Attorney Joseph Lento Can Help If Your Washington Nurse's License Is in Jeopardy
Any nurse would naturally have grave concerns when facing a Washington Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission disciplinary proceeding. License disciplinary proceedings threaten a professional's practice, job, and career. That threat is plenty enough for a nurse facing Washington State licensing proceedings to feel not just concern but real stress over the matter. License disciplinary proceedings are especially problematic for nurses whose conduct must reflect keen concern for their patient's health and safety.
Wise nurses, though, do more than have concern over Washington Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission disciplinary charges. Wise nurses retain highly qualified professional license defense counsel. Don't retain a local criminal defense lawyer who is unfamiliar with administrative license hearings. Instead, retain the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team and national license defense attorney Joseph D. Lento for your best outcome to Washington nursing license misconduct charges. Call 888.535.3686 or go online now for the best Professional License Defense Team available in Washington.
Washington Nursing Commission License Proceedings
Under Revised Code of Washington Section 18.79.110, Washington's Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission has assumed the regulatory powers, policies, and duties of the former Washington State Board of Nursing. Revised Code of Washington Section 18.79.120 incorporates the state's Uniform Disciplinary Act provisions for the discipline of Washington nurses. The Uniform Disciplinary Act's Section 18.130.050 authorizes the Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission to adopt disciplinary standards and to grant, deny, suspend, or revoke licenses under those standards. Section 18.130.080 specifically authorizes discipline for unprofessional conduct.
Nurses in Washington State face a substantial risk of discipline, like nurses in other states. The FBI's Operation Nightingale named thousands of licensed nurses nationwide who allegedly presented fraudulent nursing credentials for licensure. Press reports indicate those included fifteen Washington nurses who suffered license discipline. Retain the Lento Law Firm's premier Professional License Defense Team for your strategic and effective defense if you are among those Washington nurses with allegedly suspect educational credentials or if you are among the dozens of other nurses whom the Washington Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission annually notifies of disciplinary charges.
Washington Nursing Commission Rules and Standards
Your Washington nursing license disciplinary charges are under state laws, rules, and regulations. Washington Administrative Code Section 246-840-700 lists the positive standards adopted by the predecessor to the Washington Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission that a nurse licensed in the state must meet to obtain and retain a valid nursing license. For your effective defense of disciplinary charges, retain a highly qualified professional license defense attorney team with substantial skill and experience in those rules and standards. The Washington nursing standards under Section 246-840-700 include:
- communicating significant changes in the patient's status to appropriate members of the health care team;
- documenting on essential client records the nursing care given and the patient's response to that care;
- possessing and exercising the requisite knowledge and understanding of the laws and rules regulating nursing;
- functioning within the legal scope of nursing practice;
- being responsible and accountable for practice based upon and limited to the scope of education, demonstrated competence, and nursing experience consistent with the scope of practice;
- obtaining instruction, supervision, and consultation as necessary before implementing new or unfamiliar techniques or procedures which are in their scope of practice;
- maintaining current knowledge in their field of practice; and
- respecting patient rights to privacy by protecting confidential information and not using confidential healthcare information for other than legitimate patient care purposes.
Valuing Your Washington Commission Nursing License
To ensure that you devote the appropriate time, attention, and resources to your defense of Washington Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission charges, you should appreciate the substantial value of your nursing license. You invested an enormous amount in your nursing education, including your clinical hours. You also devoted tremendous effort to studying for and passing the NCLEX to obtain your Washington nursing license. Your employment in nursing practice in Washington State proves your capability and the financial, personal, and professional value of your license. The great value of your Washington nursing license warrants protecting your investment by retaining the best available professional license defense attorney team.
What Washington Nursing License Disciplinary Charges Mean
Washington Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission disciplinary charges do not mean that disciplinary officials have already determined that you committed misconduct. On the contrary, disciplinary officials act on allegations, often without having heard the accused nurse's side of the story. Disciplinary officials also know the challenges of nursing practice and know that patients, their family members, and even colleagues can make mistaken allegations. You may also have substantial mitigating evidence to avoid discipline, even if you did engage in misconduct. Disciplinary charges are simply allegations, not conclusions. Disciplinary officials may fully expect you to come forward with exonerating, explanatory, and mitigating evidence. Trust Washington's disciplinary process and the professional license defense attorney team you retain. Call 888.535.3686 or go online now to retain the Lento Law Firm's premier Professional License Defense Team for your best possible outcome.
The Nature of Washington Commission Disciplinary Charges
Washington Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission disciplinary charges are very different from criminal charges. Disciplinary charges also differ from civil court proceedings. Disciplinary charges are administrative proceedings, not court proceedings. Administrative proceedings follow less formal rules than court proceedings. Administrative proceedings have no juries, only hearing officers. Administrative license proceedings also have different outcomes than criminal charges, conviction on which can result in incarceration, and civil court proceedings, which can result in monetary judgments against you. Administrative license proceedings result in license discipline, not incarceration or money judgments for liability. But administrative license proceedings are still very serious because they threaten your nursing license, job, career, and future. Treat your disciplinary proceedings with all due attention and respect. Fight for your license with the help of highly qualified license defense counsel.
Increased Stakes of Washington Nursing License Charges
Washington's legislature has acted for the state to join the thirty-nine other states participating in the national Nurse Licensure Compact. Under that legislation still, in implementation, Washington State nurse licensing officials will submit licensing information to the Compact so that other participating states may permit practical nurses (LPNs) and registered nurses (RNs) licensed in Washington to practice in those other states. You will be able to use your Washington nursing license in other participating states once Washington officials implement the approved legislation. Yet Washington's Compact participation means that if you lose your Washington nursing license to discipline, other participating states will respect Washington's disciplinary action, preventing you from practicing nursing in those other states. Indeed, non-participating states and employers may also use the Compact's national Nursys database to learn of your license discipline and refuse your nursing practice. Suffering discipline in Washington can mean losing the opportunity to practice nursing anywhere in the United States.
What Allegations Put a Washington Nursing License at Risk?
License disciplinary issues can arise for any professional, not just nurses. But given the unique nature of their healthcare field, nurses can face their own peculiar nursing license issues. Washington's Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission has adopted the Revised Code of Washington Section 18.130.180's definition of unprofessional conduct to define the grounds on which the Commission will discipline licensed nurses. The following list summarizes most of Section 18.130.180's more than two dozen prohibitions. Retain highly qualified license defense counsel to fight any of the following charges. Washington nurses may suffer discipline for:
- committing acts involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption relating to the practice of nursing, whether the act constitutes a crime or not;
- misrepresentation or concealment of a material fact in obtaining a license;
- false, fraudulent, or misleading advertising of nursing services;
- incompetence, negligence, or malpractice resulting in patient injury or creating an unreasonable risk of patient harm;
- suspension, revocation, or restriction of a nursing license in another jurisdiction;
- the possession, use, prescription for use, or distribution of controlled substances or legend drugs in any way other than for legitimate therapeutic purposes, diversion of controlled substances or legend drugs, violating any drug law, or prescribing controlled substances for oneself;
- violating any state or federal statute or administrative rule regulating nursing, including any statute or rule defining or establishing standards of patient care or professional conduct or practice;
- failing to cooperate with the disciplining authority by refusing to furnish documents, not answering disciplinary charges, not responding to subpoenas, or not allowing investigation;
- failing to comply with an order issued by the disciplining authority;
- aiding or abetting an unlicensed person to practice nursing when a license is required;
- violating rules established by any health agency;
- practice beyond the scope of nursing practice;
- misrepresentation or fraud in any aspect of the conduct of the profession;
- failing to adequately supervise auxiliary staff to the extent that the patient's health or safety is at risk;
- engaging in contact with the public while suffering from a contagious or infectious disease involving serious risk to public health;
- promotion for personal gain of any unnecessary or inefficacious drug, device, treatment, procedure, or service;
- conviction of any gross misdemeanor or felony relating to the practice of nursing;
- procuring, aiding, or abetting a criminal abortion;
- offering, undertaking, or agreeing to cure or treat disease by a secret method, procedure, treatment, or medicine;
- willful betrayal of a practitioner-patient privilege as recognized by law;
- interfering with an investigation or disciplinary proceeding by willful misrepresentation of facts, by threats or harassment against any patient or witness to prevent them from providing evidence, or by financial inducements to any patient or witness to prevent or attempt to prevent evidence in a disciplinary proceeding;
- misuse of alcohol, controlled substances, or legend drugs;
- abusing a patient or sexual contact with a patient; or
- accepting more than a nominal gratuity, hospitality, or subsidy offered by a representative or vendor of medical or health-related products or services intended for patients under a conflict of interest.
What Is the Disciplinary Process for Washington Nurses?
Disciplinary procedures can protect your Washington nursing license against false, exaggerated, or unsupported charges or sanctions disproportionate to the professional wrong. Disciplinary procedures ensure that you know the charges against you and have a fair opportunity for hearing before an independent decision maker. Your highly qualified license defense attorney can invoke the investigatory and adjudicatory process for your most effective defense of disciplinary charges. Revised Code of Washington Section 18.130.010 provides for uniform rules for discipline against licensed healthcare professionals, including nurses. Those rules are as follows.
Washington Nursing Commission Investigations
Revised Code of Washington Section 18.130.080 authorizes Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission disciplinary officials to investigate any complaint from any person indicating a potential violation of the above Washington State nursing standards. Section 18.130.080 expressly requires those disciplinary officials to consider whether the accused nurse has faced other complaints or is practicing under a restricted license due to a consent agreement. Section 18.130.080 generally gives the investigator discretion whether to proceed with a charge, except under certain instances where the complaint alleges that the nurse violated Medicare regulations or has engaged in a pattern of serious misconduct. Because the investigator can exercise discretion in how to investigate and whether to proceed with formal charges, you should promptly retain a highly qualified license defense team as soon as you learn of a disciplinary investigation. Doing so gives your defense team the opportunity to present exonerating and mitigating evidence minimizing the risk of disciplinary charges.
Washington Nursing Commission Formal Complaints
Under Revised Code of Washington Section 18.130.090, Washington Nursing Care Quality Commission disciplinary officials must serve a statement of charge on any nurse whom they believe may have committed misconduct. The statement must warn the accused nurse to request a hearing on the charge within twenty days of service or lose the right to a hearing. An accused nurse who does not timely request a hearing loses the hearing right, effectively suffering a default to the charges. If the accused nurse timely requests a hearing, the Commission may not schedule it sooner than thirty days from the service of the request. Time is of the essence if you receive a statement of charge. Retain the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team as soon as you receive the statement of charge so that your retained Defense Team has the maximum amount of time to request a hearing and help you prepare for that hearing. When you promptly retain the Defense Team, you facilitate their communication with investigating officials. They may have an opportunity to head off a hearing with your exonerating and mitigating evidence.
Washington Nursing Commission Formal Hearings
Revised Code of Washington Section 18.130.100 authorizes the Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission to conduct a formal hearing on disciplinary charges. The hearing must comply with the state's Administrative Procedures Act requiring notice to and a fair hearing for the accused nurse. The Commission may appoint the hearing officer or panel. The officer or panel has the full right to issue subpoenas for hearing or deposition testimony and for documentary evidence. The officer or panel may also swear witnesses for truthful hearing testimony. The accused nurse may retain defense counsel to cross-examine adverse witnesses and present the nurse's own witnesses and evidence in exoneration or mitigation of the charges. Your retained license defense team will also research, draft, and submit appropriate hearing briefs. The hearing officer or panel must make a record of the proceeding and publish a written decision with a determination of the charges and rationale for the decision. Administrative rules permit only limited appeal and court review of hearing findings. Your retained license defense attorney's services are critical to your best outcome of a disciplinary hearing.
Washington Nursing Commission Consent Agreements
Consent agreements can be a good way to resolve cases involving substantial evidence of wrongdoing, where the accused nurse is nonetheless able to show good reasons for the Commission not to discipline the nurse. A consent agreement is the nurse's voluntary acceptance of the Commission's proposed terms and conditions for resolution. Your highly qualified license defense attorney may help you prepare and offer a consent agreement but should certainly help you review any such agreement the Commission offers. While consent agreements avoid immediate hearings and discipline, they may set the unwary nurse up for future discipline if the nurse is unable to comply with the terms and conditions. Don't accept any consent offer without attorney review and advice. And listen carefully to that advice. Better to negotiate a fair resolution or fight the charges at a disciplinary hearing than to submit to a consent order setting you up for imminent discipline.
Why You Need a Nursing License Defense Attorney in Washington
You may believe that with the above information and other research, you can represent yourself effectively in a Washington Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission disciplinary proceeding. Self-representation is always unwise for several compelling reasons. First, the Commission has the practically unlimited resources of the Washington State government. The Commission's disciplinary investigator and prosecuting counsel are career professionals who know how to implicate unrepresented nurses in wrongdoing and resolve cases favorably to the Commission. You are not operating on a level playing field when you represent yourself before the Commission. You are at a gross disadvantage unless you retain highly qualified license defense representation to level the playing field.
Another reason compelling you to retain highly qualified defense counsel is that the Commission must prove its disciplinary charges only by a preponderance of the evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt as in a criminal case. In a criminal case, your criminal defense lawyer might present no evidence on your behalf and still succeed in helping you beat the criminal charge by injecting reasonable doubt in the prosecution's case through cross-examination of prosecution witnesses. But you would almost certainly lose if you attempted that approach in a disciplinary proceeding. The Commission will present some evidence against you and likely substantial evidence. That presentation meets the Commission's burden of proof and requires you to overcome the charge by presenting at least as much evidence. Otherwise, the Commission will have proven the charge to be more probably true than not, which meets the preponderance standard. You need highly qualified defense representation to stand any reasonable chance of defending your disciplinary proceeding.
How a Nursing License Defense Attorney Helps in Washington
Your retained professional license defense attorney team will take several immediate steps to increase your likelihood of prevailing. Your defense team will first open lines of communication with disciplinary investigators and prosecuting counsel through which to present your exonerating and mitigating evidence. Early informal communications and negotiations may lead to the dismissal of the charges or a favorable consent agreement. Your defense team will also timely answer your disciplinary charges to avoid your default while asserting all of your affirmative defenses. Your defense team will also invoke the formal hearing while helping you identify, acquire, organize, and prepare to present your exonerating and mitigating evidence. Your defense attorney's cross-examination of witnesses, presentation of your own witnesses and exhibits, and briefing and argumentation at the hearing may carry the day with the hearing officer or panel. And your defense team may pursue post-hearing appeals and court review as necessary and appropriate. These are but a few of the many strategic activities your defense team may take to achieve the best possible outcome to disciplinary charges.
License Defense Team for Washington Nursing Commission Charges
Your best move in responding to Washington Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission disciplinary charges is to retain the Lento Law Firm's premier Professional License Defense Team and national license defense attorney Joseph D. Lento. Whether you are a licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, nurse midwife, advanced practice nurse, or clinical nurse specialist, you can trust the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team, as hundreds of other professionals nationwide have done. Call 888.535.3686 or go online now.