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Nursing License Suspensions and a Nurse’s Rights

I have worked with many nurses who were surprised that their professional license can be suspended so easily and quickly. The fact is that the nursing board has all of the power in this situation. The board has awarded the nurse a nursing license and can also withdraw that license.

Immediate Suspensions

Certain allegations like drug use or a criminal charge can trigger an immediate nursing license suspension. The board’s primary goal in disciplining a nurse is to protect patients, and if they feel a nurse could be a “danger to the public”, they can suspend the nurse’s professional license for up to 90 days. The nurse will then need to prepare a strong defense in order to lift the suspension and go back to work.

This is a quote from the Louisiana State Board of Nursing’s Rules and Regulations for Registered Nurses:

“Emergency Action. If the board finds that public health, safety, and welfare requires emergency action and a finding to that effect is incorporated in its order, summary suspension of a license may be ordered by the executive director or designee pending proceedings for revocation or other action. Such proceedings shall be promptly instituted and determined at the next regularly scheduled board meeting.”

What a Nurse Can Do

You do have some recourse. If the board tries to take your license away, you have the right to hire a nursing attorney to defend you. You also have a right to subpoena witnesses and documents that can help you with your defense. You can present evidence in your favor at a formal hearing before the board. And if the Board renders a decision that is not in your favor, you can ask for a “judicial review.” The nursing board’s decision will then be evaluated by a judge in state court.

It is important to remember that the nursing board considers your nursing license to be a privilege, not a right. The hard truth is that the board can and will suspend your license with little notice. An experienced nursing license defense lawyer can help you fight the 90 day suspension and hopefully avoid a longer suspension or other more serious disciplinary actions such as license revocation.