Registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, midwives, and nursing assistants work hard to obtain professional licenses to practice nursing and contribute in a major way to society. With a nursing license comes high expectations and serious consequences for mistakes and lapses in judgment. Nurses can face disciplinary action for medical malpractice, substance abuse, and various forms of misconduct.
When there is suspected misconduct from nurses, they can be investigated by the Department of Public Health, the Board of Nursing Examiners, the Department of Consumer Protection, or other licensing agencies. It can be overwhelming to face disciplinary action, especially when these agencies have the ability to make allegations, investigate, gather private and personal information, and hold hearings. For nurses, it is especially important to get through this process and defend against allegations to not only avoid discipline but save one’s reputation, future job opportunities, and continue having a source of income.
Nursing licenses are a privilege and not a right under the law, however, there are still protections like Due Process that protect a nurse from losing their license without notice of the allegations against them and the opportunity for a hearing. This Due Process protection means that a nurse cannot have their license taken away without first getting these protections. This, however, does not mean that the license cannot be taken away first, in some circumstances. The Department of Public Health or another agency that is investigating allegations against a nurse can temporarily suspend the license automatically, while awaiting the resolution of the issue. The agency will do this only in serious situations, if it is believed that the public will be at risk if the nurse continues to work.
Nurses are at risk for losing their licenses for reasons other than misconduct. Because nurses are working with medications and patients, nurses could lose their licenses for mental health conditions and substance abuse. Connecticut has a registry that keeps track of nurses that have allegedly abused or neglected children or the disabled and this could be devastating for a nurse’s career. Nurses may face discipline as well as criminal charges for abusing drugs, alcohol, or prescriptions. Part of the disciplinary action in this situation could be a requirement to get substance abuse treatment or other programs. Allegations of patient abuse or substance abuse could lead to criminal charges as well. If a nurse is arrested and prosecuted for a crime, this could lead to an investigation of the nurse’s professional license.
If you or someone you know is facing disciplinary action or criminal charges that lead to an investigation of a professional license, contact our office to speak with an attorney that can help.