Kansas and Missouri Professional Licensing Attorney Danielle Sanger Provides an Overview of the Nursing Complaint Process

I have seen nurses’ lives and careers devastated because they agreed to a “voluntary suspension” of their nursing license or to speak to an investigator without the assistance of an attorney while the nursing board investigated allegations of misconduct. While the nurse under investigation believed that “playing ball” or helping the investigators would help their case, this seemingly positive action had tremendous negative consequences.

If you are a nurse in Kansas or Missouri facing an investigation that jeopardizes your professional license, call attorney Sanger today at 785-979-4353 to schedule a free consultation.

What Should You Do If an Investigator Contacts You?

If you are a licensed nurse in Missouri or Kansas and have been contacted by a state nursing board investigator, it means that a complaint was made against you. More troubling, it indicates that the state nursing board believed that the complaint had some merit and was worth investigating.  Former patients, former coworkers, or an employer can file a complaint against you. The complaint can be based on procedural grounds—you made a mistake or were negligent in treating a patient—or on ethical grounds.  Ethical grounds cover behavior within and without the treatment context, such as having an inappropriate relationship with a patient or getting charged with a crime.

What Can I Expect Now That an Investigator has Contacted Me?

If a nursing board investigator contacts you, the board has found enough evidence of wrongdoing to warrant further inquiry into your conduct. The investigator’s job is to find out the facts by interviewing witnesses, requesting documents, and reviewing treatment records. They will request a meeting an interview with  you. They commonly require that you submit a written statement describing the incident that led to the complaint. For each of these stages, you will benefit from having the assistance of an experienced licensing attorney’s help. I previously advised these boards and have seen how poorly drafted statements and incomplete records resulted in devastating results for nurses who tried to “go it alone.” Even small improvements based on years of experience can mean the difference between a dismissal and a finding.

What Happens After the Investigator Finishes His or Her Inquiry?

An investigation takes several months to conclude, depending on the complexity and availability of evidence. When the investigation ends, the investigator submits a summary report. Further action, including discipline, is decided based on the summary report. Discipline may include:

Dismissal– This is the best outcome. This results when the nursing board determines that the behavior alleged does not rise to the level of a violation.

Private Caution Letter– This outcome is not as good as a dismissal, but is favored over discipline. A caution letter involves the board privately admonishing and warning the nurse under investigation that his or her conduct—while not warranting discipline—was imprudent or unwise. The board will remind the nurse under investigation of applicable rules and laws governing the profession.

Formal Complaint –This outcome should be avoided at all costs. It involves the board finding a regulatory or statutory violation. The nurse under investigation often has the option to sign a consent agreement or may refuse to sign the consent agreement and instead request a full hearing before the board. If the nurse signs a consent agreement, he or she agrees that a violation occurred and to a set penalty. If the nurse goes before the board, they have another opportunity to challenge the investigation’s validity and to contest the investigator’s findings.  The board will then punish the nurse as they see fit.

As the above process indicates, the investigator’s findings and recommendations will determine the course of action in your case. The matter could be resolved quickly and favorably or may be drawn out. Having an attorney with experience before the board is invaluable at this step. Do not let an investigation ruin what you have worked so hard to build. If a state nursing board investigator has contacted you, seek the help of an experienced licensing attorney immediately.

Contact an Experienced Kansas and Missouri Licensing Attorney Now

You have worked too hard to attain your nursing license.  If you are a nurse under investigation, do not agree to any suspension of any kind or speak to an investigator without an attorney to defend you. Your career, reputation, and livelihood are at risk, and the challenge facing you is one you cannot navigate alone. Contacting an experienced licensing attorney to help you through this process and can mean the difference between getting back to helping your patients and losing your career forever.

Kansas and Missouri professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger is prepared to advocate for your best interests and defend you. Call Attorney Sanger at 785-979-4353 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney prepared to guide you through your with licensing issues.