Responding to an Arizona Nursing Board Subpoena
How should someone respond to a subpoena from the Arizona Board of Nursing? Any administrative agency in Arizona, including the boards, has broad subpoena power, meaning the subpoenas that they send out are enforceable, and the statute does cover how and when someone should respond to a subpoena from a healthcare professional regulatory board, which is what the Board of Nursing is here. So, if you receive a subpoena from the Arizona Board of Nursing, first, you need to look at what they’re specifically asking for. And then, you need to think about the repercussions if you just ignore it or choose not to send the documents that are requested.
Nursing Board Subpoena
If you’re a nurse, well, more specifically, if you’re a nurse practitioner or I guess a CRNA and you receive a subpoena from the nursing board, then you’re going to have to respond to it. They have broad authority to request the document. There are essentially no objections that an NP or CRNA can make. Now, why didn’t it include an RN? No RN has custodial power over any medical records or even their employment file for that matter. So, an RN would essentially never receive a subpoena from the board, whereas an NP could or should be the owner of many of their own medical records. Now, if an NP is an employee, even though they may be the one that provides care to a patient who has filed a complaint or may be subject to the complaint in some manner, the employer is the owner of the record.
And so, even if the NP were to receive a subpoena, ultimately it would be the organization’s decision whether to send it or not. If an NP, let’s say, owns their own practice, and then gets a subpoena from the Board of Nursing and they just refuse to respond to it, that could open up the NP to some disciplinary action. Now, if you’re a facility and you receive a subpoena from the Board of Nursing, once again, they do have the power to send out effective subpoenas. But as someone who has represented probably close to a thousand nurses at this point, I know for a fact that many facilities just completely ignore the Board of Nursing when they receive a subpoena, especially at the jails for some reason.
Repercussions of Ignoring a Subpoena
And what could happen to them? Well, this is just my experience, although I probably have more experience with this than any other attorney in the state, what normally happens is the nursing board will send out a subpoena. If it’s not responded to in any way, they’ll send out a second request. If it’s not responded to again, they may send out a third request, and then at that point, if there is no response, they generally just move forward with an investigation without any of the documents. At least in my experience, once again, I’ve never seen them take steps to enforce a subpoena that wasn’t responded to, either by going to a court and giving some order or something like that. It just generally doesn’t happen.
Now, you must think about what type of potential disciplinary action a board could take against the organization or specifically the people of the organization. If this is, as I said before, an NP, self-owned practice, then the board could have authority and take disciplinary action against the NP for refusing to respond to a subpoena. If they send a subpoena to a mental health organization that has some inpatient facilities and the facility says, you know what? We’re not sending any of the mental records assigned to this, there are really no nurses that have ownership, capacity, or anything like that. And therefore, it’s unlikely that the board is going to take any additional action. I guess if there is some extremely hot-button case that maybe is getting some publicity and the board absolutely needs a document, they may take some steps to get a court order to enforce the subpoena request, but in my experience, they generally just move on if an organization hasn’t responded to their subpoena.
Contact Arizona Defense Attorney Chelle Law
Over the years, medical practitioners have been subjected to extreme scrutiny by the Health Professional Regulatory Board (32-3201). Most of them don’t know how they can respond, especially when subjected to medical records requests through subpoenas.
As a physician working in Arizona, you must work with an experienced Arizona defense attorney. It’s the only way you’ll be able to protect your rights and ensure that medical records are not used to subject you and your career to unfair treatment.
At Chelle Law, we have experienced defense attorneys ready to listen to your concerns.