Nurse Loses Her License Due to Unprofessional Conduct

In previous blogs, I have addressed the power and authority that boards of nursing possess, and the types of disciplinary actions they can take against a nurse license.

I have also written about the importance of obtaining representation from an attorney in disciplinary proceedings because what the board orders can have a long-lasting effect on your future.

In the following case, a nurse finds out the hard way what “unprofessional conduct” means for her continued nursing practice.

Specifics Behind Unprofessional Conduct Accusation

In 2011, a nurse who held LPN and RN licenses (allowed in her state) had both licenses suspended after she illegally obtained a physician’s DEA number, impersonated a physician, and ordered Xanax prescriptions in her own name.

The nurse also pled guilty to the federal crime of Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Deception. The criminal court ordered her to enroll in a drug diversion program which, if successfully completed, would result in no criminal conviction. The nurse did not comply with the requirements of the program, and she was convicted.

Because the nurse did not complete the program, the Department of Justice filed a complaint with the nurse’s state board of nursing seeking revocation of her nursing licenses.

A hearing was scheduled, and the nurse received notice of the hearing but did not appear. The board conducted the hearing and voted to revoke the nurse’s licenses.

The nurse asked the board to re-open her hearing, and the board agreed. The nurse testified that she had committed the crime for which she was convicted, gave specifics to the board, apologized, and accepted responsibility for her actions.

Citing various sections of the state nurse practice act and its regulations, in May of 2011 the board suspended the nurse’s licenses for five years if the nurse successfully completed a drug diversion program.

The nurse appealed that decision, but the court upheld the board’s decision.

From June of 2011 until January 31, 2012, the nurse worked as a nurse while her licenses were suspended. The Justice Department filed a second complaint with the board of nursing.

In 2013, the board found that the nurse violated the nurse practice act by practicing without a license, which it considered to be unprofessional conduct. Based on her failure to comply with the board’s suspension of her licenses, the board permanently revoked her license pursuant to its authority and the nurse practice act. The nurse did not appeal that board decision.

In 2015, the governor granted the nurse a full pardon of the criminal conviction. The nurse applied to have her licenses reinstated, but the board voted to “propose to deny” the reinstatement because the licenses were permanently revoked and could not be reinstated.

The nurse then applied for licensure by examination. The board again proposed to deny her application due to the licenses being permanently revoked under the nurse practice act, and she was therefore not eligible for a state nursing license “by endorsement, examination, or reinstatement.” She requested a hearing and submitted documentary evidence and testimony. The nurse’s lawyer also provided oral argument.

In …read more

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