The Texas Board of Nursing (BON) is the agency tasked with regulating the practice of nursing in Texas. The Board “protects the public from unsafe nursing practice, provides approval for more than 200 nursing education programs, issues licenses to more than 27,000 nurses per year” and provides nursing practice and education guidance to more than 350,000 currently licensed nurses practicing in Texas. The BON also conducts investigations of complaints and adjudicates complaints.
The BON receives more than 16,000 complaints each year. When a complaint is received it is first reviewed to determine: whether there is sufficient information to ascertain the nurse’s identity, whether BON has jurisdiction, whether the alleged incidents would constitute a violation of the Nursing Practice Act (NPA), and whether the complaint should be referred to another agency or referred to the Texas Peer Assistance Program for Nurses (TPAPN) if the complaint is related to substance use or mental health.
When the BON has jurisdiction and the allegations, as stated, would constitute a violation of the NPA, then it conducts an investigation and adjudicates the complaint.
Investigatory Process of the Texas Board of Nursing
If the Texas Board of Nursing opens an investigation against you, it will provide you with due process, meaning:
- You will be notified of the investigation and the allegations (unless notifying you would jeopardize the investigation).
- You will be given the right to respond to and defend yourself against the allegations, and to show compliance with the Nursing Practice Act (NPA).
- The matter will be resolved through a fair and impartial process.
- Due process also includes the right to have an attorney represent you through all stages of the investigatory process and complaint resolution disciplinary process.
- You have right to appeal a Board decision.
As soon as you are notified of a BON investigation opened against you, you should hire an experienced Nursing license defense attorney to help you best respond to the allegations. Having an attorney review the allegations of misconduct from the start helps ensure the most favorable outcome in your case.
According to the Board, complaint investigations typically take five to twelve months to complete. You and the complainant will be notified periodically of the status of the investigation. Also, it is important for you to know that the identity of the complainant is kept confidential throughout the investigatory process.
During the investigation, relevant evidence is obtained. The investigator may interview witnesses, obtain court or police records or personal information, such as your medical records, obtain and review patient records, obtain and review employer policies and procedures, and consider standards of care. The majority of most BON investigations are conducted through the mail and over the phone, though on-side investigations are occasionally conducted.
At this stage you will be given the opportunity to respond in writing to the Board. Your initial response to the Board are critical and will play a significant role in the outcome of your case. This is your first chance to defend your licenses. It is your chance to tell your side of the events and to show compliance with the Nursing Practice Act. Your Nursing License defense attorney can help you craft initial responses that properly address each allegation and responses that do not unwittingly give an admission of guilt.
Reviewing Evidence & Making a Determination
Once all relevant evidence has been obtained, the BON investigations team reviews the evidence to determine whether or not a violation of the NPA occurred. If the investigations team finds that you did not violation the NPA, then the case is closed.
If the case is closed, then the complaint and all evidence will either be expunged immediately from your file or expunged after being retained for a specific period of time in accord with the BON’s retention policies. Closed cases in which the file is retained may be reopened if additional evidence or complaints are received before the file is expunged.
If the investigations team finds that you did violate the NPA, then the case will proceed to the Informal Settlement Process. The majority of complaint investigations are resolved through information settlement. Cases that are unable to settle informally will proceed to formal, contested case resolution at the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH).
Defend Yourself Against A Complaint Filed with the Texas Board of Nursing
If you have been notified of a complaint filed against you with the Texas Board of Nursing, BERTOLINO LLP can help. We are experienced BON license defense attorneys and we know how to navigate BON’s complaint process. We are prepared to represent you at any legal hearing or proceeding regarding your professional license.
Our law firm helps professionals, like you, keep their licenses when those licenses are under attack by a state agency or board.
BERTOLINO LLP represents licensed professionals across the entire State of Texas. If you are facing disciplinary action from a professional licensing board, contact us today or call (512) 717-5432 and schedule a case evaluation.