8 Common Reasons for Nursing License Suspensions
In Louisiana, a nursing license is a property interest that is protected by the Constitution. In order to suspend a nurse’s license, the Louisiana State Board of Nursing must provide the nurse with due process of law, including a fair and impartial hearing, and may only revoke his or her license on the basis of legally valid evidence. However, if the Board is concerned about the immediate safety of patients, they may immediately suspend a nurse’s license in a summary suspension and then schedule a disciplinary hearing.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common reasons that Louisiana nurses have their licenses suspended:
1. DWI Conviction
If you are convicted for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Louisiana or out-of-state, you must report the conviction to the Louisiana State Board of Nursing. The Board will suspend your nursing license if they determine that you are unable to practice nursing safely.
Typically, first time DWI offenses do not result in the suspension of one’s nursing license, unless a drug or alcohol evaluation indicates on ongoing addiction problem or the circumstances surrounding the incident are particularly egregious. Subsequent DWI convictions are more likely to result in license suspension.
2. Drug Diversion
The term “drug diversion” basically refers to stealing medication. If allegations of drug diversion are made against you as a nurse in Louisiana, an investigation will be conducted. Allegations of drug diversion against a nurse can arise in a number of ways—a coworker or supervisor may suspect the nurse of diverting medication or being impaired while at work, or errors in charting may indicate missing doses.
If a colleague or supervisor suspects that you may be diverting medications, they can report the incident to the Louisiana State Board of Nursing and provide the following information for each medication they suspect you have diverted: nurses’ notes for the day, dispensing report (removals and waste of medication), and doctor’s notes.
3. Falsifying Patient Records
Falsifying a patient care record cannot only lead to disciplinary action from the Louisiana State Board of Nursing, but it may also result in criminal charges. These actions are both unethical and illegal, potentially exposing patients to serious danger.
There are many different ways in which a nurse might falsify patient records including incorrect dosage of medications administered, misreporting visits, documenting treatments that were not actually administered or failing to document procedures and treatments that were given, documenting charts for multiple patients at once without regard to the accuracy of the records, and covering up bad outcomes through falsification of records.
4. Patient Neglect or Abuse
Patient neglect and abuse can be both physical and psychological. Failing to attend to a patient’s hygienic, food, water, medical, and bathroom needs, or being physically, verbally, or psychologically abusive to a patient can result in disciplinary action against a nurse, including suspension of their nursing license, and possibly even criminal charges.
Unfortunately, patient neglect and abuse by the nurses who are responsible for their care and well-being is not uncommon. Elderly and disabled patients are particularly vulnerable to neglect and abuse, which may be intentionally or unintentionally inflicted by a nurse.
Sometimes, nurses are overworked and have too many patients to care for at once, causing some patients’ needs to slip through the cracks. However, it is a nurse’s responsibility to speak up and provide a patient with necessary care or attention.
5. Misappropriation Crimes
The Louisiana State Board of Nursing classifies misappropriation crimes as offenses that can result in the suspension of one’s license or the denial of a new application for a nursing license. These crimes include fraudulent acquisition of a credit card, credit card fraud, Medicaid fraud, unauthorized use of “access card”, bank fraud, theft of assets from an aged or disabled person, and identify theft.
A person commits identity theft when they unlawfully use the personal information of another person as their own. If it is revealed that a “nurse” used the personal information of another nurse in order to obtain a nursing license or for any other unlawful purpose, that individual may lose their nursing license and face criminal prosecution.
Medicaid fraud is a significant issue in the medical and insurance fields, resulting in higher premium costs for insured individuals. As such, Medicaid fraud is treated very seriously in the State of Louisiana and if a nurse is found to be participating in Medicaid fraud, he or she may lose their nursing license.
Under the rules and regulations set forth by the Louisiana State Board of Nursing, if a Louisiana nurse is found guilty of a misappropriation crime, they will not be eligible to submit a new application for a license, even if their sentence is suspended or their conviction is later expunged—a process by which a record of a criminal conviction is erased from one’s background.
6. Distribution, Manufacture, and Production of Drugs
If a nurse is convicted of illegal possession of drugs with the intent to distribute, their nursing license will likely be suspended. The Louisiana State Board of Nursing’s rules and regulations state that nurses who are convicted of crimes involving the “production, manufacturing, distribution or dispensing of controlled dangerous substances” will be subject to disciplinary action, license suspension, and have new applications for a nursing license permanently denied.
Controlled dangerous substances (CDS) include recreational marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroine, Ecstasy, prescription drugs without a valid prescription, and any other drug classified as a CDS by the Louisiana Criminal Code. Even if a nurse’s sentence is suspended by the court or their record of conviction is expunged, their license may still be suspended.
By the nature of their work, nurses tend to have easy access to many prescription drugs. Drug diversion may play a part in drug distribution, but these actions constitute two separate offenses. For example, if a nurse takes oxycodone from the hospital he or she works at and sells it to someone, they may be convicted of theft and illegal drug distribution. Either of these actions individually could cause the nurse to have their license suspended by the Board.
7. Crimes of Violence or Sex Offenses
If a nurse is convicted of a crime of violence, as defined by the Louisiana Criminal Code, they will likely have their nursing license suspended. Under Louisiana law, crimes of violence include, but are not limited to, first and second degree murder, manslaughter, aggravated battery, second degree battery, aggravated assault, aggravated or first degree rape, forcible or second degree rape, simple or third degree rape, sexual battery, second degree sexual battery, intentional exposure to AIDS virus, aggravated kidnapping, second degree kidnapping, simple kidnapping, aggravated arson, aggravated criminal damage to property, aggravated burglary, armed robbery, aggravated assault with a firearm, and stalking.
There are also a few crimes of violence which may occur more frequently among nurses, due to the medial nature of their profession, including first- and second-degree feticide, criminal abortion, and cruelty to the infirmed.
8. Unethical Conduct
In addition to the offenses listed above, if a nurse violates the rules and regulations of the Louisiana State Board of Nursing through unethical or unprofessional conduct, they may be subject to disciplinary action including license suspension, even if their actions do not lead to criminal charges.
If a nurse acts unprofessionally by developing a sexual relationship with a patient or acting in an insubordinate manner, they may be disciplined by the Board, potentially leading to license suspension.
In one case, a Louisiana nurse had her nursing license revoked after she yelled at her unit secretary to input data into the computer and pushed her into a chair and across the nurse’s station. The nurse challenged the revocation of her license, alleging that her constitutional rights were violated, but the Board’s decision was upheld by the appellate court.
If you have been accused of violating the rules and regulations of the Louisiana State Board of Nursing and may be in danger of having your nursing license revoked, do not face these allegations alone.
Nursing License Defense Attorney, David Aden, has successfully represented numerous Louisiana nurses and helped them to protect the valuable property interest of their license to practice nursing. With a degree and background in nursing—in addition to his law degree—David holds special knowledge in this field and a unique understanding of the administrative and legal challenges that nurses face when accused of criminal or unethical conduct.
If you believe your Louisiana nursing license may be in jeopardy of being suspended, contact The Law Offices of David Aden, located in New Orleans, today at (504) 599-5941 for a complimentary consultation of your case.