Can I Lose My Nursing License in an Emergency Suspension?

As a nurse, your license is your ticket to a career and livelihood. Unfortunately, nurses often come to me too late asking whether the Board of Nursing can take their nursing license. The answer to that question is “yes,” unfortunately. If you find yourself asking this question because you have done something unprofessional or illegal, you need to retain a competent licensing attorney immediately so that your license can be protected proactively. The Sanger Law Office has a long track record of successfully providing this sort of defense to Kansas and Missouri nurses.

You need legal representation because you have a constitutional property interest in your nursing license, and that property cannot be taken from you without “due process,” meaning some sort of opportunity to be told what the charges are against you, to challenge the evidence against you, and to argue your position. However, the amount of due process you are entitled to depends on the degree of the suspension you are subjected to, but you should seek legal representation any time you are being investigated or are facing suspension.

Emergency Suspension

If it is believed that you are a clear and immediate danger to the public, your license can be suspended with little or no due process. This is called an emergency or summary suspension, and because it is not permanent, the process is far less substantial than you might expect.  In this process, an administrative board will hear evidence that you are a danger. But unlike a court where strict rules dictate what can and cannot be considered, this sort of emergency hearing will consider hearsay and less substantial evidence than what one would expect in a civil or criminal trial. Social media posts, second-hand information, and unsubstantiated statement can all be considered.

What Steps Can I Take to Avoid an Emergency Suspension?

Nurses are under a tremendous amount of stress. Even under these stressful situations, they are expected to perform professionally and carefully document their duties.  Unfortunately, given the rise of the opioid epidemic in the United States, nurses are being scrutinized for their use, access, and destruction of pharmaceuticals that they use in a medical setting.  Allegations of use or distribution of drugs are a common basis for emergency suspensions.  Here are three steps you can take to avoid these sort of allegations being made against you:

  1. Be careful to follow all hospital or clinic policies precisely.  For example, always make sure you have someone observe the wasting of medications and that that that person actually witnesses the wasting and cosigns the appropriate documentation.
  2. Avoid all controlled substances – you may be prescribed controlled substances of a legitimate medical condition. If you need to take those controlled substances for a short period of time, do so.  However, take off from work while you are under their influence.  If something inappropriate happens while you are at work under the influence of these substances, even if they were legally prescribed, the administrative board will have no way of determining whether you are abusing them, whether you took them at work, or whether your work was influenced by their effects.
  3. Never borrow, share, or save controlled substances. Get a prescription for your medications and keep the prescription on hand until you no longer need the medication. Destroy medications once you no longer need them. Even if you think you may need the medications someday, do not keep them.  Using them later, without a prescription, may be seen as the illegal practice of medicine.

I hope that you never need this advice but also wanted to give you guidance so that you can proactively avoid license issues.  However, even professionals who do nothing wrong can be wrongly accused. Not having competent legal representation when you are being investigated can have tragic results for you, your carer and your family.

Call today if you are a nurse  from Kansas or Missouri, and you are being investigated or facing professional discipline.

Kansas Professional Licensing Attorney Danielle Sanger is ready, willing, and able to mount a vigorous defense for you. Call Attorney Sanger today at 785-979-4353 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced and aggressive attorney for nurses facing occupational discipline or licensure issues.