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Hard working and long suffering nurses are all too often accused of some form of misconduct in nursing home or hospital settings in New York state. Unfortunately in a number of scenarios, the nurses take the fall for a given facility’s failings and shortcomings or even just because they are not liked by their superiors. The result has seen conscientious nurses accused, disciplined, and even fired so that a hospital could protect its own interests. It does not have to end this way.
Why Do Nurses Become Disciplined in New York?
The nursing profession is governed by strict regulations and rules in the state of New York. Running afoul of these can cause you as a nurse to suffer the loss of not only your job but potentially your professional license as well. It is the NYS Education Department Office of Professional Discipline which is tasked with investigating and prosecuting nursing professional misconduct within the state of New York. Where the ultimate disposition of any disciplinary procedures against registered nurses is concerned, the Board of Regents has the final authority.
Nurses who practice in the state could be accused of having engaged in professional misconduct for the reasons below:
How Are Nurses Investigated in New York for Professional Misconduct?
Disciplinary procedures can be initiated when someone files a complaint to the OPD Regional Office of Professional Discipline. This OPD then opens an investigation into the complaint. In the event of a criminal conviction by a nurse, the state’s Department of Probation alerts the Department of Education concerning the result of the case so that a further investigation can be opened. In any given year, this OPD gets around 10,000 individual complaints, and a great number of these concern nurses.
The majority of such complaints come from employers, while a few do originate with patients. An accused nurse will often receive contact from an OPD investigator who asks for documents or demands an in-person interview. After such an investigation concludes, the investigator then compiles a report for the Board of Nursing and the OPD attorney. They then determine if there is enough evidence to continue on to the stage of disciplinary case or not. A number of cases get dismissed at this point, while others move ahead. It is helpful for a nurse to retain legal counsel to deal with the OPD as they will be skilled in negotiating the possible outcome.
What Should A Nurse Do Who Receives an Investigation Letter from the OPD?
Once a letter of investigation comes in from the OPD, a nurse must consult with an attorney who has experience in handling the OPD and its actions. All information that the investigator acquires will be included in the investigative report. This can be badly damaging to a nurse’s case.
You should not talk with the investigator. In the case that their letter asks for documents, you might have to deliver them, but you are not required to talk with the investigator. Should you be contacted regarding a matter of misconduct by an investigator from the OPD, you should call an experienced NY nurse practitioners’ lawyer as soon as possible.
This is equally the case if a law enforcement agency places you under investigation because of any criminal activity. Making voluntary statements, admissions, or confessions will not help your case but only make it more challenging. You should always insist on talking over your case with a lawyer before you give any kind of information to a law enforcement officer or investigator. These discussions with your attorney will be fully confidential.
Is It Necessary for A Nurse to Engage a Lawyer to Help with This Disciplinary Case?
Many nurses do not realize the gravity of their situation when they are investigated. Their reputation, license, and capability of earning a living all are in jeopardy at this stage. Attempting to solve the dilemma on your own is not an ideal answer. Nurses are well trained to help sick patients, not to solve complex legal cases like an experienced attorney can.
The outcome from obtaining skillful, aggressive, experienced counsel for your cause versus not getting it can make an enormous difference. We recommend going with a firm that has established itself in handling cases with those New York state nurses who are under investigation by members of the OPD.