How Long Does an Average Investigation from the Arizona Nursing Board Last?
Arizona Nursing Board Investigation Length
A current investigation with the Arizona Board of Nursing is taking (on average) around 18 months from beginning to end. However, the speed with which the Board completes an investigation depends upon the case’s severity.
When assigned to an investigator, they give each case a priority level. They generally complete higher-priority level cases faster than lower-priority cases. Some cases are so severe that the Board can attempt to suspend a nurse’s license.
Some examples of low-priority cases would include:
- Low-level criminal charges
- Patient complaints
- Documentation errors
A summary suspension can occur when the Board believes that public health, safety, or welfare imperatively requires emergency action necessitating the immediate suspension of a nurse’s license.
Examples of actions that can lead to a summary suspension:
- Substance Abuse
- Sexual Misconduct
- Mental Health Concerns
- Refusal to Follow Board Order
Should You Have an Attorney?
So, Does Having an Attorney Make You Look Guilty to The Arizona Nursing Board? No, having an attorney represent you before the Arizona Board of Nursing does not make you look guilty. The right to counsel is a fundamental right for every nurse licensed in Arizona.
Licensing board defense attorneys focus on regulating occupational licenses handled by governmental boards. These attorneys work mainly in administrative law. A professional license defense attorney is a crucial part of the legal process in upholding an individual’s occupational licensing. These professionals provide services for individuals charged with unethical behavior or criminal charges and protect their right to work.
The Role of the Arizona Nursing Board Attorney
An occupational license defense lawyer steps in to represent you during these matters, and we can divide their key areas of focus can into three categories:
- Application Appeals: defending a person’s occupation application when denied.
- Unprofessional Conduct Defense: representing practicing professionals who have faced discipline because they’ve been accused of professional misconduct, unethical behavior, or crime.
- Hearings: If appealed, a nurse’s case will move forward to the Office of Administrative Hearings in front of an Administrative Law Judge
Suppose you’re interested in learning more about our Arizona Nursing Board Complaint services and how to protect your rights. Set up a consultation with Chelle Law and our Arizona Nursing Attorney. Reach out to us today.
Arizona Nursing Board Complaint
If you are a nurse in Arizona, you may have questions about how the Arizona Board of Nursing (AZBN) handles an Arizona Board of Nursing Complaint and investigation. A registered nurse (RN), nurse practitioner (NP), Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), or nursing programs may find themselves at the center of a complaint and or investigation of their license or certificate.
Complaints can come from a patient, employer, or even another nurse. While investigations can occur because of a criminal conviction, disciplinary action by another state’s nursing board, or the self-report of a substance abuse problem.
Arizona Nursing Board Investigations | Complaints Against a Nurse
After receiving a complaint or self-report, a nurse gets an Investigative Questionnaire and a notice from the Board requesting additional information and a response to allegations found in the complaint. From here, the Arizona Board of Nursing (AZBON) assigns an investigator to the complaint, and they begin to collect evidence.
The documents and evidence collected include the following:
- Patient medical records
- Employment files from the nurses’ employer and business
- Criminal records
- Interviews of people associated with the Board Complaint or nursing program. (These interviewees can include the patient, nursing director, colleagues, etc.)
Formal Written Notice
In Arizona, after the Board of Nursing receives a complaint, they will send a formal written notice to the nurse, also known as an Arizona Nursing Board Investigation Notice. This notice lets them know their case is under investigation.
The notice contains facts gathered by the investigator and the rules or statutes that the nurse possibly violated. The Board wants the nurse to explain why the Board shouldn’t take disciplinary action. After receiving their notice, the nurse should request a hearing within 30 days.
Arizona State Board of Nursing Investigation Notice
When a nurse receives a Board of Nursing Investigation Notice, it’s crucial for them to understand the process and how an attorney can help. When the Board of Nursing receives a complaint against a nurse, they will investigate the problem. It allows them to fully determine whether or not they need to discipline the practicing nurse.
Depending on the results of the investigation, the Board can suspend, limit or revoke the nurse’s license or certificate.
Arizona Board of Nursing Disciplinary Actions
If the Board determines formal disciplinary action is necessary (for instance, failing to report a misdemeanor charge or conviction), it will happen after the completion of an investigation. It’s the job of the Board to review any complaint alleging a violation within the scope of the Arizona Nurse Practice Act. Thus, at an Arizona Nursing Board meeting, the Board will vote to determine the outcome of each investigation.
The Board (they do not utilize a disciplinary committee) can vote on a non-disciplinary outcome (which is not generally public) or vote to offer the nurse formal discipline, such as:
- CASE DISMISSAL: The Arizona State Board of Nursing may dismiss a case if they determine there wasn’t a violation of the Arizona Nurse Practice Act.
- LETTER OF CONCERN: A letter from the Board expressing concern the nurse’s conduct wasn’t ideal. However, the behavior doesn’t necessarily violate the Nurse Practice Act.
- ADMINISTRATIVE PENALTY: The Board may impose an administrative penalty to nurses of no more than $1,000.
- REVOCATION: If the Board revokes a nurse’s license, the nurse will be unable to practice for a minimum of five years. After the five-year period has ended, the nurse will need to reapply for their license. Should the nurse reapply for their license, they’ll need to demonstrate that the grounds for revocation (substance abuse, mental health problems, criminal convictions, etc.) are no longer an issue.
- VOLUNTARY SURRENDER: The nurse voluntarily gives up their license. The benefit of a voluntary surrender is that the Board is usually willing to reduce the time until a nurse can reapply. Usually, this is between two to 3 years.
- SUSPENSION: Suspension stops the nurse from practicing until the Board of Nursing lifts the suspension.
- PROBATION: The nurse receives an Arizona Nursing Board Probation through a Consent Agreement. The nurse must do certain things (drug testing, work supervision, counseling, continuing education). Alternatively, the nurse must refrain from doing things (unsupervised nursing like home health, working under the Nursing Licensure Compact, using alcohol, etc.).
- DECREE OF CENSURE: A decree of censure is the lowest level of formal discipline. There are no probationary requirements, but they will list the Order on the website for five years.
- CIVIL PENALTY: Similar to a Decree of Censure, the nurse can be fined (up to $1000 per violation). The Civil Penalty is listed for five years as well.
State Board Complaint Appeal
Once the Arizona Board of Nursing receives all the necessary documents, statements, and evidence, the Board will review the case and vote on a decision. The Board of Nursing members may also close the case or file formal charges.
They will refer the investigation to an administrative hearing if they file formal charges (for instance, due to the denial of a nurse’s application for licensure). They hold the Arizona Nursing Board Appeals and hearing in front of an administrative law judge at the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings.
What Does the Arizona State Board of Nursing Do?
The published Mission Statement of the Arizona Board of Nursing states:
“The mission of the Arizona State Board of Nursing is to protect and promote the welfare of the public by ensuring that each person holding a nursing license or certificate is competent to practice safely. The Board fulfills its mission through the regulation of the practice of nursing and the approval of nursing education programs. The mission, derived from the Nurse Practice Act, supersedes the interest of any individual, the nursing profession, or any special interest group.”
AZ State Nursing Board License
The Arizona State Board licenses and disciplines the following:
- Certified Nursing Assistants
- Licensed Nursing Assistants
- Licensed Practical Nurses
- Registered Nurses
- Advanced Practice:
- Nurse Practitioner
- Certified Nurse Midwife
- Clinical Nurse Specialist
- School Nurse
Arizona Nurse Practice Act
The 5-Year Plan of the Arizona State Board of Nursing includes the following:
- Assure governance framework supports the Board’s mission and vision
- License/certify only qualified nurses and nursing assistants that assures public safety
- Investigate unsafe or incompetent nurses and licensed/certified nursing assistants; remediate or remove them from practice
- Review and approve or sanction nursing education programs consistent with Board rules
- Ensure nursing regulations are up-to-date and reflect state of art & science of practice.
Arizona Nursing Board License Renewal
Having a professional license means renewing it on a regular basis. This applies to RNs, LPNs, and other nursing licenses. In the case of nurses, there are strict requirements a nurse must meet and keep track of in order to keep their license with the Arizona State Board of Nursing. Perhaps the most important requirement is remembering renewal dates as failing to renew on time can have serious consequences.
Nursing License Renewal
APRNs, RN, and LPNs must apply every four years to renew their license. The sooner a nurse renews their license, the less expensive it is. For example, a nurse who renews their license on time (by April 1) pays a $160 fee. Should they decide to wait on renewing, or if there is a delay, and they renew by May 1, the fee becomes $210.
Each month that there is a lapse in renewing the license, there is an additional late fee of $50. This fee caps out at $200.
If the license fails to be renewed by August 1, it will expire.
Once a nurse decides to renew their license, they must include a verified statement with their application for renewal. This statement declares whether or not the nurse has been convicted of a felony. If there is a conviction, it must also include the date of discharge from the sentence. After submitting the above and having it approved for renewal, the nurse will get an active renewal license for the next four years.
Nurse License Compact
Arizona is a compact nursing state, which means they belong to the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact. There are several member states, and if you are a resident of Arizona and practice in Arizona, you can use your license in any state that is also a member of the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact.
Can a Nurse Continue to Work While Under Investigation?
Yes, a licensed nurse in Arizona can continue to work while under investigation by the Arizona Board of Nursing. If an employer were to verify an Arizona nurse on NURSYS (the national database verifying nurse licensure), the license would show that the nurse is currently under investigation. The only time a nurse’s license would indicate an investigation would be if the Arizona Nursing Board formally disciplined the nurse.
Consultation with Chelle Law
If you’re interested in learning more about our Arizona Nursing Board Complaint services and how to protect your rights, set up a consultation with Chelle Law and our Arizona Nursing Attorney reach out to us today.