Arizona Nursing Board Investigations | Complaints Against a Nurse
After receiving a complaint or self-report, a nurse receives an Investigative Questionnaire and a notice from the Board requesting additional information as well as 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:
- 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.)
Arizona State Board of Nursing Investigation Notice
When a nurse receives a Board of Nursing Investigation Notice it’s important 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 launch an investigation into the problem. This 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.
Formal Written Notice
After receiving a complaint, the Board of Nursing will send a formal written notice to the nurse also known as an Arizona Nursing Board Investigation Notice. This notice lets him or her know their case is under investigation. The notice contains facts that have been gathered by the investigator as well as the rules or statutes that were 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.
State Board Complaint Appeal
Once the Arizona Board of Nursing receives all the necessary documents and statements, as well as any evidence, the Board will review the case and vote on a decision. The Board of Nursing members may also choose to close the case or file formal charges. If they file formal charges (for instance, due to the denial of a nurse’s application for licensure), they will refer the investigation to an administrative hearing. This Arizona Nursing Board Appeals and hearing is then held in front of an administrative law judge at the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings.
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 Aizona 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 conduct 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 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 amount of time until a nurse can reapply. Usually, this is between two to 3 years.
- SUSPENSION: Suspension stops the nurse from practicing for a period of time until the Board of Nursing lifts the suspension.
- PROBATION: Arizona Nursing Board Probation is offered through a Consent Agreement. It requires the nurse to do certain things (drug testing, work supervision, counseling, continuing education). Or 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 the Order will be listed on the website for a five year period.
- CIVIL PENALTY: Similar to a Decree of Censure, but the nurse can be fined (up to $1000 per violation). The Civil Penalty is listed for a period of five years as well.
How Long Does an Investigation Last?
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 an investigation is completed is dependent upon the severity of the case. Each case, when assigned to an investigator, is given a priority level. Higher priority level cases are generally completed 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
Nursing License Renewal
Every four years, APRN, RN, LPN’s must submit an application 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 fee of $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. For each month 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 that is good for the next four years.
Nurse License Compact
Arizona Nurses can get a nursing license that’s good for practicing nursing in other states. This can be beneficial as it allows for more job opportunities for the individual. The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) allows for the recognition of nursing licenses between the states who are members of this compact in the United States. The NLC allows nurses to practice in more than one state without needing additional licenses.
Consultation at 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.