Every licensed nurse is overseen by the Board of Nursing in his or her state. That board regulates the licenses, continuing education, and any complaints filed against the nurses in the state. If someone files a complaint against you with the nursing board, an investigation process will begin. Here's what you need to know about that process.
Will You Be Notified?
In most cases, when a complaint is filed against you, the nursing board will notify you before they launch their investigation. That notification will include information about the nature of the complaint, as well as an indication of whether or not they are formally launching an investigation into the matter.
However, if the nursing board has reason to believe that notifying you of the complaint could hinder the investigation or affect the process in a negative manner, they may not actually tell you until the investigation itself is complete. This is within their legal rights in an effort to preserve the integrity of the investigative process.
How Long Will the Investigation Take?
The length of the investigation can vary widely depending on the circumstances surrounding the case. It could be over in as little as a few months, or it may continue for as long as a year or more. There is no single guideline or deadline by which a nursing complaint investigation must be completed.
What Happens During the Investigation?
During the investigation, the nursing board will review the complaint that was filed, talk with the complainant, review the patient's case files as well as any other relevant information from the period in question, and gather any other evidence that they deem beneficial.
Once all of the evidence is gathered, they will review the details to determine if they believe that there was a violation in the care provided. If not, the case will be closed with no further action. In some cases, it is closed and the complaint is stricken from your record entirely. This usually happens when there is no foundation for the complaint. However, if the nursing board has any reason to have concerns going forward, they may leave the complaint on your record for a predetermined period of time so that it is available as evidence if something else should happen.
What If the Nursing Board Finds a Violation?
If the nursing board determines that a violation did occur, you will be reprimanded. The result of this reprimand can vary depending on the severity of the violation. It could be anything from mandatory restitution payment to license loss and potential criminal charges.
You may also be given a chance to attend a settlement conference, in which the nursing board reaches a settlement agreement with the complainant, and you will be bound to the terms of that agreement.
For more information, contact a Nursing Licensing Board investigation consultation service.