The Texas Board of Nursing (BON) is the regulatory agency that licenses qualified registered nurses to practice as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), including nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and nurse midwives. BON is tasked with enforcing the Texas Nursing Practice Act and the BON Rules and Regulations by setting minimum standards for nursing practice and nursing education, conducting investigations of complaints against nurses, and adjudicating complaints.
Complaints Filed Against Nurses
The Texas BON’s primary objective is to ensure the protection of the public. Further, the BON receives more than 16,000 complaints each year. Many of the complaints received have insufficient information about the nurses’ identity or do not fall under the Board’s jurisdiction. The complaints that fall under BON’s jurisdiction and have sufficient information will be investigated to determine if a violation of the Nursing Practices Act (NPA) occurred.
BON Provides Due Process
The BON provides due process to a nurse when a complaint is filed against him or her, giving notice of the investigation and allegations. The nurse is given the opportunity to respond to the alleged conduct and to show compliance with the NPA. During all stages of the investigation process, nurses have the right to be represented by an attorney.
After an investigation, the BON may either close the case or pursue disciplinary action, such as remedial education, fines, warning, reprimand, suspension, probation, or license revocation.
Grounds for Disciplinary Action
There are a number of reasons that a nurse may be subject to disciplinary action by the BON. Any Violation of the NPA or any board rule or regulation not inconsistent with the NPA is grounds for disciplinary action, including license suspension or revocation. Further, the NPA contains a section on Grounds for Disciplinary Action. This article will cover only a few of the grounds listed.
Alcohol or Drug Use
The “intemperate use of alcohol or drugs that the Board determines endangers or could endanger a patient” is grounds for disciplinary action. (Tex. Occ. Code Ann §301.452(b)(9).) Per the NPA, “Intemperate use” includes “practicing nursing or being on duty or on call while under the influence of alcohol or drug.” (Tex. Occ. Code Ann §301.452(a).)
Further, the disciplinary authority of the BON includes the right to require a person to “abstain from the consumption of alcohol or the use of drugs and submit to random periodic screening for alcohol or drug use.” (Texas Occupations Code §301.543.)
In its policy regarding substance use disorders and other alcohol and drug related conduct, the nursing board states that it believes that substance use disorders are treatable conditions, and nurses who are successfully in recovery may be able to safely provide care to patients.
Felony or Misdemeanor Crimes
A conviction for a felony or misdemeanor crime involving moral turpitude constitutes grounds for BON disciplinary action. (Tex. Occ. Code Ann §301.452(b)(3).) Also, grounds for disciplinary action include:
- Placement on deferred adjudication community supervision or deferred disposition for a crime involving moral turpitude;
- Conduct that results in the revocation of probation imposed because of conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude.
“Moral turpitude” is conduct that is considered contrary to our standards of justice or good morals and generally includes crimes that involve fraud, deceit, or deliberate violence.
Other Grounds for Disciplinary Action
The NPA lists a number of other grounds for disciplinary action, including but not limited to:
- Failure to care adequately for a patient or to conform to the minimum standards of acceptable nursing practice in a manner that, in the Board’s opinion, exposes a patient or other person unnecessarily to risk of harm.
- Lack of fitness to practice because of a mental or physical health condition that could result in injury to a patient or the public.
- Directly or indirectly aiding or abetting an unlicensed person in connection with the unauthorized practice of nursing.
- Unprofessional or dishonorable conduct that, in the board’s opinion, is likely to deceive, defraud, or injure a patient or the public.
When Your Nursing License is at Risk
You have worked for years to become a licensed nurse in Texas. If you are under investigation by the Texas BON, your license, reputation, and career are on the line. It’s critically important that you take the complaint seriously from the start and address the allegations head-on.
For more information, please review The Do’s and Don’ts of Appearing Before the Texas Board of Nursing (BON) and our FREE eBook When Your License is Under Attack: A Survival Guide for Texas Professionals.
Our law firm helps professionals like you keep their licenses when those licenses are under attack by a state agency or board.
If you have received a licensing complaint, BERTOLINO LLP can help. We represent licensed professionals across the entire State of Texas. Our honest, experienced attorneys will fight aggressively on behalf of your license and reputation.
If you have questions or need to speak with an attorney about professional license defense, please call (512) 476-5757 or click here to contact us.