In Missouri, nurses are subject to discipline under the Nursing Practices Act, Mo. Rev. Stat. §335. The Missouri State Board of Nursing is empowered by this Act to license nursing professionals in the state, and may also impose discipline for failing to adhere to the standards of the profession. Violations of the statute include the following:
- Use or unlawful possession of any controlled substance;
- Being found guilty of a crime;
- Incompetency, gross negligence, or repeated negligence;
- Misconduct in practice;
- Habitual intoxication, and;
- “Any conduct that constitutes a serious danger to the health, safety, or welfare of a patient or the public.”
Once the alleged act has been reported by an employer, and the Board has done an investigation, if the Board finds the conduct worthy of discipline, it begins internal investigation processes and proposes discipline. This discipline can range from a “letter of concern” all the way to revocation of a nurse’s license. The most common disciplines are probation (not to exceed five years by statute) and suspension (not to exceed three years by statute.) All discipline, other than a letter of concern, is a matter of public record and may affect your licensure in other states as well.
The Board’s process can seem very daunting, and a nurse confronted with an allegation of misconduct that may lead to discipline should take these allegations seriously.
An individual is informed of a Board of Nursing investigation first by mail, alleging some sort of misconduct. The Board will typically either request a statement as to the nurse’s alleged actions, or present a set of facts and include a “Settlement Agreement” and request that the nurse sign it and accept the proposed discipline.
What Should You Do Next After The Allegations?
In either case, it is at this point that contacting an attorney with The Crone Law Firm is most important. An attorney will be able to speak with you, investigate the facts, and provide a statement for you or properly respond to the “settlement” by speaking with attorneys for the Board. It may be that the attorneys for the Board are agreeable to a lesser amount of probation than initially demanded, but would not accept if you were not represented yourself. Many cases end simply based on an agreement reached by all parties, and fewer restrictions on your practice than were initially proposed.
Should this not occur, the next step of a disciplinary matter involves the filing of a complaint before the Administrative Hearing Commission (“AHC.”) The AHC handles all administrative matters, such as a Missouri State Board of Nursing disciplinary case. Once a complaint is filed before the AHC, the matter is similar to that of a regular lawsuit in a normal court. This would include a formal hearing, where the Board would present evidence and the nurse accused of misconduct would present their defense. Here, it would be determined if a cause for discipline existed, and what the discipline should entail. An attorney will help you through this process and attempt to resolve the matter to get you the best possible outcome. These decisions may also be appealed in a standard court.
It’s Important To Keep Yourself and Your Nursing License Protected
As a nurse, you dedicated your life to the service of others and a restriction on your nursing license would be devastating. Navigating the waters of a disciplinary action before the Missouri State Board of Nursing can be a daunting task that could take years to resolve, and distract you from the work that you do to help others. We at The Crone Law Firm will fight for you every step of the way. Let us fight for you so that you can fight for your patients.