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What are defenses in disciplinary actions against physicians, nurses & healthcare professionals?

Updated: Jul 29, 2021

Attorney Malik W. Ahmad knows how important registered nurses and physicians are to healthcare in Nevada. We had represented nurses, physicians, healthcare personnel of all sorts in our law office. Our clients rely on us to protect their license and protect their livelihood. We call ourselves Nevada’s best nursing license defense attorney for a reason based on our experience and results. Of course, we help them in any disciplinary and licensing matters. The sooner they come and meet us, the better it would be for all of us. We had appeared in all kinds of hearing in front of the administrative panels of all sorts to defend nurses, physicians and kinds of healthcare workers. No matter what stage of the disciplinary process you are in, we can help. However, we strongly suggest to meet us ASAP.

Some questions and Answers for Disciplinary Issues in front of the State Board of Nursing.

I’m being investigated by the Board of Registered Nursing, what do I do? The first step in most disciplinary cases filed by the Nevada Board is an investigation, conducted by an investigator and invariably is done by a letter. This is the first dreadful letter. Some disgruntled patient or their relative had filed a complaint against you or by a hospital administration report, or by an arrest and/or subsequent criminal conviction. If you receive this letter you should know that you are being investigated, call Attorney Malik W. Ahmad right away. No procrastination required. The sooner you call the better it would be for all of us. You should not attempt to deal with an investigator yourself. Bring us the letter right away.

How will I know if I’m being investigated?

At the earlier stage the Board is only conducting secret investigation against you and collecting all kinds of witnesses and evidentiary proof. They need not inform you this earlier stage of investigation. No warning required and given under any laws or rules. More often, the nurse finds out about the investigation when they’re contacted directly by an investigator. The investigator will ask the nurse for employment records and may even request a meeting. Registered nurses are required to cooperate with investigators, but they do not have to sign releases or agree to a meeting. Don’t take action without consulting an attorney first. This is very early stage and Law Office of Malik W. Ahmad can easily handle this.

You have not done anything wrong—you just simply had received a letter whose immediate and appropriate response is required. Also, hiring an attorney is not proof of your guilt—but right and no one think you have done something wrong.

This is part of the due process to hire and keep an attorney. These matters are not trifling or simple. Even the four-sentence letter has deeper implications. No one can punish you for hiring and keeping an attorney. They may tell you it is simple proceedings but don’t trust them. It has deeper implications and wide-ranging impact. There is also no credit, under the law, for confessing, admitting, or otherwise discussing the case with Board investigators. Although you are required to cooperate, you should always do so with legal representation to protect yourself. Just do not walk into the hearing room with proper help and partnership. We would be your partner in the hearing.

How long will the investigation take? No one knows the time period. There is no limit for how long the Board of Registered Nursing can attempt to investigate potential misconduct. Of course, they also implicitly harass you but would never acknowledge it. In fact, Boards are allowed to investigate nurses who have done nothing wrong, just to make sure they are complying with the law. A first letter does not attach your due process rights until a formal hearing is conducted. Based on many investigations, we estimate that most investigations take between 6-14 months from the start of the investigation to the issuance of an Accusation or the close of the case.

How can I stop the Board of Registered Nursing from filing an Accusation? Of course, we would strive in every case is to persuade the investigator to close the case without recommending further disciplinary action. But this does not happen in every case. Sometimes the nurses had made mistake and it is their first mistake or something terrible and unknown had happened. In cases where the registered nurse has made a serious mistake, we work with the investigator to make sure the Board and their attorneys have a complete picture of the facts of the case and the nurses involved. Even though one had made a mistake but there are strong evidence of mitigation and rehabilitation is critical at every stage in the case, and we help our nurses by presenting this information to Board investigators early in the process to assist the Board in making a decision. Mitigation circumstance and your first wrongful mistake makes lots of difference in a disciplinary process.

What the investigator is looking?

The investigator is looking for stronger evidence to prove his case and invariably the record is in your possession or you are the only knowledgeable about it. A good cooperation is a solid start in such cases. Investigations are confidential by law. It is very rare for the investigator or the Board to contact uninterested parties to discuss the investigation, and the facts of the investigation are not available online. However, if a nurse is being investigated for a patient complaint that occurred at work, the hospital or facility will often be notified, and other coworkers or supervisors may be contacted by the investigator.

Accusations and License Defense

I got an Accusation from the Board of Registered Nursing! What do I do? Getting an accusation in the mail from the Board of Registered Nursing can be a traumatic experience for a Nevada registered nurse. The accusation comes directly from the Nursing Board, it contains important paperwork and deadlines that the registered nurse needs to meet, and the nurse also has to sort through a stack of paperwork related to the disciplinary matter immediately in order to fully protect their license. The best course of action is to seek an experienced licensing attorney right away.

Preserve all the paperwork as they are legal and evidentiary documents.

The first letter itself is a legal document; it’s the document that officially declares what the physician, registered nurse or any medical personnel did something wrong and what the Board wants them to reply and answer the questions. The questions have deep meaning though they may look simple and innocent in the beginning. The letter is accompanied by a Statement to Respondent (the Respondent is the accused registered nurse), a Request for Discovery, and a Notice of Defense. The Notice of Defense is the most important. It must be responded immediately otherwise it may revoke your immediate license. The easiest way to handle all the paperwork is to hire an attorney to take care of responding to the paperwork, so that should be done right away.

Why are they doing this to me—I only made a simple mistake.

No decisions can be made from any Board without the licensed professional given a chance of hearing. You have a right to defend yourself and to produce rebuttal evidence. Well, in many complex cases, stipulated agreements are very common because it is not all cut and dry when either party can go to the hearing. Each one has to have an iron clad case. Nothing with a stipulated settlement, the nurse usually agrees that some or all of the violations occurred, and the Board agrees to a disciplinary outcome that is more lenient than outright revocation of the license. Settlements are done all the time and acknowledgement of mistakes are made under certain mitigation circumstances.

THE Boards are buy but that does not mean they had forgotten you--they have an elephant kind of memory.

And what if I like to settle my case instead of contesting it.

Nothing wrong with the settlement. It can save you lots of expenses and aggravation. Of course, once should acknowledge and rectify his/her own mistakes from recurring. Let the attorney handle this part also because they are qualified in such settlements. As they carefully evaluate each and every thing weighing against and in favor for you and then recommend certain actions. Settlements are certain and predictable and causes lesser pain. Also, it is possible that some of the accusations may go away. Now, it is a refined and refurbished accusation against you which can be easily digested with lesser pain. Only an attorney who carefully evaluates the circumstances of your disciplinary case can answer this question. All cases involve the drawback of risk of license revocation, suspension, fines etc.

What is the highest priority of the Board in such matters?

The highest priority of the Board for licensed professionals is to protect the Nevada public, and they view all disciplinary actions as measures taken to protect the public. The Boards would tell you that they are not there to punish you but to protect public at large. The Board can insist on restrictions or conditions to a license. Rehabilitation is the most important factor in how an Administrative Law Judge or the Board itself will resolve disciplinary matters based on convictions.

What is an administrative hearing? An Administrative Law Judge? Do I have to testify? If your case goes to a hearing, this is a panel of one or more people who would listen the whole story against you and definitely your side of the story as well along with all kind of evidence and weigh the evidentiary value of each witness and documents. This is headed by an experienced person which you may call an administrative judge or chairman. At the hearing, the Board’s attorneys present documents and witnesses, hear testimony, and ask the judge to discipline nurses. The nurse and his/her attorney have the same opportunity to present evidence and argument, but the accused nurse must testify in their own defense or be called as a witness. The chairman hears the case and prepares a written “Proposed Decision,” which is administered against you. This may either set you free or discipline you with sanctions, reprimand or fine etc.

The Board’s Decision is not the end but it is not a good beginning

Most proposed decisions are adopted by Board regardless of whether the outcome is favorable to the Board of Registered Nursing or not. However, in some cases, Board may reject or ask for alterations and proceed for a modified outcome. However, Board holds the ultimate authority to regulate registered nurses in Nevada because it is the ultimate authority in Nevada. However, Boards’ decisions can be appealed for an abuse of discretion or other legal reasons to District Courts under Petition for Judicial Review which is a separate legal process. I have done such petitions many times and the standard is based on two steps: 1. Whether decisions is arbitrary? 2. Whether decision is capricious? Definitely, we can help you there.

Will my malpractice insurance cover my legal fees?

Law Office of Malik W. Ahmad accepts most license defense insurance coverage upon carrier approval.

What if I am denied Registered Nursing even if I have a license from another state?

I have a criminal conviction in my background, can I still get an RN license? The answer is generally yes, but how long it will take to get a license and what restrictions the license might have will need to be worked out with the Board and their attorneys. Sometime, we need to address the problem in the primary state of issuance of license and resolve pending matters there.

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