NURSING LICENSE DEFENSE LAWYER NEEDED FROM THE BEGINNING
You need a nursing license defense lawyer any time there are complaints against your Nursing License. The Missouri State Board of Nursing has a wide range of discipline which it can impose on a nurse’s license. Don’t jeopardize your livelihood in the field you love. In this Post, I will explain why it is so important to have a lawyer right off the bat.
Common causes for nursing complaints include:
- Physical abuse;
- Verbal abuse;
- Sexual abuse of a patient;
- Neglect of a patient;
- Misuse of patient funds or property;
- Substance abuse and addiction of the nurse.
Some of these complaints violate Missouri Nursing Regulations as well as criminal statutes. Therefore, it is especially important to have a lawyer attempt to minimize the nurse’s exposure to both dangers.
Letter from Director of Enforcement Notifying Nurse of Investigation.
First, The Director of Enforcement mails a letter to the nurse. This letter advises the nurse of:
- the nature of the complaint,
- the complaint number and
- the contact information for the Investigator assigned to the complaint.
Second, letter directs the nurse to contact the Investigator within 30 days. Please do not do so without consulting a lawyer.
Third, interview and hire a nursing license defense lawyer to contact the investigator. Give the lawyer enough time to respond. Don’t wait until the last day.
Meet with your lawyer. Write down every detail before you forget. After all, the complaint may not be concluded for many months. Get names and contact info for any potential witness. “Barney From Geriatric” might not still be working when you need his testimony. Get his last name and address!
3 Reasons why you need a nursing license defense lawyer now.
The State Board has not issued a formal disciplinary action yet. It is still investigating the incident(s). This is why the investigator is reaching out. Your nursing license defense lawyer will try and narrow your exposure to violations of Regulations and Criminal Laws. Here’s how:
- Your lawyer might be able to keep the investigation from going further, particularly if there is a misunderstanding by the “Complainant”. [Complainant: legalese for the person or entity making the complaint. It could be the patient, family member, friend of patient, or facility.]
- Your lawyer might be able to reduce the number or severity of the complaints finally issued by the Board of Nursing.
- Your lawyer’s statements to the investigator cannot be used against the nurse. On the other hand, any conversation the nurse has with the investigator could be an unintended admission of wrongdoing. The nurse might admit to a violation and a crime. Let the lawyer speak with the investigator for the client.
How Liberman Law Firm conducts nursing license defense for its clients.
- I will speak to the investigator.
- Then, I will advise you whether to give a statement.
- If you do give a statement, you and I will meet first. We will discuss every detail you can remember, so we do not forget later. I will prepare you by discussing possible questions you’ll be asked. I will describe the physical setting to you so that you may focus on your statement.
- Your lawyer may be able to have your complaint sealed to the public. See my blog post on this topic.
Some nurse’s statements are made in person. Others by telephone. They may be recorded or not. We will discuss all of this in advance.
The Investigator is searching for Nursing Regulation violations. However, the investigator may share the report with law enforcement. This means some complaints may result in separate criminal charges.
A Nursing Board investigation is a serious matter. The investigator for the Director of Enforcement is not conducting a criminal investigation. Beware, if there is a separate criminal investigation, any statements a nurse gives to the investigator may be turned over to the law enforcement officer investigating the alleged crime. On the other hand, statements made by your lawyer may not be used against you. Thus, your lawyer provides a layer of protection for the nurse. A degree of separation.
Below are some examples of nursing regulations interacting with criminal statutes:
- Stealing from a patient is both a crime and violation of Missouri Nursing Regulations.
- Physically abusing a patient can be both a crime and violation of Nursing Regulations.
Not all Nursing violations are criminal. For example:
- A nurse with a substance abuse problem may be violating Nursing Regulations. The nurse does not commit a crime if there is no harm to the patient.
- A nurse who does not maintain proper records of patient care has not committed a crime if no harm was intended, and no patient harm occurred.
There is a third scenario, when a law enforcement detective views the Nurse investigator’s file. Incriminating statements made by the nurse to the investigator may be used in criminal prosecution. In order to explain this, we will need some legalese decoding.
“Burden of Proof”
A criminal prosecutor must prove a crime “beyond a reasonable doubt“. This is what is called the “Burden of Proof” in legalese. Beyond a reasonable doubt means, evidence that leaves a judge or jury firmly convinced. Beyond a reasonable doubt is the heaviest burden of proof we have in law. It is the hardest to prove. That is the burden of proof required in criminal prosecutions.
A violation of Nursing Regulations only needs to be proved by “a preponderance of the evidence“. This means, more likely than not, as in 51% likely. This is easier to prove than beyond a reasonable doubt. It is a lighter burden of proof.
If witnesses give vague statements to the investigator, or contradict each other, a prosecutor might decline to issue criminal charges against the nurse, unless, in addition to the other witnesses, the nurse admits criminal conduct to the investigator. A nursing license defense lawyer minimizes the inadvertent admission of guilt.
Let a nursing license defense lawyer handle your nursing license defense before talking to the Nursing Board Investigator. It could very well be the difference between one complaint, multiple complaints, or complaint plus criminal charge.