Washington Licensed Practical Nurse License Defense

As a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in Washington, you play a crucial role in operating healthcare systems throughout the state. You work long hours in a physically demanding setting, and the reality is you probably aren't appreciated enough for your work. When you always try to do your best for your patients, it can be devastating to learn a complaint has been filed against you. Whether the allegations against you have merit, you must take all threats to your license seriously because the Washington State Board of Nursing will. At the Lento Law Firm, our Professional License Defense Team knows what is at stake when facing disciplinary action against your Washington LPN license. Let us help you; call us today at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.

Washington Licensed Practical Nurse Disciplinary Action Process

The Washington State Board of Nursing (formerly called the Washington Nursing Commission until July 2023) handles all things related to LPNs, including the disciplinary action process against them. This process can be lengthy and stressful. According to the Board of Nursing, the disciplinary action timeline of the case from start to finish is just shy of a year. It will take roughly 21 days to assess the initial complaint, another up to 170 days to investigate the case, and an additional 140 days for cases that are not dropped after an investigation and move forward in the disciplinary action process. If you decide to appeal your case, it will likely take closer to a year and a half or two to resolve. Remember, you don't have to go through this process alone. The Lento Law Firm attorney will walk you through every step of the process and answer any questions. In the meantime, an overview of the process is below.


Complaints against you and your Washington LPN license will be filed with the Board of Nursing and handled by its Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission (NCQAC). Anyone can submit a complaint about an LPN using the Washington State Department of Health online Complaint and Report form for nurses.

Early Remediation

When a complaint is related to a nursing practice deficiency, NCQAC may try to address the matter in an early remediation program instead of moving forward with the full disciplinary action process. Not all LPNs facing a practice deficiency allegation will be offered the early remediation program; only those who meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • NCQAC believes the deficiency can be corrected by remedial education, on-the-job training, and practice monitoring
  • The corrective action can be completed within six months
  • The LPN agrees to program participation
  • The LPN employer agrees to program participation
  • The LPN does not have a history of unprofessional conduct or a disciplinary action record
  • The LPN does not have any current charges against them
  • The LPN has not previously participated in the early remediation program or other disciplinary action or non-disciplinary action plan
  • The LPN's practice deficiency caused no or minor harm to the patient

NCQAC will close the complaint against you and your license if you agree to an early remediation action plan. But just because you agreed to the action plan does not mean the case is permanently closed. If NCQAC receives additional information about your case, it may conduct a full investigation, potentially revoke your action plan, and pursue disciplinary action. It is important to be upfront with NCQAC during early remediation. There is a delicate balance between what to disclose and what to keep to yourself. The Lento Law Firm attorney will thoroughly prepare you for your early remediation and ensure you disclose what is required while protecting your best interest.


NCQAC cannot fully investigate every complaint that it receives. Ultimately, it will only open investigations when a complaint alleges conduct above a certain severity threshold. The types of misconduct that will result in NCQAC opening an investigation are as follows:

  • Drug diversion or narcotics abuse
  • Sexual misconduct
  • Harm to a patient severe enough to warrant medical attention
  • Physical abuse
  • Negligence leading to patient death
  • Mental incapacity that harms or could harm a patient
  • Harming a patient or their personal property
  • Substance use affects the LPN's ability to practice safely
  • Patterns of LPN practice incompetence
  • Practicing beyond scope
  • A single or pattern of judgment errors
  • Practice with a lapsed LPN license for more than six months
  • Falsification of records
  • Delegating tasks that are beyond their authority to delegate
  • Failure to supervise resulting in unreasonable risk or actual harm to a patient

When NCQAC opens an investigation, it is assigned to an investigator. Investigators may or may not be nurses, and the nature of the case will impact whether your case is given to a nurse or non-nurse investigator.

In most cases, the investigator will notify you of the complaint and investigation. Still, if they feel your knowledge of the complaint could be detrimental to the investigation, they may not notify you at this juncture. That is why it is particularly important to contact the Lento Law Firm when you think a complaint will be or has been filed against you, even if you don't have proof or notification. You shouldn't let the investigator have a head start when your attorney should be working on your defense.

During the investigation, the investigator will conduct interviews and collect evidence such as medical records, personnel records, and staffing information. The investigator has 170 days to complete the investigation; they will then draft an investigative report. If, throughout the investigation, the investigator does not find evidence of misconduct, they will share this with their case management team, which will decide whether to continue the investigation or close the case. If evidence supports misconduct, you will receive a Letter of Allegations, which lists the laws and regulations you have allegedly violated.

Review of the Investigative Report

The investigator will send their report to a designated member of NCQAC. At this point, you have received the Letter of Allegations, and you can respond with your defense. You should not respond without first consulting the Lento Law Firm. Our Professional License Defense Team has crafted countless responses, just like yours, and we know how to present your case in the best possible light.

The assigned Board of Nursing member will review the investigative report and your response; they will then present a summary of your case to three other Board of Nursing members (the Panel). The Panel will hear this summary and decide to take one of the following actions:

  • If probable cause exists, send the case to the Legal Services Office recommending that the office issue a Statement of Charges or a Stipulation for Informal Discipline
  • Immediately issue a summary suspension of the LPN's license – reserved solely for cases where the LPN poses an immediate threat to public health and safety
  • Refer the LPN to the Washington Health Professional Service to participate in an alternative to discipline program for LPNs with alcohol or substance use disorders
  • Close the case because there is no clear and convincing evidence to support probable cause for disciplinary action

Formal Actions, Hearings, and Settlements

When NCQAC decides to pursue formal disciplinary action, it will send you a Statement of Charges. You have 20 days from receiving the statement of charges to request an adjudicative hearing. If you don't request a hearing, NCQAC will interpret this action as admitting guilty, and you have automatically waived your right to a hearing. When you don't respond, NCQAC can take action against your license without you having the opportunity to defend yourself and your license.

An adjudicative hearing will work like a trial; the Lento Law Firm and the Assistant Attorney General (your opposing party) will each present their case before a health law judge from the Office of Professional Standards. The hearing will include presenting evidence, calling witnesses, and arguing the case. Just like you would never go into court alone, you should not be representing yourself in an adjudicative hearing. After both sides have argued their case, the NCQAC Panel will meet to decide the case.

After a Statement of Charges has been filed, you also have the opportunity to negotiate a settlement. This can happen concurrently with preparing for an adjudicative hearing. There are two ways to go about getting a settlement. First, you can request a settlement conference; this is a meeting between you, the Lento Law Firm attorney, and the Board of Nursing staff. Essentially, you will work together to see if you can reach an agreement that works for you both. What a settlement looks like is case-dependent, but the Lento Law Firm attorney can give you an idea of realistic options based on your case.

The second method of reaching a settlement is submitting a written statement, with supporting documentation, to NCQAC. If NCQAC is open to a settlement, it will send its proposal to you for review. Regardless of which approach you take, the settlement will go to the Panel for final approval.


There are formal and informal disciplinary actions NCQAC can take against you and your Washington LPN license following a hearing or as part of a settlement agreement. The disciplinary options it may take include:

  • Entering into a Stipulation to Informal Discipline with the LPN where they don't admit to guilt of the allegation, but the LPN agrees to take specific corrective actions
  • Order probation in which the LPN's license is limited for a set period of time during which the LPN will take corrective actions
  • Order a suspension where the LPN's license is temporarily invalid until the LPN completes corrective action over a set period of time and then requests the Board of Nursing reinstate their license
  • Revoke the LPN's license for a set period of time.
  • Permanently revoke the LPN's license, a lifetime ban on practicing in the state.


If the Board of Nursing has treated you unfairly and you believe the disciplinary action it took against your Washington LPN license is inappropriate, you have the right to an appeal. If you are debating an appeal, you might want to sit and reflect on your options, but typically, your window to appeal your case will be short, and you need to take action.

An appeal is a formal court proceeding, and you should never enter the appeals process without an attorney. If you have not been represented by an attorney throughout the disciplinary process, that's okay; you can still retain the Lento Law Firm.

Grounds for Disciplinary Action Against Your Washington Licensed Practical Nurse License

Any violation of Washington LPN laws, regulations, and standards of care can result in you facing disciplinary action against your LPN license. As an LPN, you must be aware of all relevant laws and regulations and make yourself aware of any changes. If a law or regulation changes and you aren't aware of it but are noncompliant, you can still face disciplinary action. Ignorance is not accepted as a defense when violating LPN laws and regulations.

Grounds for disciplinary action can range from administrative to causing serious harm or death to a patient. Conduct that can result in disciplinary action includes, but is not limited to:

  • Failure to comply with documentation or reporting requirements
  • Failure to appropriately assess and evaluate patients
  • Failure to provide care to patients as medically necessary
  • Failure to properly administer medication
  • Practicing beyond the scope of LPN practice
  • Delegating tasks to an unqualified person
  • Failure to supervise personnel after delegating a nursing task
  • Writing prescriptions without legal authority
  • Abusing or contributing to the abuse of a patient
  • Performing procedures without the required knowledge or education to do so
  • Diversion of medication or supplies
  • Abandoning a patient by failing to transfer responsibilities to another LPN or appropriate medical professional
  • Practicing while impaired by drugs, alcohol, or a mental or physical condition
  • Conviction of physical or sexual abuse (regardless of if the crime occurred in a work setting)
  • Failure to report mandatory violations to the Board of Nursing (such as an LPN practicing without a license, patient abuse, incidents that create serious harm to a patient, substance abuse by a fellow health professional, etc.)

Contact the Lento Law Firm immediately if you are being accused of any of these offenses or others. Our Professional License Defense Team has worked on all types of LPN misconduct cases – there is no violation we haven't seen.

Retain the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Today

When your Washington LPN license is on the line, you need someone to fight tirelessly for you. When you retain the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team, we will do everything in our power to ensure you keep your LPN license, livelihood, and reputation. Call us today at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.


Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are committed to answering your questions about Physician License Defense, Nursing License Defense, Pharmacist License Defense, Psychologist and Psychiatrist License Defense, Dental License Defense, Chiropractic License Defense, Real Estate License Defense, Professional Counseling License Defense, and Other Professional Licenses law issues nationwide.
The Lento Law Firm will gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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