Whether you bounce out of bed at the first alarm or drag yourself to work after hitting the snooze button a dozen times, you likely reach a point in most shifts where you remember why you chose nursing as your profession. Those moments of gratification and reward can make the effort worthwhile and renew your commitment to giving quality care to your patients.
Nevertheless, when you received notification that the Arizona State Board of Nursing was initiating an investigation into a complaint against you, you may have felt demoralized and even angry. The biggest question on your mind may be, “What happens now?”
Steps in a board investigation
A disciplinary board investigation is something most nurses dread. Since anyone can file a complaint against you, it is difficult to predict when the board may launch such an investigation, so learning that you are the subject of one may catch you off guard. Understanding the process can help you prepare for the role you play in the investigation.
As soon as the board receives a complaint, they follow a process that is already in place. If the board decides that the complaint demonstrates a violation of nursing laws, the investigation will begin. You can expect an investigator to examine every aspect of the situation, including patient charts, medical records and your personnel file. An investigator will likely interview you and your co-workers. Under these circumstances, advocates for nurses recommend that you do the following:
- Document and organize every piece of information that will benefit your defense.
- Respond to deadlines in a timely manner.
- Show up for any meetings, assessments or classes the board requires you to attend.
- Obtain and follow the advice of an attorney.
In most instances, the board may proceed without a hearing if you and your attorney decide it’s best to negotiate disciplinary actions or alternatives. Otherwise, you will face a hearing during which the board will examine the evidence-based on Arizona’s standard of proof.
Your rights when your future is on the line
You can be assured that the Arizona State Board of Nursing has an attorney to advise on every move the Board makes. In some cases, that attorney may even be the attorney general of the state. Shouldn’t you have the same advocacy for your cause? You have every right to seek legal representation at any time after you learn that someone has filed a complaint against you.
Your professional license, your career, your reputation, and your future are at stake. Having an attorney, especially one who has extensive experience defending nurses in front of an investigative board, means you will also have sound advice about the options that will best benefit you.