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Nursing license investigations: What nurses need to know

If you are a licensed nurse in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, it is important you are aware of issues that could put your nursing license in jeopardy. Kentucky law requires nurses, nurse employers and others to report suspected violations of the Nursing Law. The Kentucky Board of Nursing (KBN) receives complaints from a variety of sources, such as health care facilities, patients, co-workers, family members, law enforcement, other nursing boards, other administrative agencies, anonymous reporters, and even self-reports from nurses.

Common nursing law violations

Complaints can be triggered not only by nursing practice, but also by falsifying information in an application for nurse licensure, practicing nursing without a license, failing to complete the required continuing education/ competency hours, and even discipline in other jurisdictions. According to the KBN, common violations of the Nursing Laws include:

  • Sexual contact with a patient
  • Negligently or willfully acted in a manner inconsistent with the practice of nursing
  • Misusing or misappropriating drugs placed in your custody
  • Being unfit or incompetent to practice nursing with reasonable skill or safety
  • Falsifying or negligently failing to make correct entries on records
  • Conviction of a felony or certain types of misdemeanors
  • Discipline on a license in another jurisdiction
  • Abuse of alcohol, prescription medications or controlled substances
  • Failing to cooperate with a KBN investigation
  • Violating patient confidentiality

Early action in response to a notice of complaint is key

Nurses work hard to obtain licensure and they should take an investigation of their nursing license very seriously because the KBN has the authority to reprimand, deny, limit, revoke, probate, or suspend a nurse’s license. Obviously, not every case will result in action taken against a license.

It is important for nurses to know that they do not have to go through the investigative process on their own and have the right to be represented by an attorney, just as the KBN has attorneys prosecuting licensure complaints.

Nurses should consider retaining an experienced nursing license defense attorney upon receipt of a Notice of Complaint from the KBN.  A nurse’s response to a Notice of Complaint is crucial in the defense of the nurse’s license. An experienced nursing license defense attorney will be able to walk the nurse through each step of the licensure investigation process and customize a strategy to put their case in the best position for a positive result.