3 ways the Arizona Nursing Board can Suspend Your License | Nurse Suspension
The Arizona State Board of Nursing (“Board”) protects the medical welfare of the people of Arizona. They do this by ensuring each professional who holds a license as a nurse in Arizona can practice safely. The Board can suspend a nurse’s license in a number of different ways.
Three Ways the Board Suspends a Nursing License
- Summary Suspension: A summary suspension can occur when the Board believes that the public health, safety or welfare imperatively requires emergency action necessitating the immediate suspension of a nurse’s license.
- ATD Discharge: The Alternative to Discipline program is a non-disciplinary, confidential monitoring program for nurses with substance abuse, mental health, or physical problems. A nurse who violates their ATD Agreement can have their license suspended immediately.
- Automatic Suspension from Probation Violation: If a nurse is currently completing a Stayed Suspension Consent Agreement their license can be automatically suspended for violation of the terms of the Consent Agreement.
Suspension Work Implications
If the Board suspends a nurse’s license; the nurse must immediately cease providing care as a nurse.
Filing an Appeal after a Nursing Board Meeting
The investigatory process and the appeal process for an Arizona Nursing Board Hearing work like this: The AZBON receives a complaint or initiates an investigation into the conduct of the nurse (like a ucna, lna, cna). Once the board receives a complaint or self-report they will then initiate an investigation (like if a patient in Phoenix files information putting a nurse certificate at risk). The purpose of this investigation is to give the AZBON evidence to make a decision on whether or not a nurse should face disciplinary action (for instance, due to reporting a misdemeanor charge or conviction). If the nurse receives an unfavorable decision it is at this point they can then file an appeal and request a hearing with the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearing. An Administrative Law Judge will then oversee the appeal and the nurse may need to attend a hearing. However, sometimes the investigation is automatically sent to a hearing or an informal settlement conference can be held.
Nursing Administrative Appeal and Hearing
Any professional nurse licensee may request a legal appeal of an Arizona State Board of Nursing disciplinary action to an administrative law judge with the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) which is located in Phoenix. In some instances, a case is sent automatically to OAH. The OAH hearing is conducted before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
The administrative process is not as formal as a trial but is similar. Each party presents evidence using documents or sworn testimony. Each party also gives an opening and closing argument which should explain why the judge should rule one way or the other. A nurse’s attorney can cross-examine witnesses and testify on their behalf. After it is completed, the ALJ reviews the transcripts, and evidence and makes a recommendation. However, the Board makes the decision to either accept, reject or modify the ALJ’s decision. If an individual feels there has been a mistake they can request a rehearing.
Arizona State Nursing License Suspension
Nurses contact our office and frequently ask our attorneys, does state law allow the Arizona State Board of Nursing to suspend a nurse’s license? The short answer is yes. The Board can issue a license suspension based upon ARS 41-1092.11. That statute states nurses can be suspended (and ultimately have their license revoked):
“B. Revocation, suspension, annulment or withdrawal of any license is not lawful unless, before the action, the agency provides the licensee with notice and an opportunity for a hearing in accordance with this article. If the agency finds that public health, safety, or welfare imperatively requires emergency action, and incorporates a finding to that effect in its order, the agency may order the summary suspension of a license pending proceedings for revocation or other action. These proceedings shall be promptly instituted and determined.”
Nursing Board Discipline
So, in short, yes. The Arizona Board of Nursing has the power to suspend your license if it determines you are an immediate threat to the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Some usual reasons for a nursing license suspension include:
Common Reasons a Nursing License is Suspended
- Diverting narcotics.
- Healthcare problems.
- Criminal issues (felony, misdemeanor).
- Past disciplinary issues.
- Substance abuse (alcohol, prescription medications, illegal drugs).
- Sexual misconduct.
- Mental health disorders necessitating immediate action.
Nurse Practice Disciplinary Actions
Nurses who hold a license or certification in Arizona can face disciplinary actions by the AZ Board of Nursing. If the Board determines formal disciplinary action is necessary it will happen after the completion of an investigation. It’s the job of the Board to review any complaint alleging a violation of the Arizona Nurse Practice Act and Arizona law. Thus, at an Arizona Nursing Board Meeting the Board will vote to determine the outcome of each investigation, thus, a defense attorney may be needed. The Board can vote on a non-disciplinary outcome or vote to offer the nurse formal discipline.
Arizona State Board of Nursing Non-Disciplinary Practice Actions
- CASE DISMISSAL: The Board may dismiss a complaint if they determine the information indicates there was not a violation of the rules of the Arizona Nurse Practice Act. This outcome is not available to the public.
- LETTER OF CONCERN: A letter from the Bd expressing concern that the nurse’s conduct was not ideal; however, the conduct does not necessarily violate the Nurse Practice Act or Bd policy and no further contact is needed. This will likely not affect future licensure or if the nurse wishes further their education in an advanced program. This is not shown on license verification.
- ADMINISTRATIVE PENALTY: The AZ State Bd of Nursing may impose an administrative penalty of not more than one thousand dollars with verified complaints. They may impose the penalty for any of the following (this is not an all-inclusive list):
- Failing to timely renew a nursing license while continuing to practice nursing services.
- Failing to contact the board in writing within thirty days after a change in address.
Unprofessional Conduct Consequences
- REVOCATION: If the Board revokes a nurse’s license the nurse will be unable to practice or get licensed again for a minimum of five years. After the five-year period of license revocation, the nurse will need to reapply for their license. If the nurse reapplies for licensure they must demonstrate the grounds for revocation (substance abuse, mental health problems, criminal convictions) has been rectified through an application program. This is a public document.
- VOLUNTARY SURRENDER: The nurse voluntarily gives up their license. The benefit of this voluntary consent is that the Board is usually willing to reduce the amount of time until a nurse can reapply. This is usually between two to three years.
- SUSPENSION: A suspension stops the nurse from practicing as a nurse. It prohibits any patient contact or services for a period of time until the Board lifts the suspension.
- PROBATION: The Board offers probation through a consent agreement. The consent agreement requires the nurse do certain things (drug testing, work supervision, counseling, continuing education). Alternatively, they may need to refrain from doing things (unsupervised nursing like home health, working under the nursing licensure compact, using alcohol, etc.) A request for the removal of probation will be needed.
- DECREE OF CENSURE: A decree of censure is the lowest level of formal discipline against a license or certificate. There are no probationary requirements. However, the action is on the website for five years for the public to inspect. A document removal will occur five years after signing.
- CIVIL PENALTY: This is similar to a Decree of Censure, however, the nurse can face fines (up to $1000 per violation). Like the degree of censure, a Civil Penalty is on the website for a period of five years.
Suspended or Revoked Nursing License
A misdemeanor criminal charge would likely not reach the threshold needed for the Board to initiate a summary suspension (such as a misdemeanor DUI or Disorderly Conduct charge).
So, for individuals who wish to file an appeal, it is crucial to retain qualified legal counsel to represent them. Having an attorney with experience working on your behalf means having the help you need to draft an appeal. It also means having an attorney on your side that will help to ensure all avenues of defense are explored. Having a complaint against you or working with a Board of Nursing Investigator is challenging enough. Our attorneys help you to protect your professional license and maneuver these complex legal proceedings.
Consultation with Chelle Law
If you’re interested in learning more about our Arizona Nursing Board Appeals services and how to protect your rights, set up a consultation with Chelle Law and our Arizona Nursing Attorney reach out to us today.