Being a certified nursing assistant (CNA), referred to in Pennsylvania as a nursing aide, is an important and honorable profession. You put in hours of educational courses and training to earn your certification. Facing a disciplinary charge against your CNA certification in Pennsylvania can be extremely stressful and angering. Your certification is your income and livelihood; you cannot afford to take a threat to your certification lightly. In Pennsylvania, potential abuse and neglect are taken extremely seriously. Pennsylvania's Department of Health thoroughly investigates over 300 allegations against CNAs for abuse, neglect, and misappropriation of resident property each month.
Rules and Regulations for Certified Nursing Assistants
Like many other certified nursing assistants, you care for particularly vulnerable patients, such as the elderly or those in long-term care facilities. You may be working in a hospital or caring for some of the 80,000 Pennsylvanians living in a nursing home.
Because you are working with vulnerable populations, the state has a variety of laws and regulations in place to protect the patients in nursing homes and healthcare facilities, the patients who are in your care. For example, nursing homes in Pennsylvania are obligated to ensure their CNAs have no substantial findings of abuse, neglect, or misappropriation of resident property. Additionally, your employer is required to ensure you have met all training and evaluation requirements and that you remain in good standing on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Nurse Aide Registry.
Whether you have intentionally or unintentionally acted or are alleged to have acted in a way that results in disciplinary proceedings, you must take the allegations seriously. You should never enter into disciplinary proceedings alone, and the Lento Law Firm can assist you in navigating the process from the complaint to the best possible resolution.
What Do Pennsylvania Certified Nursing Assistant Disciplinary Charges Mean?
It is important to understand what your disciplinary charges mean before taking any action. Disciplinary charges are allegations of misconduct; essentially, someone has claimed you have done something inappropriate or against rules or regulations in your work as a CNA. Facing disciplinary charges does not mean you are automatically found guilty of misconduct. Disciplinary proceedings are similar to court in that you can present your arguments and demonstrate why the allegations against you are false or explain why punishment may not be appropriate in your case. Disciplinary officials should never assume you are guilty before conducting a full investigation and hearing your side of the story. To ensure you tell your story in the best way and follow all procedural requirements, you need the help of the Lento Law Firm.
Valuing Your Nursing Assistant Certification
To ensure the best outcome in your case, you need to highly value your nursing assistant certification. You worked hard to earn this certification; you and your family and friends should be proud of this achievement. You have demonstrated your value as a healthcare worker through your continued employment. Disciplinary charges may seem like a pain to defend, and you might think that a baseless charge might go away on its own; ignoring or not taking these charges seriously will be detrimental to your career. You cannot afford to lose your financial stability, personal pride, or career by not employing the Lento Law Firm to create a strategic and effective defense to save your certification.
What Offenses or Allegations Might Put Your Nursing Assistance Certification at Risk?
There are three main types of allegations that will put your certification at risk, (1) abuse; (2) neglect; and (3) misappropriation of resident/patient property. The Pennsylvania Department of Health takes all three allegations extremely seriously and will investigate any type of allegation thoroughly.
Abuse allegations generally refer to actions that could harm a patient, threatening their safety, health, or well-being. We often think of abuse as physical abuse, such as hitting, becoming violent with a patient, or sexual assault.
Abuse can also include mental or emotional abuse, of which there many types. Emotional abuse may come in the form of verbal insults or belittling the patient by consistently using derogatory language or insults that cause the patient emotional distress. Another type of emotional abuse includes mocking or yelling at the patient for their appearance, behavior, or physical or mental state/condition. Treating a patient in this manner can cause humiliation and emotional damage.
Emotional abuse can also occur if their CNA manipulates or gaslights the patient causing them to doubt their own judgment or mental state and feel confusion and emotional instability.
Another form of common emotional abuse is intimidation and threats. This type of abuse can include intimidating behaviors like making threatening statements, yelling, or using aggressive body language, creating feelings of fear for the patient. The CNA may also threaten to or actually withhold physical or emotional care. This can make patients feel controlled, afraid, abandoned, undervalued, unimportant, and emotionally distressed.
When a CNA has neglected a patient, it means they have failed to provide adequate care, attention, or assistance to the patient, which has caused the patient harm or threatens their safety. There are many forms of neglect a patient can suffer. A CNA can fail to provide essential care by failing to meet a patient's basic needs, such as meeting grooming, bathing, and hygiene-related needs.
Neglect can also occur if a health issue occurs after a CNA fails to administer medications, fails to do so in a timely or fails to properly monitor a patient after administering the medication. Other types of medical neglect can be not realizing or reporting changes in a patient's health condition or delaying seeking immediate medical attention for the patient when appropriate.
CNAs should be aware that failing to properly hydrate and feed a patient is also considered neglect, particularly when it results in malnutrition, dehydration, or weight loss. Although less common, CNAs may also face allegations of environmental neglect if they do not maintain a safe and clean environment for their patient. This can include neglecting to deal with hazards or maintaining cleanliness in the patients, room, bedding, or clothing.
Lastly, a CNA can socially and emotionally neglect their patient. This occurs when the CNA fails to provide social interaction, stimulation, or emotional support. Patients suffering from social and emotional neglect often feel lonely, isolated, or depressed. While this seems like a less serious allegation, all neglect allegations will be treated with equal severity and need to be taken equally seriously.
Misappropriation of Patient Property
Misappropriation of patient property refers to situations in which a CNA has inappropriately taken or used items or assets belonging to a patient under their care. This could happen by deceit or exploiting the patient's vulnerability or lack of mental clarity to manipulate them into giving away their possessions or assets. While misappropriation doesn't fall directly under harming a patient's physical or mental health from a strict healthcare perspective, the misappropriation of property is a serious ethical violation and potentially a legal issue.
The most common misappropriation of patient property is the theft of items such as jewelry, electronics, other valuables, or money. Withholding a patient's property, including not returning the item or withholding it from their use, is also considered misappropriation of property.
Other types of misappropriation of property include unauthorized use of patient property or fraudulent use of patient property. With unauthorized use of patient property, a CNA would use a patient's credit card, personal identification, or personal identifying information without the patient's approval. This goes hand in hand with fraudulent activities like forging a patient's signature or altering financial documents for their personal gain.
Pennsylvania Department of Health Certified Nursing Assistant Disciplinary Proceedings
The Pennsylvania Department of Health is the governing body for your nursing assistant certification. In Pennsylvania, disciplinary proceedings generally follow this pattern:
A complaint against you can be filed by anyone; this could be a patient, a patient's friend or family member, or a colleague or supervisor. All nursing facilities are required to report allegations of abuse, neglect, or misappropriation of resident property to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. This means if your employer has received a complaint about you of this nature, you can expect a formal complaint to be filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
When a complaint is filed against you, it will be referred to the Pennsylvania Department of Health's Division of Nursing Care Facilities (DNCF). DNCF has eight field offices throughout the state, and your case will be assigned to one of these offices based on locality.
An initial facility investigation, including a written report, will occur within five days of receipt of the complaint against you. This report will then be sent to DNCF's Central Office for further review. If this office finds that sufficient evidence exists to support the allegations against you, your case will be sent on to the Department of Health's Nurse Aide Registry Abuse Committee. This committee will then review previous documentation and conduct its own investigation. At this time, you will be able to present your side of the story, arguments, and evidence. You should never be alone in developing your strategy for presenting your case or communicating with anyone from the investigation without the guidance of your counsel at the Lento Law Firm.
If you are found guilty of the allegation against you, the Nurse Aide Registry Abuse Committee will make a notation in your file on the public Nurse Aide Registry. This notation, effectively a revocation of your certification, will prohibit future employment in a nursing care facility.
How Disciplinary Action Can Impact Your Career Short-Term and Long-Term
There are many ways your disciplinary action can affect your career in the long and short-term.
You Could Be Unable to Work in Any Pennsylvania Nursing Facility
In Pennsylvania, if you are not in good standing on the Nurse Aide Registry, your chances of employment are limited. If you have your certification revoked, you will be unable to work as a CNA entirely. When your registry status is not in good standing, you are automatically disqualified from working in a nursing facility that receives Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement, which is nearly all facilities in the state. Even worse, if you lose your certification, you are unemployable at any nursing facility in Pennsylvania.
You Can Be Disqualified for State Certification Reciprocity
Every state and the District of Columbia offers CNA reciprocity, with over 20 states throughout the country offering free CNA reciprocity. This means that if you have a nursing assistant certification in Pennsylvania, you can become certified without any additional requirements or (and potentially any additional costs) in another state and begin working almost immediately. Losing your certification can mean losing the opportunity to obtain your nursing assistant certification if you want to work as a CNA anywhere else in the country. You could lose your livelihood on a national scale by losing your certification.
Losing Your Certification Can Prohibit a Further Nursing Career
Maybe you earned your CNA to eventually become a registered nurse (RN) with higher pay and greater responsibilities. Becoming a CNA is a common stepping-stone to becoming an RN; it is so common that many schools throughout Pennsylvania, including the University of Pittsburgh and Adelphi University, offer a CNA to RN program. This program allows CNAs to enroll in RN programs without retaking unnecessary courses. The CNA to RN program can reduce the time it takes to get your RN (usually two to four years) by as much as six months. If your nursing assistant certification is revoked, it is almost, if not certainly, impossible for you to proceed with becoming an RN. Your disciplinary action will be recorded and seen by any RN program you may apply to.
You do not want to and cannot afford to limit your career growth or opportunities by losing your nursing assistant certification.
Can I Reinstate My Nursing Assistant Certification in Pennsylvania?
If you have already lost your CNA certification, you are probably interested in trying to get it back and return to work as soon as possible. Pennsylvania regulations and the Pennsylvania Department of Health do not detail how you can appeal the revocation of your certification. This is why it is particularly important to have the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team at the ready to walk you through your options. Whether this is working with the Department of Health to pursue an appeal or taking the appeal to the next step of litigation, the Lento Law Firm will fight to gain your certification and livelihood back.
Areas the Lento Law Firm Serves in Pennsylvania
Lento Law Firm will fight to make sure you remain a CNA in the state of Pennsylvania. The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team can provide defense of your nursing assistant certification anywhere in the state of Pennsylvania, in any community. Most of our clients are located in healthcare hubs throughout the state. We have extensively provided representation in the following areas:
Philadelphia is by far Pennsylvania's biggest city, with over 1.5 million residents. The city is a healthcare hub featuring the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University Hospital, and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Temple University alone The Philadelphia metropolitan area is home to over 260 nursing homes of the state's over 700 nursing homes and, subsequently, thousands of nursing home residents needing the care of CNAs.
While Pittsburgh might have a much smaller population than Philadelphia, at about 300,400 residents, its medical systems are booming. Most notably, Pittsburgh is home to the University of Pittsburg Medical Center (UPMC), which is a healthcare system of over 40 hospitals, including many in the city itself, including the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, Magee-Women's Hospital of UPMC, UPMC Mercy, UPMC Montefiore, UPMC Cancer Centers, and the system's flagship hospital UPMC Presbyterian which is ranked the top hospital in Philadelphia holding over 1,600 beds. This hospital system is the largest non-governmental employer in Pennsylvania.
Pittsburgh also houses numerous facilities within the West Penn Allegheny Health System, including Allegheny General Hospital and West Penn Hospital. Additionally, the city has numerous other hospitals and healthcare facilities, a few of which include HealthSouth Harmarville Rehabilitation Center, the Veterans Administration Pittsburgh Health System, and St. Clair Memorial Hospital.
Allentown is Pennsylvania's third-largest city, with a population of about 126,000 people. Being a CNA is one of the most common professions in Allentown, ranking as the 6th most common profession in the city. Within the city limits is Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest, the third largest in the state of Pennsylvania, with 877 beds and 46 operating rooms.
Why You Need a Licensing Defense Attorney in Pennsylvania
The Lento Law Firm's highly qualified Professional License Defense Team is a must when defending your Pennsylvania nursing assistant certification. When facing disciplinary action, the full resources of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Division of Nursing Care facilities to meticulously investigate your case. Government employees are working full-time against you, leaving no stone unturned. As professionals doing this work, day in and day out, the Division's employees know exactly how to implicate you in this disciplinary action. You cannot go into the disciplinary process blind. You need to bring your own full-time army of skilled and experienced defense counsel to fight for you and preserve your nursing assistant certification.
How a Certified Nursing Assistant Defense Attorney Helps in Pennsylvania
You might be wondering what exactly the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Team can do for you in a disciplinary action. To start, our Team will listen to you and document every aspect of your case; we want to hear your side in as much detail as possible. We will learn your case just as well as you know it. The Team then develops a variety of strategies, approaches, and options to share with you. We want you to be as involved or as handoff in your case as you want. Remember, we are here to make this process as pain-free as possible, considering the incredible stress you are under.
One significant benefit of retaining the Lento Law Firm is its experience working with the Pennsylvania Department of Health's disciplinary officials. Open and non-hostile communication with these officials is one of the best ways to prevent your defense and have your arguments truly heard. Communication and cooperation can often lead to early resolution of your case, which saves your certification faster, getting you back to work as soon as possible. If negotiations aren't possible, the Professional Defense Team will help you collect and organize any exonerating or mitigating evidence to present in your defense. In the event your certification is revoked during this process or has been prior to working with the Lento Law Firm, the Team is still here to help. Our Team is ready to fight in court to give you the best chance to reinstate your certification.
License Defense Team for Certified Nursing Assistant Charges in Pennsylvania
When your nursing assistant certification is a stake, you need the best. Retain the Lento Law Firm's renowned Professional License Defense Team to advocate for you and your hard-earned nursing assistant certification. Call us today at 888.535.3686 or contact us online.