You have dedicated your entire career to caring for others, and serving your community—so finding out that a complaint has been made against you is devastating.
Will you lose your license? Will ever find another job if you are disciplined? What about all of the good things you have done to support patients over the course of your career?
Let Forshier Law, LLC Take Care of You
Barbara Forshier is in the unique position of understanding your concerns and knows what it takes to help you through this devastating ordeal. She has more than 35 years of nursing experience in a metropolitan hospital setting and over a decade as an attorney representing nurses before the Minnesota Board of Nursing. As an RN, Barbara knows the immense amount of pressure you face every day in your career and how unsafe staffing, excessive documentation, and administrative policy changes have steadily added to your workload over the years. Her understanding of the practice of nursing and the practice of law makes her the ideal advocate for Minnesota nurses facing possible discipline at the Board of Nursing. If you have been called before the Board of Nursing to defend your RN or LPN license, you may have a lot of questions and concerns.
Common Nursing Board Complaints in Minnesota
Complaints made to the Board of Nursing vary widely in severity. They all relate to one or more violations of Minnesota’s Nurse Practice Act. Types of complaints include:
- Practice related. This category includes complaints relating to poor patient assessment, failure to implement interventions, failure to document, improper drug administration, and other breaches in the standard of care.
- Abuse related. Complaints in this category include inappropriate sexual contact, physical abuse, mental or emotional abuse of patients, and general maltreatment.
- Drug related/Substance Use Disorders. These complaints relate to the misuse or mishandling of controlled substances. Complaints include taking medication intended for patients (diversion), false documentation of medication administration, attempts to get unauthorized prescriptions filled, and using medications in a way that causes a nurse to work while impaired.
- Boundary violations. Nurses must maintain strict boundaries with patients, and some complaints relate to boundary violations that benefit the nurse directly. For example, there might be complaints about a nurse receiving money or gifts from patients after sharing too much about their personal life or maintaining inappropriate personal relationships with patients.
- Fraud. Fraudulent behavior puts the entire health care system at risk. Possible violations include documenting care or procedures that have not been done, falsifying credentials or work experience, submitting inaccurate billing statements, or lying about hours worked to increase pay.
Complaints Against Overworked Nurses
There is no question that nurses who flagrantly disobey the rules or ignore minimal standards of the nursing practice should be held accountable. However, in many cases, complaints made against Minnesota LPNs and RNs are not true or accurate. In many situations, complaints are a result of an unhealthy work environment, retaliation, or unsafe staffing situations.
It’s no secret that administrative requirements have increased significantly in recent years, not only in Minnesota, but across the country as a whole. Nurses are being asked to complete redundant documentation and tend to patients’ needs in a way that creates a customer-customer-service provider relationship, rather than a patient-caregiver relationship. In this way, nurses’ positions have been increasingly tied to a patient’s satisfaction with their care—not the actual quality of the nurse’s care.
These decisions are often made by out-of-touch corporate executives, or by accreditation agencies like The Joint Commission who, rather than using evidence-based practice, set goals based on other objectives or financial incentives. When complaints arise, many have a tendency to blame nurses rather than look at the broken, ineffective system.
National and state nursing associations are fighting for change. In the meantime, though, nurses who have been victimized by this system deserve protection and representation.
Nurse Complaint Process in Minnesota
Complaints are overseen by the Minnesota Board of Nursing. After the Board receives a complaint, they begin the investigative process. If the complaint was filed by a patient, this may involve reviewing the patient’s records to determine the validity of their claims. They may also subpoena the nurse’s employment records.
Early in the process, you should receive a letter stating that a complaint has been filed. This is followed by a letter informing you of your rights and either requesting a response to allegations or requesting your response to the allegations followed by an in-person conference with a disciplinary Review Panel. The latter is called a Notice of Conference.
If you are asked to respond to allegations without a conference, it is still important to hire a knowledgeable attorney because responding well at this stage could result in a dismissal without having to appear before the Board.
The Board may resolve the complaint by dismissing the complaint, either because there is no evidence to support it or because they believe that the nurse in violation has received sufficient correction of any issues. Dismissed complaints are not public record.
The Board may decide that a nurse requires further education. If you enter an Agreement for Corrective Action, know that this document is public, even though it is not disciplinary However, it will not be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank.
In other cases, the Review Panel decides to discipline the nurse. Any discipline on a nurse’s license becomes public. This is why it is especially important that you have an attorney who will negotiate the information provided in public order. Often the Board will attempt to publicize allegations that have not been proven as a fact which is not acceptable. If the nurse and Board do not agree on the disciplinary action, the Review Panel will initiate a Contested Case Hearing. This is a trial-like procedure where an Administrative Law Judge determines whether or not the nurse is in violation of the Nurse Practice Act. If the nurse is in violation, the action goes back to the Board to impose discipline. Disciplinary actions include civil penalties, reprimands, conditions of your continued practice, limitations on your practice, suspension of your license, or revocation of your license.
How to Protect Your Nursing License in Minnesota
At Forshier Law, LLC, we understand how important it is to you that you maintain your nursing license. No one puts in hundreds of hours of clinical practice and dozens of all-night study sessions in for a career that they are not passionate about. We are dedicated to hearing your side of the story and fighting on your behalf.
It is important to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible if you want to preserve your nursing license. The earlier you have representation during the complaint process, the less likely you are to weaken your own case or be pressured into an unfair agreement. Some nurses are afraid that hiring an attorney is an admission of guilt. This isn’t the case; hiring an attorney simply shows that you are not willing to take any chances with your chosen career.
If you are facing a complaint that could threaten your nursing license, let us guide you through this process. Contact us to schedule your free evaluation.