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Protecting your nursing license from disciplinary complaints

Your choice of nursing as a career likely came from very personal factors and events in your life. Most likely, there are many days when you feel good about the help you can provide and the difference you make in your patients' lives. Nurses are truly on the front line of many life and death battles.

Nursing isn't without its stressors. One of those is the ever-looming possibility that someone will file a complaint against you. In fact, anyone can file such a complaint, whether it is a jealous co-worker, a concerned superior or a miserable patient. Someone who knows you outside of work may complain about you to the Ohio Board of Nursing or to your direct supervisor.

Proactive steps

If someone files a formal complaint about you, it is nothing to shrug off. In fact, the way you handle a complaint and a subsequent disciplinary hearing may set the tone for the rest of your nursing career.

However, some advocates for nurses believe it is better to deal with complaints and their consequences long before those events arise. There are several ways to be proactive about potential disciplinary action. In fact, if you wait until someone files a complaint against you, it may be too late to protect yourself in these ways:

  • Purchasing insurance to protect you against professional liability and to cover the cost of your legal fees
  • Staying current on the scope of practice in your field
  • Paying attention to details in your job and documenting your actions scrupulously
  • Voluntarily requesting help if you have an addiction or if you are facing a DUI or other criminal charges

However, you certainly want to be careful about the way you handle self-reporting. In fact, you may wish to seek legal advice before admitting to any behaviors that may lead to disciplinary action.

Facing the board

While many nurses believe the board of nursing is an entity established to provide support for nurses, this is not entirely true. The board's main job is to uphold the highest standards in the nursing profession and to protect the public from nurses who don't meet those standards. If the board determines the complaints against you are valid and that those complaints are evidence that you are a danger to patients, you may lose your license.

Because of the severity of the consequences, you do not have to face legal accusations or a disciplinary hearing alone. However, the advice you seek will provide the most benefit if it comes from someone who has experience defending licensed professionals against disciplinary boards.

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