Registered nurses who pursue additional education and testing, usually through the American Midwifery Certification Board, may be certified in the US as nurse midwives. The process is a rigorous one, requiring the nurse to pursue a master's or doctorate degree, have a significant amount of clinical experience, and pass a certification exam before being certified by their state as a nurse midwife.
For many patients, the health care provided by a nurse midwife will replace much of the care typically provided by an OB/GYN physician. As a result, nurse midwives often play an extremely important role in providing critical health care to their patients.
As a nurse midwife, you understand first-hand how hard you've worked to earn your certification. Not only have you earned your RN license, but you've also completed the additional education and training required just to be able to take the AMCB certification test. If you are facing a situation where someone has filed a complaint against you with your state Board of Nursing (or with the AMCB), you should treat it seriously. A complaint filed with the AMCB could result in you losing your nurse midwife certification, and a complaint filed with your state Board of Nursing (BON) could result in you losing both your certification and your nursing license.
These are obviously worst-case scenarios. But even lesser penalties can have significant professional consequences, which is why you should seek the help of an experienced professional license defense attorney if a complaint has been filed against you. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team have years of experience representing nurses and nurse midwives nationwide in disciplinary proceedings. They can help you understand the complaint filed against you, assist with any investigation that results, represent you in discussions and negotiations with the appropriate governing bodies, and, if necessary, defend your rights in any disciplinary hearing that may take place.
Types of Conduct Covered by the State Disciplinary Process
The disciplinary process applies to situations where the nurse or nurse midwife has acted in ways that violate the law, regulations, or rules that apply to their area of health care. These can include:
- Failing to follow accepted standards of care when treating a patient;
- Mishandling or personally abusing drugs;
- Abusing their relationship with a patient for personal gain;
- Engaging in illegal or improper sexual conduct with a patient;
- Defrauding a patient, care facility, or insurer;
- Where applicable, failing to disclose a previous criminal conviction.
The Disciplinary Process
The typical complaint investigation and resolution process is described in more detail here, but in short, will usually include the following steps:
- Evaluation of the complaint to confirm that the BON (or equivalent state licensing agency) has jurisdiction over the issues described in the complaint;
- Investigation of the allegations;
- Determination of whether or not to file charges against the nurse midwife;
- Where charges are filed, there may be a settlement conference in an attempt to resolve the matter without a hearing;
- Unresolved charges will go to an administrative hearing;
- If the hearing results in a guilty finding against the nurse midwife, the BON will impose a penalty.
Appeals of BON hearing decisions are possible but are limited in scope to procedural and legal errors. The appellate court will not re-try the disciplinary hearing.
Penalties That May Be Imposed
Where a charge against a nurse midwife is substantiated, the BON may impose a range of penalties. The nurse midwife may be officially reprimanded or censured; fined; restricted in what types of care they are allowed to give; have their nurse midwife certification revoked; or have their nursing license suspended or revoked.
Discipline by the AMCB
The American Midwifery Certification Board has its own disciplinary process that may apply to nurse midwives. A nurse midwife may face discipline from the AMCB for a number of reasons, including:
- Fraud in the application process;
- Cheating during any part of the certification examination process;
- Alcohol or drug abuse;
- Failure to meet accepted medical or ethical standards when treating patients;
- Gross negligence;
- Being sanctioned by their state's licensing board (such as a BON);
- Conviction of a crime directly related to their practice as a nurse midwife.
The AMCB has its own disciplinary procedure that includes the following steps:
- The AMCB will review and investigate the complaint.
- Where the complaint appears to be substantiated, the AMCB appoints a Review Committee. The Review Committee will notify the nurse practitioner of the allegations and provide the nurse practitioner an opportunity to respond.
- If the Review Committee determines by a majority vote that a violation of the AMCB Discipline Policy has occurred, it will issue a written decision and recommend a sanction.
- The Review Committee's findings and recommendations are next reviewed by the AMCB's Executive Committee for Discipline.
- The Executive Committee may accept or reject the findings and recommended sanctions from the Review Committee. Their decision is sent to the nurse midwife and is effective immediately.
- If the sanction imposed on the nurse midwife is to deny or limit the nurse midwife's AMCB certification, the nurse midwife may appeal within 30 days.
Don't Face Professional Disciplinary Proceedings Alone
If you are notified by your state Board of Nursing or by the AMCB that a complaint has been filed against you, you need the help of an experienced attorney who understands how professional license disciplinary proceedings work. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team have been helping clients in the healthcare profession nationwide defend their professional licenses and certifications for years. They have experience dealing with the laws that apply in these kinds of investigation and disciplinary hearing cases nationwide and can help you understand the allegations against you, gather the facts and information you need to defend yourself, negotiate with your state BON or the AMCB, and represent you in any BON hearing or throughout the AMCB disciplinary process.
This is not something you want to try to do by yourself. Contact Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team today to find out how they can help you protect your ability to practice as a nurse midwife. Call them today at 888.535.3686, or reach out online using their online contact form.