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Nurses, think before you self-report

To many Arizona nurses, one of the most intimidating aspects of holding a professional license is the thought of having to appear before the Board of Nursing to answer questions in an investigation. You may also shudder to realize the Board expects you to tell them when authorities file certain criminal charges against you.

The list of felonies and misdemeanors to report is quite extensive, and complying with the Board's condition to self-report is not optional. If you are facing criminal charges, you may think that reporting to the Board will provide you with an advocate to protect your license. This is not the case, however.

As if you didn't have enough trouble

The Board of Nursing regulates the profession, holding nurses to high standards and ensuring that patients are safe from any dangerous behaviors from their caregivers. This is why the Board requires you to report any misdemeanors authorities file against you, if those misdemeanors demonstrate behavior that could harm your patients. For example, the law requires you to report to the Board if prosecutors file charges for DUI or drug-related offenses.

You must self-report any felony within 10 business days of the charge against you, even if the charge has no bearing on your ability to care for your patients. Some examples of offenses for which the Board requires self-reporting include:

  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Theft
  • Forgery
  • Fraud
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Drug offenses
  • Obscene behavior

If police arrested you but prosecutors have not filed formal charges against you, you do not yet have to report to the Board. However, as soon as prosecutors file the charges, you will have 10 business days to notify the Board about the offense of which you are accused. The Board will then conduct its own investigation, and your license may be in jeopardy.

What should I do next?

Your arrest has likely made you anxious and concerned for your future. If you have sought advice from friends and co-workers, you may have received conflicting information and questionable advice. Acting without sound counsel in this situation may result in a lifetime of regret.

To protect what is important to you -- namely your career as a nurse -- you certainly want guidance you can depend on, based on knowledge of Arizona licensing laws and years of experience defending nurses in front of the Board. Even if you have not been formally charged, having an attorney to assist you may prevent costly missteps.

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