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Actions the Louisiana State Board of Nursing Can Take Against Nurses—and What to Do About Them

February 12, 2019

Nursing is a challenging job, and the stresses that nurses face on a daily basis can become situations that put their licenses at risk—sometimes for reasons that are completely beyond their control. The Louisiana State Board of Nursing has great power to limit nurses’ ability to work. The Board can take different actions against nurses, depending on the situation.

I’ve put together a list of the different ways the Board may act. Of course, the decisions that the Board makes in your case depend on very specific facts, and no case is exactly like another. It’s always best to get legal advice from an experienced attorney when you think your license may be in jeopardy.

Formal Reprimand

Of all the different ways the Board can take action, a formal reprimand is the least serious. Nurses who receive formal reprimands get an official letter from the Board, which states the Board’s concerns. The nurse may also be ordered to pay a fine.

A fine is an unwanted expense, and the letter can be scary. But, what about the long-term impact? The reprimand stays associated with your license. It stays in your license file as a “Prior Board Action.” If you get in trouble with the Board in the future, having the Prior Board Action in your file and mean more serious consequences.

Formal reprimands are issued when the Board doesn’t need an extensive investigation to tell what happened. For example, one nurse tried to renew an expired license. When she did, the Board confirmed her employment and discovered that she’d been working while her license was expired. It issued a formal reprimand and fined her $500.

License Suspension

When your license is suspended, the Board prohibits you from the practice of nursing. This means you cannot work as a nurse. License suspension can be indefinite or for a limited time.

There are many reasons that the Board may suspend a nursing license. Diversion of narcotics or other medication is one of the most common. The Board also suspends licenses for improper documentation of medical care, when allegations of abuse or neglect are made, or when nurses are accused of unprofessional conduct.

License Suspension With a Stay of Suspension & Probation of the License

Sometimes, the Board can threaten to suspend your nursing license unless you meet certain requirements. In legal terms, the license suspension is “stayed.” You can continue to work, and the Board staff will supervise your license for a period of time while you meet the requirements.

What a nurse is asked to do can vary depending on each situation. Stipulations for reinstatement of your nursing might be things like:

  • Completing drug and alcohol counseling
  • Remaining sober for a certain period of time
  • Completing a criminal sentence
  • Not reoffending for a certain period of time after a conviction

If you don’t meet the requirements during the time the Board has set for you, it will suspend your license. That’s why it’s very important to work with a lawyer who can protect your interests in the first place. There is a lot hanging over your head when your license is stayed, and life can get complicated. Your nursing license defense attorney can help make sure that life’s complications don’t lead to a loss of license.

Voluntary Surrender of the License

Sometimes, nurses can voluntarily surrender their licenses instead of waiting for the Board to suspend them. The nurse receives a Consent Order, which says that the nurse admits to certain facts and will voluntarily stop practicing nursing. The nurse must wait a minimum of two years and meet certain requirements before having the nursing license reinstated. The Board reports the voluntary license surrender as a final decision, which means that it will remain on your record.

Nurses choose to voluntarily surrender their licenses and admit to facts for many reasons. Sometimes, the evidence against them is very strong. By voluntarily surrendering a license and then working to get it back, it can be possible to avoid more harsh consequences like nursing license suspension or revocation.

Summary Suspension of the License

When the Board determines that the public health, safety and welfare requires emergency action, it can immediately suspend a nursing license. This is called a “summary suspension.” Nurses have faced summary suspension for many different actions in Louisiana, including:

  • One nurse’s erratic actions at work led her supervisor to ask for a drug test. When that happened, the nurse admitted to using methamphetamine the day before.
  • While working as a home health nurse, one nurse became involved in a dispute and struck the patient’s caregiver with a blunt object.
  • One nurse was suspected of drinking while on duty. An alcohol test confirmed that she was above the legal limit.
  • After a patient broke a leg in a fall she did not report, security footage revealed that one nurse had brought her children to work with her that day and was working without a current license.
  • While training in a new nurse, one nurse filled medication bottles with water when the count was off. The new nurse reported her trainer to the Board.

After suspending your license, the Board then schedules your case for the next available formal hearing. It will continue to investigate allegations against you, and it will likely initiate a more serious action, including revocation of your license, in a Formal Complaint.

The Board will send you notice of the date and time of that hearing by certified mail. It may also ask you for a written response to the allegations against you. It’s important to get a lawyer’s help as soon as possible—instead of trying to handle these matters alone. Your lawyer can help you respond to the allegations and can represent you at the hearing. Getting legal help is the best way to protect your nursing license after a summary suspension.

Revocation of the License

Revocation of License is the most serious licensure consequence a nurse can face. When this happens, the Board makes your nursing license void. You cannot practice nursing in Louisiana, and you will never be allowed to work as a licensed nurse in the state again.

What to Do If Your License Is at Risk

Life is stressful. Any of these actions could impact you during your nursing career. If it does, it’s important to take action and not just give up. After all, you worked hard for your license, it’s worth a lot, and it’s important to work hard to protect it.

As an experienced attorney and licensed nurse with a master’s degree in health care administration, I understand the medical terminology and medical care necessities in a way that most lawyers do not. I also know the importance of a nursing license. If your license is at risk, call me for a confidential consultation about your next steps.

It’s best to call as early as possible. If you think your license may be in trouble with the Louisiana State Board of Nursing, call The Law Offices of David Aden, in New Orleans, at 504-217-2239.