Health Rehabilitation Hospital and MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital. In addition to the MUSC Health System, the Charleston area has a variety of other hospitals and medical centers, such as Roper Hospital, the Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and East Cooper Medical Center. CNAs are also employed in the Charleston area's roughly 20 nursing homes.
Why You Need a Licensing Defense Attorney in South Carolina
Challenging disciplinary actions against you and your nursing assistant certification is stressful. It is essential to have the support of the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team; our years of experience allow us to guide you through the disciplinary process with ease. When SCDHEC receives a complaint against you, it will leave no stone unturned in its investigation. SCDHEC staff are experts in the disciplinary process and building a case against you. Without experts on your side, you cannot present the best defense in protecting your nursing assistant certification.
How a Certified Nursing Assistant Defense Attorney Helps in Tennessee
You may be wondering what exactly the Lento Law Firm's Professional Defense Team can do to help you as you face disciplinary charges. First, you will meet with our Team. During this meeting, we want to hear your side of the story and learn every detail of your case and how the complaint against you came to be filed. We want to learn the ins and outs of your case so we can provide you with the best possible representation and give you the best chance of getting a favorable outcome. Once we have all the background information we need, we will develop strategies, collect evidence and build arguments for you to present in your defense.
Having the Lento Law Firm in your corner is an important asset to your defense; our experience working with SCDHEC will benefit your case. Our Team has experience in open and non-hostile communication with the agency. Our positive relationship with the agency allows us to push for an early resolution in your case. With numerous years of experience negotiating with government agencies, we are often able to come to a resolution in which our clients retain their nursing assistant certifications. In cases where early resolution isn't possible, our Professional License Defense Team will prepare you for the next steps in your case. This includes preparing you for your hearing by formulating your argument, helping you collect evidence in support of your case, and practicing the presentation of your argument.
If you have already lost your nursing assistant certification, it isn't too late for the Lento Law Firm to help. The Lento Law Firm is experienced in appealing nursing assistant certification revocations. We are here to fight for you in the legal appeals process. Above all, our Team is here to make defending yourself against disciplinary charges as painless as possible during this stressful time.
Retaining the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team
Your nursing assistant certification is important, and you must vigorously defend your certification against any threats. For the best possible defense of your certification, you need to retain the Lento Law Firm's experienced Professional License Defense Team. We are here to fight for you, your nursing assistant certification, and your future. Call us today at 888.535.3686 or contact us online.