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Jan 30 2017

How alleged professional misconduct can affect nursing licenses

All registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), certified nursing assistants (CNAs), nurse practitioners and physician assistants must have a valid license that allows them to practice in their state. However, their job makes them vulnerable to accusations of professional misconduct that can lead to licenses being suspended or revoked.

The loss of a nursing license can completely destroy a career. Even a temporary license suspension may create difficulties in finding another position.

A nursing professional can face an investigation for misconduct based on allegations such as failure to properly maintain medical records, criminal convictions, abuse or neglect of patients, gross negligence or practice under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

New York nurses are governed by the state Department of Education’s Office of Professional Discipline (OPD). The office is responsible for investigating complaints of professional misconduct against a licensee. Their scope of investigation includes examining documentation and interviewing coworkers, patients and friends. Besides imposing fines or probationary terms, they may also suspend or revoke licenses.

Physician assistants accused of failing to meet the standards of practice may face investigations by the Office of Professional Misconduct (OPMC). Along with coordinating disciplinary hearings, the office is responsible for investigating every complaint, regardless of merit. As a result, OPMC investigations are serious and have the potential to destroy an individual’s professional reputation and career. The OPMC has the power to revoke, suspend or limit licenses.

A nursing professional or physician assistant whose license is threatened by a disciplinary proceeding should immediately seek the help of an attorney. The attorney can provide legal guidance on how to protect one’s rights and avoid the risk of losing one’s professional license. Do not ignore an investigation in the hopes that the matter will be resolved on its own.