Understanding Your Rights and the Administrative Process in Kansas KSBN Discipline Proceedings

If you have dedicated the time and effort to obtain a license as a Registered Nurse, Licensed Practical Nurse, or Licensed Mental Health Technician in Kansas, you understand the sacrifices involved in joining the nursing profession.  Unfortunately, the Kansas State Board of Nursing (KSBN) investigates 2,300 disciplinary cases per year.  Since there are about 70,000 individuals currently licensed by the KSBN, the agency investigates allegations and potential discipline against 3 percent of its licensees annually.  If you are facing the prospect of disciplinary action against your license, it is important to understand the process and your rights.  Because Danielle Sanger often represented the KSBN when she was an Assistant Attorney General, she understands the disciplinary process, potential resolutions of allegations, and the best strategy to oppose or mitigate licensing penalties.

The KSBN might receive a complaint or notification that indicates a licensee might have committed a violation of the Kansas Nurse Practice Act (KNPA), which defines the scope of nursing practice and delineates impermissible acts.  If the actions of a nurse are alleged to be inappropriate, the KSBN has the legal power to gather information and investigate the allegations.  When the KSBN receives a sworn complaint, investigation of the allegations is mandatory.  The agency will commence an administrative action against the licensee if the investigation yields evidence that the allegations have merit.  The board can impose a range of penalties depending on the facts and circumstances, which include denying, limiting, suspending, revoking, and/or publicly or privately censuring a licensee.

While the impact of adverse action against an individual’s license can have a devastating impact, the financial impact can be even more damaging because significant fines can be imposed. A nurse hit with a first offense can face a $1,000 fine.  This fine amount doubles for a second offense and rises to $3,000 for subsequent offenses.

Because a nursing license is a “property right,” a licensee is entitled to certain constitutional protections.  Hearings and procedures involved in disciplinary proceedings against a licensee are governed by the Kansas Administrative Procedure Act (KAPA).  The KAPA is a group of statutes that articulate the procedures by which the KSBN should abide. The procedures specified are designed to ensure that an individual threatened with loss of a nursing license, which is a protected property right, receives due process.  Ms. Sanger tenaciously defends these rights, which include but are not limited to the following:

  • Right to a fair and impartial hearing
  • Right to cross-examine and subpoena witnesses
  • Right to offer and attack evidence
  • Right to legal representation
  • Right to reasonable notice

The formal disciplinary process can begin in one of two ways.  The first process involves the licensee receiving a “Summary Order” document.    This form will specify the alleged factual and legal basis for potential discipline against the licensee.  If you disagree with the allegations, you have the right to request a hearing to challenge the complaint.  Alternatively, you might receive a petition making legal and factual allegations and requesting that specific penalties be imposed.

Sometime after the request for a hearing or the Petition from the Attorney General’s office, the licensee will receive a notice of hearing. This notice of hearing is extremely important and must be dealt with promptly.  The document will indicate a date and time to appear to oppose the allegations made against the licensee.  Failure to appear, obtain a continuance, or contact the KSBN will result in the matter proceeding on a default basis, so penalties are imposed without you ever having your side of the dispute considered.  Discovery occurs in the administrative proceedings similar to litigation, so you have the right to request statements and documents that provide relevant information and evidence.

While the evidence that will be considered will depend on the specific case, the types of information that will be weighed if the allegations involve fitness to practice include but are not limited to the following:

  • Current moral fitness
  • Potential risk to public health and safety
  • Maturity, experience, and character
  • Efforts toward rehabilitation
  • Skill and competence
  • Type and severity of alleged misconduct
  • Consciousness of any wrongdoing and impact on the profession
  • Present conduct
  • Amount of time since alleged misconduct or a criminal conviction

Based on the evidence introduced, the entire board, a panel, or hearing officer will provide a written order that includes factual findings and conclusions of law to support any sanctions imposed, which will be served on both parties.  The notice will indicate an effective date and provide a timeline for submitting a notice of appeal.

If your nursing license is in jeopardy, Kansas Professional Licensing Attorney Danielle Sanger is prepared to investigate the allegations against you and aggressively pursue available defenses to protect your law license.  If you are facing a complaint in front of the Kansas State Board or Nursing or Missouri State Board of Nursing, Attorney Danielle Sanger represents nurses facing disciplinary proceedings, so call us today for a free consultation at 785-979-4353.