It may be shocking to receive a formal notice of a complaint against you involving your work as a nurse. You've strived throughout your career to provide the best patient care possible, and take your duties as a nurse seriously. When someone calls into question your care, you may not know where to turn next. A disciplinary proceeding could threaten your ability to work, your career, reputation and your life. It is important to have a professional attorney standing by your side to ensure that your rights are protected.
You may think that the complaint against you involves an upset patient or a simple misunderstanding, and that by just explaining what happened, the complaint will go away. Disciplinary proceedings are not so straightforward, and volunteering too much information may hurt you in the end. Experience has shown that your best chance for a favorable outcome comes from getting legal representation as early as possible in the investigation. I have been representing nurses before disciplinary proceedings for more than a decade, and will be able to clearly explain the entire process to you.
No-Obligation Case Assessment
Simply understanding the process and knowing what you can expect will go a long way. No two cases are exactly the same, which is why it is important to discuss the specifics of your individual case. I offer a no-obligation consultation, during which we can talk about your options, the chances for success, how to dispose of the case, and any other questions or concerns you may have. After the case assessment, you will feel confident that you are in good hands, and will be fully and fairly represented.
If your case also involves allegations of medical malpractice, your insurance carrier will generally represent you for those civil court claims, but it will not extend to disciplinary proceedings. The two proceedings are distinct and separate, although they may involve many of the same issues. Your insurance carrier understands that having legal representation is crucial to your malpractice claim, make sure you are fully represented in your disciplinary proceeding as well.
What to Expect
In Washington State, nursing disciplinary proceedings are governed by the Department of Health. Together with various boards and commissions, they have disciplinary authority. After a complaint is received, they will review and investigate the case to determine whether there has been a violation and if they have the legal authority to take action.
If the evidence does not support the complaint, the matter is then closed. If they do find violations, then the matter is presented to a panel for approval to take action against the nurse(s). As soon as you become aware of a possible investigation, you should consult an experienced attorney skilled in representing nurses before administrative proceedings. Penalties could include mandatory fines, counseling, training, or suspension of your license.
This is a general overview of what your case may involve. However, each case is unique based on facts and circumstances involved. With a no-obligation assessment, I will be able to more fully analyze your case, and provide you a clear understanding of what to expect going forward, provide you with all your options, and help to obtain the best possible outcome for you and your case. Remember, the earlier you talk to an experienced lawyer the better, because everything you say can have an effect on your case.
For more information from the Washington State Nursing Association on the complaint and disciplinary process: http://www.wsna.org/practice/publications/documents/Disciplinary%20Process%20Booklet%20v11-1.4.pdf