There are few careers more rewarding than nursing. As a nurse, you provide direct patient care, helping people through some of the most challenging times in their lives. Yet being a nurse can also be stressful, and requires compliance with a set of strict rules imposed by the state’s licensing board.
In California, if you violate the law related to the practice of nursing, you may be subject to disciplinary action. One possible consequence of a violation is probation. During probation, you can still practice as a nurse, subject to strict limits on your license as well as probation terms.
While probation is not the optimal outcome for all cases, if suspension or revocation is a possible disciplinary action, it may be preferred. If you are under investigation for a violation of California’s nursing laws, a compassionate San Diego professional license defense can help you defend your license and your livelihood.
The California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) has the authority to discipline a registered nurse (RN) for a violation of the Nursing Practice Act. Depending on the severity and recency of the conduct, current ability to practice safely, evidence of rehabilitation, mitigating factors, and past disciplinary history, the BRN may take one or more of the following disciplinary actions:
In some cases, the BRN may impose a suspension or revocation of a nurse’s license, and stay that disciplinary action. If a suspension or revocation is stayed, then the disciplinary action will be temporarily set aside and the licensee will be able to practice as a RN with a restricted license under a period of probation. If the nurse successfully completes probation, then the revocation or suspension order will be lifted. A probation violation may result in the stay being lifted and the original disciplinary action being imposed.
The BRN may order probation for any number of violations, including drug or alcohol abuse, gross negligence or incompetence that endangers patients, practicing nursing without a license, mental impairment that affects the ability to provide appropriate patient care, unprofessional conduct and failure to meet the standard of care. In addition, the Board may discipline a nurse who has a misdemeanor or felony criminal conviction that is substantially related to the qualifications of a nurse. For example, if a nurse is convicted of a DUI, then they might face disciplinary action by the BRN.
After an investigation by the Department of Consumer Affairs, the BRN may choose to move forward with a formal charge, or Accusation. If an Accusation is filed and the parties do not reach a stipulated settlement, the next step is an administrative hearing. The administrative law judge will issue a decision, including a recommended disciplinary action. The Board will then adopt that decision and the discipline – such as probation – will be imposed.
While the preferred outcome of any Board investigation is to have the complaint dismissed and/or the Accusation withdrawn, there may be situations where probation is the best possible result. In particular, if there is a possibility of losing your RN license through suspension or revocation, then probation might be favorable. A skilled San Diego healthcare license defense attorney can work with you to help you achieve the best outcome for your case.
According to the BRN’s disciplinary guidelines, a period of probation should be a minimum of 3 years. The Board will also impose specific conditions of probation, which fall into two categories: standard conditions, which appear in all probation orders, and optional conditions, which may be used for certain violations.
There are thirteen standard probation terms:
Optional conditions of probation include:
Conditions 14 through 19 are typically added if the violation involved chemical dependency (abuse of alcohol and/or controlled substances), but can be added for other offenses as well. For violations involving unfitness to practice due to mental illness, conditions 14, 18 and 19 are recommended. Importantly, any of these conditions may be included if warranted by the violation.
Significantly, a violation of one or more of these conditions may lead to a revocation or suspension of your RN license. Because complying with these terms can be onerous, it is vital that you understand exactly what is required of you. If you have any questions about the terms of probation, consult with your nursing license defense attorney.
We know that even the best nurses might make mistakes or struggle at some point during their careers. If you find yourself facing a BRN investigation after making an error or having a lapse in judgment, we are here to help.
At the Law Office of Nicole Irmer, our practice is dedicated to helping nurses and other professionals through all stages of the disciplinary process. With substantial experience and knowledge of the law, we advocate for our clients to achieve the best possible outcome. For a confidential, no-risk discussion of your legal options with a compassionate nurse license defense attorney, call us right away at (619) 237-6310 or email us at any time.