What Crimes Should a Nurse Report to The Arizona Nursing Board? | Criminal Reporting
In reporting a misdemeanor, people often ask, what crimes should a nurse report to the Arizona Nursing Board?
According to § ARS 32-3208, it requires that licensees and applicants for licensure report misdemeanor criminal charges involving conduct that may affect patient safety or a felony to the health professional’s regulatory board within ten working days after the charge is filed.
It is illegal to commit a felony without reporting it within ten days of committing the crime.
The following types of misdemeanor or other criminal offenses/charges are crimes that the Board has determined to be reportable according to A.RS § 32-3208:
- Assault and Related Offenses
- Theft and Related Offenses
- Fraud, Deceit, and Related Offenses
- Abuse, Neglect, Exploitation of a Child or Vulnerable Adult, and Related Offenses
- Sexual and Related Offenses
- Drug and/or Alcohol Related Offenses
- Arson and Related Offenses
- Animal Abuse, Cruelty, and Related Offenses
Failure to report a reportable criminal charge within ten business days violates the Arizona Nurse Practice Act and could result in disciplinary action.
DUI Criminal History
Nurses who contact our office frequently ask our attorneys if state law allows a nursing professional with a DUI legal charge or conviction to get a license with the Arizona State Board of Nursing.
The short answer is yes.
An Arizona Nurse DUI will not necessarily prevent a nurse from obtaining a license or a career in the health field. However, the Board (which handles all complaints) has a public policy (updated as of September 2020) on their website which covers the details of what circumstances nursing professionals with a case that resulted in a felony DUI criminal conviction can get a license.
Nursing License Criminal Consequences
This policy does not apply to criminal conduct involving misdemeanor DUI charges or convictions. Once a nursing professional applies for a license to practice with the Arizona State Board of Nursing, they need to disclose any felony DUI criminal court convictions (from previous years) on their application.
A nurse must report a felony DUI no matter how much time or years have passed since the conviction or case.
The AZ Board may also ask about past DUI misdemeanor criminal charges or cases that resulted in a conviction. The Board does this to ensure a nurse can perform safe patient care and have safe, direct contact with patients or other providers.
Disclosing a DUI on an Application for Nurses
Suppose a nursing license applicant (like an RN) is not required to disclose a legal misdemeanor DUI. In that case, the AZ Board can still initiate an investigation based on fingerprint background check results.
The Board will then contact the nursing professional and initiate an investigation in their practice utilizing the law of the Arizona Nurse Practice Act (current as of October 2020).
This license investigation determines whether the nurse is a danger to the public, has any medical or mental health problems, and whether the nurse has been rehabilitated since the criminal misdemeanor DUI or DUI charges occurred.
The Board wants to know whether the applicant can provide safe nursing care with a past criminal case involving alcohol or substance abuse.
Reporting a DUI Charge to the Arizona Board of Nursing
When a police officer issues a citation or arrest (which usually includes official charges) to a person, Arizona law requires that the nursing professional report any criminal misdemeanor charge that may affect patient safety to the Arizona State Board within ten business days.
Nurses must report all felony charges. Notably, some jurisdictions will only charge an individual if someone files a complaint with the court. The AZ Board has a page on its healthcare website which lists what misdemeanor charges the nurse must report.
The Board then reviews the investigators’ report to determine if any healthcare disciplinary action is necessary. It applies to both licensees and applicants for licensure.
It is considered unprofessional conduct if a nursing professional receives a charge from a police department or court and fails to self-report it within ten working days. The person can end up with disciplinary action and/or a fine. Failure to self-report can result in additional disciplinary actions.
Criminal Charges for Nurses with the Board
When a professional applies to the Arizona State Board of Nursing, they must disclose a felony criminal court conviction (and other similar offenses) on their application. A nurse must self-report a felony no matter how much time or years have passed since the conviction.
After self-reporting occurs, the Board contacts the nurse and initiates an investigation utilizing the law of the AZ Nurse Practice Act. The investigation helps to determine whether the nursing professional is a danger to the public, has any medical or mental health problems and whether the nurse has rehabilitated since the criminal incident occurred. Simply put, the Nursing Board wants to know whether the RN, LPN, or NP applicant can provide safe nursing care.
Arizona Nursing Mandatory Reporting
Current nurses who have received a conviction (or have been charged) since the time of licensing must self-report to the AZ Board of Nursing Examiners. When self-reporting, remember to include all facts on the criminal charges.
No matter the type of felony, you will be better off self-reporting to avoid severe penalties (like continuing education). These penalties could appear on your license verification with the scope of the offenses listed, including some details.
Can a Felon Become a Nurse in Arizona?
People frequently ask our attorneys whether state law allows a nursing professional with a felony criminal conviction to get a license with the Arizona State Board of Nursing.
The short answer is yes.
A past felony for nurses will not necessarily prevent a nurse from obtaining a license or a career in the medical field. However, the Board has a public policy on its website covering the details of under what circumstances a nurse can get licensed while having a case that resulted in a criminal conviction.
Arizona State Nurse Felony Conviction Bar
Suppose a nurse discloses a criminal conviction on their application. The Board policy and state law hold Arizona nursing professionals are ineligible to apply for a license or certificate with the State Board of Nursing—until three years after the absolute discharge of the court sentence.
An absolute discharge from the sentence is the completion of any sentence, including imprisonment, probation, parole, community supervision, or any form of court supervision (no committee instructions are given).
Of note, if enough time has passed since the conviction, state law may allow a nurse to have the conviction reduced to a misdemeanor (due to an undesignated designation), dismissed, expunged, set aside, or something similar.
The bar of three years may not apply. In this instance, a nursing professional can contact an attorney to assist the applicant in obtaining these reductions if they haven’t already pursued these options in the state where their case occurred.
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.
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 Nursing Board Discipline
When a nurse faces a complaint or investigation by their nursing board, they may face the Arizona Board of Nursing disciplinary actions. Facing disciplinary action can have vast repercussions on a nursing career. It can include license probation, suspension, or revocation.
It can also jeopardize employment. A nurse under investigation can face termination at their current job after receiving a complaint or after the Board initiates an investigation.
AZ Nurses Complaint
Any discipline a nurse receives from the Arizona Board of Nursing depends upon the violation. There’s a whole range of disciplines that can occur. Not only can a license be revoked, but there can also be a denial of certification or licensure. There can also be civil penalties. Sometimes the board requires a voluntary surrender of the license or a probation period.
Nurse Administrative Appeal and Hearing
Any professional nurse licensee may request the AZ Nursing Board Appeals legal appeal of board discipline to an administrative law judge with the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), located in Phoenix. In some instances, a case is sent automatically to OAH. The OAH conducts the hearing 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 lawyer can cross-examine witnesses and testify on his or their behalf. After completing it, the ALJ reviews the transcripts and evidence and makes a recommendation. However, the Board decides to accept, reject or modify the ALJ’s decision. If an individual feels there has been a mistake, they can request a rehearing.
Consultation with Chelle Law
The attorneys at Chelle Law assist nurses with interpreting Board policy (generally on the Board website). Our attorneys help the healthcare workers and nurses with their application to show the Board that the nursing professional isn’t a danger to the health, safety, and welfare of the public and can provide safe patient care.
If you’re interested in learning more about Arizona Nursing Board Criminal History laws and how to protect your rights, set up a consultation with Chelle Law and our Arizona Nursing Attorney. Reach out to us today.