Nurse Attorney Offering Professional License Defense Before the Maryland Board of Nursing
Nurses are the backbone of Maryland's health care system. From registered nurses and nurse practitioners to midwives and electrologists, the nursing profession encompasses a wide range of critical medical services that directly impact patient care. For this reason, the State of Maryland strictly licenses and regulates who may work as a nurse.
If you are experiencing issues with your nursing license or have been accused of professional misconduct, it is vital to speak with an experienced Maryland nurse lawyer and nursing license defense attorney to ensure your rights and reputation are upheld.
Not every licensing case can be settled. If you believe that you have been falsely accused of a violation, you have every right to challenge the attack on your license.
The Maryland Board of Nursing (MBON) is the state agency specifically charged with licensing matters in this area. It has the power to grant, deny, revoke, or suspend a nursing license, as well as to impose a variety of disciplinary measures on active members of the profession. If you are a nurse forced to defend your license or otherwise facing discipline before the MBON, a Maryland nurse attorney at The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, L.L.C. can help.
When Can the Maryland Board of Nursing Suspend Your License?
Under Maryland's Nurse Practice Act (NPA), there are dozens of potential grounds for the Maryland Board of Nursing (MBON) to deny, revoke, or suspend a license. Some of these grounds relate to actual malpractice in the provision of patient care. Others involve technical failures to follow certain filing or regulatory requirements. Rest assured, the MBON takes all of these grounds seriously, and if you are accused of any type of violation, you need to take prompt action in defense of your license (or application for a license).
At the Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, L.L.C., we can assist you if the MBON accuses you of any of the following violations under the NPA:
- Engaging in an act of fraud or deception in connection with using, obtaining, or attempting to obtain a nursing license;
- Lack of good character, as demonstrated by a conviction for a felony to a crime involving “moral turpitude”;
- Intentionally filing a false report involving a person under your nursing care;
- Making false statements on an employment application;
- Failing to file any medical record required by law;
- Obstructing, preventing, or otherwise inducing someone else not to file a required medical record;
- Providing any medical services that exceed the scope of your particular nursing license;
- Providing any professional services while under the influence of alcohol while using a narcotic or “controlled dangerous substance”, or any prescription medication “in excess of therapeutic amounts”;
- Having a diagnosed “substance abuse disorder” of any kind, or demonstrating an addiction to any narcotic or “controlled dangerous substance”;
- Committing gross negligence or performing any act that is “inconsistent with generally accepted professional standards” of nursing;
- Engaging in any kind of false billing related to the provision of professional medical services;
- Demonstrating physical, mental, or professional incompetence;
- Failing to report “suspected child abuse” to law enforcement as required by Maryland law;
- Discriminating against a patient in the provision of nursing care based on his or her HIV-positive status;
- Failing to comply with the sanitary standards set forth by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, except in emergency, life-threatening situations;
- Failing to properly supervise any subordinates, including delegating the performance of any “nursing acts” to an individual who is not licensed to practice in Maryland;
- Practicing nursing in the State of Maryland without first obtaining a license, or practicing with an expired license that has not been renewed;
- Failing to submit to a criminal background check;
- Performing any professional act that is beyond your “knowledge and skills,” or directing anyone under your supervision to do so;
- Misappropriating the property of any patient or medical facility; and
- Failing to comply with all applicable MBON regulations and professional ethics rules, including not cooperating with a lawful investigation regarding any of the above categories of violations.
Your Due Process Rights in a Maryland Nursing License Disciplinary Case
Before taking any final disciplinary action against a licensed nurse, the Maryland Board of Nursing (MBON) must afford the accused certain due process rights. This includes holding a “show cause” hearing before the Board or its designee. You have a legal right to representation during this hearing.
While administrative hearings like those conducted by the MBON are not subject to the same rules as a civil or criminal trial in court, you are nevertheless entitled to present arguments in your defense. A prosecutor representing the state will also appear and present arguments in favor of disciplinary action.
Depending on the nature of the charges against you, it is also possible to resolve a disciplinary matter without a formal hearing. You can ask for a settlement conference, which is a less formal process designed to reach a negotiated “consent order” with the MBON. In a typical consent order, you and the administrative prosecutor will agree on a disciplinary action and make a proposal to the Committee of the MBON whom, in turn, will propose the settlement agreement to the full Board. Once the full Board accepts the agreement and enters the consent order into the record, you are then bound by the agreement. If you are not able to agree on the terms of a consent order, your case then proceeds to a full evidentiary hearing.
Seeking Rehabilitation, Not Punishment, for Drug and Alcohol Problems
If the Maryland Board of Nursing seeks to suspend or revoke your license on the basis of alcohol or substance abuse, you need to be aware of how the law both helps and hurts you. It hurts you in the sense that the legal burden is on you, not the Board or its prosecutor, to prove “by a preponderance of the evidence” that you are not an addict. It can also help you in that there is an alternative to the formal disciplinary process available in the form of the MBON's Rehabilitation Program.
The Rehabilitation Program is expressly designed to aid licensed nurses who suffer from drug or alcohol dependency or mental illness. As the name implies, the goal is to rehabilitate nurses who suffer from these illnesses while providing an avenue for them to return to professional practice without compromising the health and safety of patients.
If you are in need of drug, alcohol, or mental health counseling, you can voluntarily self-report to the Board. You may also be offered the option of rehabilitation after someone else files a complaint against you. Please note that you will not be allowed to seek rehabilitation if you have actually caused injury to a patient or face criminal charges for the distribution or illegal diversion of controlled substances (that is to say, stealing prescription drugs from your workplace).
The MBON has a separate Rehabilitation Committee that evaluates all applicants for the program. If accepted you will be required to sign a consent agreement similar to those employed in traditional disciplinary proceedings. The consent agreement, in this case, will outline the requirements for your rehabilitation program, such as the need to undergo formal therapy, attend support groups, submit to periodic random drug tests, and assessing your overall progress. Rehabilitation consent agreements are legally binding and typically last at least five years. Also, note that this program is not free; you will be responsible for the costs of any required services.
Getting Your Nursing License Back
Not every licensing case can be settled. If you believe that you have been falsely accused of a violation, you have every right to challenge the attack on your license. While the Maryland Board of Nursing has the authority to issue administrative orders following a show cause hearing, if you disagree with the result you may file a petition for judicial review. A nurse attorney at The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, L.L.C., can assist you from start to finish at the administrative hearing, as well as throughout the judicial review process.
The judicial review process means that you are basically challenging the MBON’s final decision in circuit court. If the circuit court rules against you, you may have a further appeal to the Maryland Court of Appeals or the Court of Special Appeals. Keep in mind, however, that any final order suspending or revoking your license will remain in effect during judicial review, which often takes several months or years to complete.
If you are currently under an MBON order suspending your license for more than one year, you can apply for reinstatement after one year has passed. Reinstatement is not a matter of right. You must follow the legal requirements for reinstatement established by the Board and submit to a new criminal background check. Even then, the Board has the option of denying reinstatement of your license or reinstating you under probationary terms.
Contact an Experienced Attorney to Defend Your Maryland Nursing License
Given the complexity of state regulation over the nursing profession, it is vital that you work with an experienced attorney who understands the state's legal system. You might think that a licensing issue is something you can handle on your own. Even if you believe your licensing problem is the result of a misunderstanding or even a false accusation of misconduct, your best chance for defending your ability to work is to engage the assistance of a qualified attorney who focuses on licensing matters. Attorney Jamaal (“Jay”) W. Stafford and his legal team are experienced. We know how to make the system work for you rather than against you.
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, L.L.C. is dedicated to helping you defend your nursing license. If a complaint has been filed against you or you suspect one is forthcoming, it is critical not to delay in seeking the advice of counsel. Remember, hiring a lawyer is not an admission of guilt or wrongdoing. Rather, it is a sign that you are taking the allegations against you seriously and seek to present a comprehensive defense in accordance with your rights under Maryland law. Call us today at 410-514-6099 or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced Maryland nurse attorney to discuss the best defense for your professional nursing license today.