APRNs and Disciplinary Actions

Advanced practice registered nurses, APRNs for short, serve a whole host of functions in providing healthcare to patients. The APRN designation encompasses a relatively wide range of healthcare professionals. APRNs can be nurse practitioners, midwives, clinical specialists, and nurse anesthetists. Our healthcare system has turned to more of these specialized professions to assist physicians in the increasingly demanding obligation to deliver medical treatment.

The ethical rules of each profession and the individual states’ rules of the profession govern the professional conduct. Accordingly, all APRNs must be licensed according to the state’s law in which the APRN chooses to practice. The negligent, reckless, or willful failure to comply with the rules of the profession will subject the APRN to professional disciplinary action.

In both Kansas and Missouri, APRNs fall under the purview of each respective state’s Board of Nursing. Each state requires advanced training and education to maintain status as an APRN as compared to an RN or LPN. APRNs are responsible for maintaining the performance standards of the profession in addition to the ethical standards thereof. However, despite the higher standard of care to which APRNs must adhere, they are guaranteed the same rights as RNs and LPNs if they have been accused of a violation of the professional standards governing the profession.

The Rights of an APRN Facing Professional Discipline

Every person who holds a professional license, including APRNs, receives the protection of Due Process rights if the licensee faces disciplinary action. Their Due Process rights are guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Kansas and Missouri’s state constitutions offer similar protections, respectively. The APRN facing professional discipline enjoys the right to:

  • Representation of counsel of their choosing, even at the investigation stage;
  • A fair hearing presided over by a detached and neutral magistrate;
  • See the government’s evidence that purports to substantiate their claim of wrongdoing;
  • Confront and cross-examine witnesses;
  • Call witnesses who will testify on behalf of the APRN;
  • Present evidence in their own defense;
  • Negotiate a resolution of the offenses short of hearing, and
  • Judicial review after exhausting all administrative law review alternatives for relief.

Potential Penalties

The sanction an APRN receives depends upon an analysis of several factors. The disciplinary body will consider the APRN’s professional and personal history, their record of previous disciplinary action if any, and the severity of the allegations proved after hearing. The disciplinary body could also consider the effect the infraction had upon a patient as well. The disciplinary board can consider other factors such as the APRN’s initiative to get help on their own for a substance-abuse problem or attend additional educational programs to reduce the chance of recidivism.

The APRN has the right to representation by counsel during the sanction phase of the proceedings as well. A knowledgeable and skillful professional licensing attorney will zealously argue for reduced sanctions. The possible sanctions are:

  • Censure,
  • Reprimand,
  • Probation for a specified time with conditions or restrictions on the APRN’s license to practice,
  • Suspension, and
  • Revocation.

Revocation is obviously the most severe sanction. Disciplinary boards do not callously revoke a person’s license. However, they will if it is necessary to protect the public safety and maintain the integrity of the profession. Even if the licensing authority hands down such a severe punishment, the APRN may have the opportunity to apply for reinstatement after a specified time elapses.

Do Not Take On The Government Alone

You have the right to be represented by counsel at every stage of the proceedings. That includes the investigation phase. Before you contact your licensing authority after learning of a complaint lodged against you, you should contact professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger. Attorney Sanger is an aggressive and zealous advocate for professional licensees in Kansas and Missouri. Call Kansas Professional Liability Defense Attorney Sanger today at 785-979-4353 to schedule your free consultation.