To initiate disciplinary proceedings, the Board of Registered Nursing in the state of California must first notify the individual nurse. This is accomplished by filing an Accusation. An Accusation is a formal pleading document which outlines all of the reasons the California Board of Registered Nursing is seeking discipline against the nurse, as well as the Board’s authority to issue discipline. The Accusation will be mailed to the Nurse’s address of Record, and will also be posted on the Nurse’s public Breeze profile as well as on Nursys.
At the end of the Accusation, the Board will specifically request that the nurse’s license be revoked. Reading the Accusation, and request for revocation, for the first time, can be extremely overwhelming, as many nurses feel a major sense of responsibility to care for their patients and provide financial support to their families. The idea of losing your Nursing License can be a daunting experience and downright scary – but you need to be extremely proactive in order to potentially prevent your license from being revoked.
The Board filed a Formal Accusation Against your Nursing License – What’s Next?
Below, please find a list of initial steps our office takes after our Nursing clients receive an Accusation:
Review the Accusation, and determine if any Affirmative Defenses need to be raised. According to the California Government Code Section 11506, if a nurse fails to raise an affirmative defense at the initiation of their matter, they may waive their right to waive the defense in the future.
Review the Supplemental documents included within the Accusation packet. In addition to the Accusation, the nurse should also receive a request for discovery, a notice of defense, and a document entitled Statement to Respondent. The Statement to Respondent informs the nurse who the Board’s Attorney (the Deputy Attorney General) is, and informs the nurse which Board Analyst is assigned to their case.
Object to costs and preserve the right to object to Cost Recovery in the future. Pursuant to Business and Professions Code Section 125.3, the Board is entitled to require a nurse that sustains discipline to reimburse the Board for the costs that have been expended on investigation and prosecution. Dependent on the facts and circumstances of the allegations, this amount can be very high. During negotiations and/or hearing requests can be made to lower the amount of Cost Recovery requested based upon the principles articulated in Zuckerman as well as Financial Hardship. It is important to reserve the right to object to costs, as well as request a breakdown of expenses from the Board at the onset of litigation.
File the Notice of Defense. This step is significantly the most important step to initiating a defense against a Nursing Board Accusation. Although presumably a simple step, if a nurse fails to file their Notice of Defense timely and accurately, they can be restricted from litigating their matter and their license could be revoked by a default decision.
When our office files Notices of Defenses for our clients, we do much more than complete the form enclosed with the Nursing Board Accusation. We raise all affirmative defenses, we request a copy of the Discovery from the Board, and we request that the matter be set in a jurisdiction most cost-effective for our clients.
After the Notice of Defense has been filed our office starts a two-prong approach to litigating the matter and defending our clients. We prepare for hearing before the Office of Administrative Hearings, while at the same time prepare a persuasive mitigation packet in hopes of resolving the matter. As the matter is just in the beginning phase, it is important to prepare for both paths to optimize the licensee’s ability to maintain their license and continue to work in their chosen profession.
Although nurses may find the task of completing mitigation cumbersome, our office does not believe in busy work. The mitigation requested is specifically tailored to the Board’s disciplinary guidelines, rehabilitation criteria, and extensive history working with the Board and Office of Administrative Hearings Administrative Judges.
Dedicated Attorneys with Extensive Experience Representing Nurses
Receiving an Accusation from the Board of Registered Nursing can be heartbreaking. Many of our clients come to us in tears and are unsure how to even begin fighting for their license. As a nurse, your patients look for you for assistance on how to move through the scariest times in their lives, and as nurse attorneys we are here to do the same for you.
With the support of attorneys experienced with helping Nurses with Accusations, our office can help navigate the process, analyze your matter, negotiate with the Deputy Attorney General, and litigate your matter before the Office of Administrative Hearings.
As a licensed registered nurse, you ask for the trust of your patients each and every day. You treat your patients as people, and not just a list of symptoms. You need an attorney with experience in defending Nursing Accusations to do the same. With a holistic approach, our office’s goal is to persuade the Deputy Attorney General and/or the Office of Administrative Hearings that our nurse clients are much more than a list of deviations outlined within the Accusation. That our nurses have achieved Nursing degrees, have put their wellbeing on the line to treat patients during a global pandemic, cared for patients at the most vulnerable moments, earned the respect of their employers and the admiration of their peers.