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.)
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.
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 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.
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.
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 ends, the nurse must 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 Board offers the nurse 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.
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 they complete 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
Nursing License Renewal
APRNs, RNs, and LPNs must submit an application to renew their license every four years. 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 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 renewal application. 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 Nurses can get a nursing license that’s good for practicing nursing in other states. It can be beneficial as it allows for more job opportunities for the individual. The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) recognizes 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 additional licenses.
Consultation at Chelle Law
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.