Nursing Board Hearings
When an administrative complaint is filed against a licensed nurse, the matter goes before the board of nursing. The legal team at Norman Spencer Law Group is here to help. With more than a decade in the healthcare legal field, we’re dedicated to the representation and defense of nurses.
We’ve helped many clients with matters that involve the nursing board, such as investigations, licensure appeals, investigations and disciplinary actions. Our lawyers are dedicated to the defense of licensed healthcare professionals, and we fight aggressively to protect their professional licenses, careers and reputations.
When someone files an administrative complaint against a nurse, the nurse has a right to request a hearing. Nurses typically receive a copy of the complaint, along with an Election of Rights form that lets you choose between an informal or formal hearing.
The form must be submitted within a specific time frame, depending on when the administrative complaint was filed. If the form is not submitted within the allotted time frame, nurses waive their right to a hearing and the chance to have their case heard in court.
An experienced nursing license defense attorney is able to review the facts of your situation and help you determine which type of hearing is best suited for your case. It’s imperative to contact a qualified lawyer as quickly as possible to ensure you’re able to file the required paperwork by the designated deadline.
Informal hearings are held before the nursing board, and they do not provide an opportunity to challenge the allegations set forth in the administrative complaint. This type of hearing is chosen when the nurse does not dispute the allegations or has already entered into a settlement agreement with the board.
While an informal hearing is a feasible option for some nurses, it is generally not the best option for most of them. Informal hearings can be viewed as a plea agreement where you’re not disputing the allegations but are asking the board for mercy.
Even if you’re not disputing the facts presented in the allegations, hiring an attorney from at Norman Spencer Law Group can work to your advantage. The cost of a lawyer is often far less than the cost of potential ramifications and sanctions that result from negative licensing action. Our lawyers may be able to have a letter of reprimand issued instead of formal action, significantly reduce probation requirements and sanctions, or have the case dismissed altogether.
Even if you are not challenging the allegations, our healthcare team can negotiate with the board on your behalf to minimize the damage to your professional license.
Formal hearings are held before an administrative law judge, and they give nurses the chance to dispute the allegations in the administrative complaint. Similar to court proceedings, formal hearings adhere to the rules of evidence, procedure and administrative law. Each side is given the chance to present its argument. Nurses may present evidence, call witnesses and cross-examine state witnesses. The state has the burden of proving their case.
Once the formal hearing is complete, the judge will issue a recommendation to the board of nursing. The board then issues a final order. If nurses disagree with the judge’s recommended order, they may submit exceptions to the board. If they disagree with the board’s final order, they may file an appeal with the district court of appeals.
Formal hearings allow you to present your case and challenge the allegations, yet they require knowledge of evidentiary laws and administrative code to achieve the most favorable outcome. Nurses that decide to represent themselves in formal hearings are missing out on the knowledge, experience and support a qualified healthcare attorney can provide.
Informal Hearings vs. Formal Hearings
The most notable difference between the two types of hearings is the burden of proof. Formal hearings require the state to prove its case in administrative court, while an informal hearing proceeds as if the allegations are true. In some cases, nurses may prevail in challenging an administrative complaint simply because the state lacks sufficient evidence to prove its case.
Even in such situations, it’s imperative to hire a seasoned attorney. While it may seem straightforward to represent yourself at a hearing, you’ll be going up against experienced prosecutors whose duty is to protect the public – not the nurses. You need to present your argument in the best possible light to demonstrate you are safe to practice and not a danger to the public. For nurses that choose to represent themselves, this can be a challenge.
Formal hearings require you not only know the facts of your case, but that you’re also familiar with the rules of evidence and the law. You must also know how to quickly spot weaknesses in the opposing party’s argument, and then articulate how the opposing party has failed to substantiate its claim.
Although informal hearings have less stringent rules, they still require following proper procedures and rules. You must have knowledge of the facts of the case, exceptional communication skills, and be well-versed in board procedure. Trusting your license to someone who is not experienced handling hearings can result in a negative outcome that may have been avoided with the help of a qualified licensing defense lawyer. The attorneys at Norman Spencer Law Group are at your service. Contact our office to schedule a consultation today.