There are literally tens of thousands of nurses who could help ease the strain on the healthcare system from Covid-19. There are nurses in every state having been subject to unjust investigations by Boards of Nursing. I speak specifically to the large number of nurses who have had retaliatory complaints, or complaints that in no way endangered patient safety such as traffic violations, defaulting on student loans or patient outcomes that were a direct result of system failure that the nurse had no control over. These are nurses who have unproven, uncharged violations. They are instead enduring many year long investigations that often result in findings of innocence after the nurses career is leveled. We know of many case examples of nurses subjected to one and two year investigations who were clearly innocent, based on early, objective evidence. Had the medical records and facts been competently reviewed at the start of the complaint process these nurses would have been found innocent of any wrong doing. It must be remembered boards admit to starting with a presumption of guilt. They may deny constitutional due process because of the protections of Administrative Law.
In Texas more than 5700 nurses are subject to career crippling board investigations per year. The BON investigates approximately 5400, regardless of merit. Only 1500 ever result in charges. These investigations go on for 1 to 2 years. At a largely attended Jurisprudence course a Board attorney recently stated they do not need evidence to charge a nurse. She stated: "all i need is sufficient suspicion."
Boards nationwide overcharge nurses as they have no duty to follow State Rules of Evidence. Nurses licenses are restricted for traffic violations, off duty completly legal conduct the board considers unbecoming of a nurse and other minor offenses. This has led to back logs of hundreds of cases keeping nurses unemployed for years. And preventing the early discovery of conduct that does place the community at risk.
If all 50 states readdressed how BON carry out investigations, this would free up tens of thousands of innocent nurses. Boards should be made to adhere to State Rules Of Evidence used in criminal and civil cases so that allegations not meeting this standard are immediately dismissed.
Darlene Nelson RN
Maggie Ortiz MSN, RN
Michelle Rowton MSN, APRN
Sheila Hemphill, CNO Texas Right to Know