The Board of Nursing Complaint Process
The Texas BON receives more than 16,000 complaints each year, but not all complaints result in an investigation or discipline. The BON will disregard complaints and not even begin an investigation for the following types of complaints:
- Insufficient information about the identity of the nurse
- Minor incidents
- Issues outside of the BON’s jurisdiction
- Issues that do not violate the Texas Nursing Practices Act
If the complaint merits an investigation, the BON obtains evidence surrounding the complaint to determine whether the nurse violated the law or rules. BON investigators can interview witnesses, obtain court, police, or medical records, obtain employer policy handbooks, and even perform site visits. A complete investigation can take five to 12 months, depending on the circumstances.
The BON will close the case if the evidence shows that the nurse did not commit a violation. Depending on the situation, the BON may immediately expunge the complaint and all information related to the complaint from the nurse’s file. The BON also can opt to retain the information in the nurse’s file for a specific period, as per BON record retention policies.
However, if the BON determines that the nurse has committed a violation that necessitates some form of discipline, it will notify the nurse of the complaint and give them the chance to respond.
Informal Settlement Process
During the complaint and discipline process, the BON may offer an informal settlement to the nurse who is the subject of the complaint. This settlement typically is in the form of a proposed agreed order that contains:
- Investigative findings
- Conclusions of law
- Any other requirements for the nurse to safely practice
You should always have your defense attorney review any informal settlement you receive from the BON to ensure that you fully understand its consequences for you and your career, both now and in the future.
If you agree with the proposed Board Order, you can sign it before a notary and submit it to the BON, which must review and accept the settlement. In most cases, the BON accepts the settlement, but they can vote to modify or reject it if appropriate. If the BON accepts the settlement, it becomes an effective final order that all parties receive. These settlements typically are public information and become a part of your permanent licensing record.
If you disagree with the proposed Board Order, you can suggest revisions, which the BON may or may not accept. In many cases, these discussions occur during informal settlement conferences, but it can also be discussed through one-on-one negotiations. Various BON staff members attend the Informal Settlement Conference (ISC) with you and your attorney to discuss and reach a settlement. At the end of the ISC, you usually receive notice of BON’s recommended disposition of your case. You may receive a new proposed settlement offer after one of these conferences, to which you may or may not agree.
Formal Settlement Process
If you and the BON are unable to settle your case, or if you do not respond to attempts by the BON to contact you, the BON can file Formal Charges against you. These charges require you to respond in writing; if you fail to respond in writing, the BON can move forward with the revocation of your nursing license by default. As a result, you must always respond to notifications from the BON and take steps to defend yourself against any charges.
If you file answers to the formal charges, the BON will schedule a formal disciplinary hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). If you and the BON cannot settle the case before your hearing, BON staff will present evidence during the evidentiary hearing, and you will have a chance to present testimony and other evidence, as well. The ALJ will then present a Proposal for Decision (PFD) to the BON that contains the ALJ’s findings of fact and conclusions of law. The BON then decides to implement the sanctions recommended in the PFD or close the case and take no further action.
Get Help Defending Your Nursing License Today
A disciplinary complaint to the Texas Board of Nursing can have significant adverse effects on your career that often will become a permanent part of your licensing record. However, you may be able to avoid these damaging consequences with the right type of defense from the outset of your case. Contact the experienced nursing license defense attorneys at Bertolino, LLP, so that we can begin investigating your case. You can call our office at (512) 476-5757 or visit us online to get more information about the services we can offer you.