Texas Board of Nursing Disciplinary Process

TEXAS BOARD OF NURSING DISCIPLINARY PROCESS - AGENCY MISSION

The mission of the Texas Board of Nursing (BON) is to protect and promote the welfare of the people of Texas by ensuring that each person holding a license as a nurse in the State of Texas is competent to practice safely. The Board fulfills its mission through the regulation of the practice of nursing and the approval of nursing education programs. This mission, derived from the Nursing Practice Act, supersedes the interest of any individual, the nursing profession, or any special interest group.

If you are a nurse who has been accused of any violation of the Texas nursing practices act such as:

  • Medication Errors;
  • Documentation Errors;
  • Nursing Assessment Errors;
  • Misappropriated Narcotics;
  • Pyxis Machine Issues;
  • Patient Abandonment;
  • Patient Complaints And Allegations;
  • Chemical Dependency Or Substance Abuse Issues
  • Drug Diversion;
  • Negative Peer Review;
  • Criminal Arrests, Convictions, Or Placement On Deferred Adjudication;
  • Background Check Issues;
  • Misunderstood Nursing Application Questions;
  • HIPAA Violations;
  • Referral from TPAPN (Texas Peer Assistance Program for Nurses)
  • Nursing Compact Licensure Issues;
  • Communication Issues: Misunderstandings Of Patients;

It is very important for you to immediately seek experienced legal counsel who has knowledge in this very intricate and specialized area of law. Again, if you have been accused of any violations such as the above, you should seek legal counseling immediately to see what options you have and what could possibly happen with your nursing license. Or if you have already tried to deal with the nursing board yourself and the results were not as expected, you may still possibly be able to take care of the potential issue. Call Eyler Law Offices at 214-540-7750 or email us to discuss your nursing board issues.

EARLY ATTORNEY REPRESENTATION IS IMPORTANT

Remember: IT DOES NOT MAKE YOU LOOK GUILTY TO HAVE AN ATTORNEY.

With all of the federal and state laws, rules and regulations that govern the nursing occupation it is very important for a nurse to seek experienced legal counsel to ensure that their rights are preserved. After all, your Texas nursing license may be on the line and so is your livelihood. Early representation by an attorney experienced with Texas Board of Nursing process will most often improve the chances of a successful conclusion for the nurse. You can inadvertently make statements against your own personal interests without realizing you are doing it.

You should do everything in your power to protect your rights as the Texas Board of Nursing is not there to do that for you. If you are being investigated or questioned by either your current employer or any agency that may report you to the nursing board, hiring an attorney is the smart thing to do. You need an advocate on your side to ensure that you are protected in the event that a complaint is filed with the nursing board.

Always remember that the Texas Board of Nursing is an administrative agency, and even though they may appear to be there to represent you, their main purpose is to regulate the practice of nursing and protect the public. In other words, blindly answering questions without proper guidance could potentially affect your ability to continue your current livelihood as a nurse. Again, a Texas nurse should have an attorney familiar with occupational and professional license defense, who will act as their advocate and protect their best interests, their license and career.

If you are licensed by the Texas Board of Nursing in any of the following occupations: Registered Nurse (RN), Advanced Practice Nurse (APN), Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA), Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN), or a graduate nurse, and have received a complaint/investigation letter from the Texas Board of Nursing or are part of the nursing board disciplinary process, contact Eyler Law Offices at 214-540-7750 or email us, to seek legal counsel and protect your license.

Texas Board of Nursing Investigation

The Complaint

The Texas Board of Nursing provides "due process" to the nurse by notifying him or her of the investigation and the allegations, unless doing so could possibly jeopardize the board's investigation. The nurse is given the opportunity to respond to the allegations made against them and to show compliance with the Texas Nursing Practice Act.

Your swift action to respond to a notice of investigation by the Texas Board of Nursing is imperative. Early involvement by an attorney can prove to be a vital element to a successful outcome. The nursing board complaint process is time sensitive. A nurse should never ignore the inquiry letter and fail to respond, if that happens it will certainly initiate an investigation.

Nurses do have the right to self-respond to a complaint or a notice of investigation to the nursing board. However, without professional guidance your well intentioned response can lead to additional allegations against you, in addition to loss of personal and work time and income. Often times this happens because nurses inadvertently “open the door” to other possible nursing violation issues without intending to do so. And many times in the process, nurses unintentionally still do not answer the allegations in the original complaint against them.

Nursing Board Investigation Evidence

The nursing board investigator’s job is to obtain all necessary evidence and witness interviews to substantiate the allegation against the nurse. Much of this part of the investigative process is conducted through the mail, emails and by phone. Sometimes the nursing board investigators will make on site visits. When all necessary evidence has been obtained to either substantiate or refute the allegations, the investigation team reviews the evidence in order to make a determination of whether there is probable cause to believe a violation of the nursing practice act exists.

If a case is substantiated, an agreed order will be sent to the nurse. If the case is not resolved by an agreed order it then will proceed to either an informal settlement conference or a SOAH trial/hearing (State Office of Administrative Hearings).

If a case is closed by the nursing board, the complaint and all evidence will be expunged from the nurse's file. (unless it is closed “without prejudice”, which means, if a case is dismissed the nursing board is allowed to bring new actions on the same claim if there is new evidence presented.)

Informal Settlement Conference

This process typically begins with the nurse and his or her attorney attending an informal settlement conference at the Texas Board of Nursing office in Austin, Texas. This hearing is usually scheduled several months in advance. In attendance at the conference are the Executive Director, or her designee, Director of Investigations, legal counsel for the Board, the assigned investigator and the nurse and their attorney.

During the informal settlement conference all evidence discovered by the nursing board is presented and questions are asked of the nurse. The nurse and their counsel are allowed to respond to the allegations. The attorney can ask questions and provide any additional information or evidence that they feel is necessary and appropriate.

It is critical to have an attorney experienced with the nursing board in order to anticipate what questions will be asked in the informal settlement conference. At the conclusion of the informal settlement conference the nurse is informed of the recommended disposition of their case.

If the panel determines that the nurse should be disciplined, the board will prepare a proposed agreed order and send it to the nurse and their attorney. The agreed order will contain proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law and agreed sanctions. Some common nursing board sanctions and penalties include a warning, reprimand, imposition of fines, the completion of remedial education, supervision and/or restrictions on the nurse’s license for defined periods of time. The nursing board may also revoke or suspend the nurse’s license.

If the nurse agrees with the contents of the proposed agreed order, the nurse and their attorney signs the order before a notary and returns it to the nursing board. The proposed agreed order is then scheduled for review by the full nursing board. The Board may choose to ratify the agreed order as is, suggest modifications, or reject it.

A copy of the final agreed order is mailed to the nurse and their attorney. The disciplinary action is then posted in the next Texas Board of Nursing quarterly newsletter and is entered into the National Council of State Boards of Nursing Disciplinary Data Bank. All nursing board disciplinary actions are public information and become a permanent part of the nurse’s licensure record.

Formal Conference

If the nurse does not agree to the proposed agreed order, or if the nursing board is unable to make contact with the nurse during the investigation, the board will file formal charges based on the allegations. A public disciplinary hearing before an administrative law judge (SOAH hearing- State Office of Administrative Hearings) is scheduled several months in advance. This is a trial where the nurse is allowed his or her day in court.

The nursing board attorney and staff present evidence against the nurse and nurse is allowed present their side of the case as well. The Administrative Law Judge renders a Proposal For Decision (see TOC rules), which contains findings of fact and conclusions of law, and submits this proposal to the Board.

Based on the findings of fact, conclusions of law and the Proposal for Decision, the nursing board may find that a violation of the Texas Nursing Practice Act has occurred and impose a penalty, or may find that no violation occurred and close the case with no action.

Again, if you are a nurse who has been accused of a violation of the Texas Nursing Practices Act, it is very important for you to immediately seek an experienced and aggressive attorney who is knowledgeable in this very intricate and specialized area of nursing law. At Eyler Law Offices, we have the experience to help nurses with any potential legal issue. Call us at 214-540-7750, or email us for a free initial consultation.

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