A Registered Nurse was reported to the Texas Board of Nursing for false allegations by hospital. The hospital sought to silence her after she had reported a Physcian the hospital knew was verbally and physically abusing emergency room patients.
The BON has no investment in seeking the truth and tortures nurses during the so called investigation process. Nurses careers are leveled and they are financially crippled by attempting to defend themselves. Nurses are subject to cruel and life destroying Board actions before the charges are even proven or adjudicated. We have heard from many nurses who were falsely accused, or overly harshly disciplined. These nurses in their attempts to prove their innocence have lost their homes, lost their cars and suffered horrific stress in response to the Board's failure to offer due process and their stacking the deck against nurses. Here are some cruel tactics the Board uses to strong arm and break nurses:
1. Your intial notification of allegations will be vague. The nurse is offered to submit their defense in writing within a short period of time. It is impossible to offer a defense when you are not given a clear explanation of the allegations or rebutt evidence. Yet you will not be granted another chance to inform the Board what really happened or did not happen until a hearing. The Board will judge the nurse without knowing your side or information they must know in order to fairly judge the situation.
2. From the beginning the nurse is denied the right to respond to all of the evidence the Board is using to determine the nurses guilt. Kept from the nurse or her attorney will be any statements documenting the incident reported or such as the reports of nurse consultants who reviewed the case and formed opinions.
3. The nurse is assumed guilty and must prove their own innocence.
4. The opportunity to speak and address the charges may be offered in an informal hearing. The hearing will not be scheduled for six to ten months leaving the nurse to twist in the wind over what punishment they may face. Even at an informal hearing the nurse is forbidden to know exactly what their accuser reported.
5. The BON often assigns a non-nurse, non healthcare professional Board investigator to make a decision as to the nurses guilt. Non nurse investigators are not trained and experienced in interpreting medical records or the standard of care as it relates to nurses. Yet the investigator will decide on your guilt based on medical records they do not understand. They will make this uninformed opinion based on such as what the hospital says happened or what statements they recieve that you never have the right to respond to.
6. The Board will not pursue exculpatory evidence such as camera footage or talking with witnesses you provide. One Board attorney stated he only had to prove 2 things. One is that you are a nurse and second that a complaint was filed.
7. If the informal hearing results in the panel concluding the charges should be dismissed, the Director of Enforcement (another non medical person) may and does disregard his peers vote. Charges that were to be dropped will show up in a proposed order sent to you.
8. The proposed order will hugely expand on and magnify the charges. An example is a nurse gave medication but failed to document the medication ( an error with no intent and no harm to the patient.) In this case the nurse will be charged with both giving the medication and not documenting and NOT giving the medication and failing to waste the medication. Fact is the nurse cannot have possibly done both.
10. Though the BON rules state that the process should take no more than a year, they will make no attempt to docket your case for trial for one to two years or more.
11. Though your charges remain unproven and unadjudicated the BON will place on your license "formal charges." Any employer can also call the Board and be informed of all the piled on charges. They will not tell the calling prospective employer mitigating circumstances, or that there is evidence disproving the charges.
12. The nurse now cannot work The nurse has already suffered great financial burden with attorney fees, and thousands spent to undergo the psychological testing and polygraph the BON ordered. Now the nurse will have no income.
13. The Board will hire or use on retainer, experts to testify against you. These experts are often on contract to the Board or are
Board staff. This makes the expert an advocate for the Board. Nurses at this point cannot afford to hire their own expert.
14. After many months the nurse is notified only days ahead of their finally set trial date.
15. The nurse is denied the right to review the discovery or see what evidence the Board is relying on, until just days before the trial. Chances are the Board will not be responsive to providing your complete file and all the evidence. The nurse then cannot prepare their defense.
15. If the nurse hires an opposing expert chances are they will not be approved by the Board. Only the judge should make this decision.
16. The Board will have limitless funds to prosecute the nurse. The nurse has been broken financially and won't be able to afford a robust defense.
17. If the Judge does find in the Nurse's favor the Board can disrespect the Judge's ruling and still persist in charging the nurse with unproven charges.
18. The Nurse will be publicly humiliated with the charges listed on the Board's website, in their newsletter and will be reporter to at least two national databases which employers rely upon.
Now, tell me how this rises to the standard of American justice or due process? It doesn't, it's a denial of civil rights and cruel. Even if found innocent the nurse and her families lives have been shattered. The nurse will likely never practice again And those filing false charges will never be held accountable. Careers and lives are destroyed without the benefit of the board conducting an unbiased review of all the facts by someone who understands the facts and knows the standard of care.
The literature is replete with the fact that punishing nurses and healthcare providers who were not malicious, does not help the nurse learn and improve their practice. Much research has been done proving that the root cause of apparent or actual errors, lies within a system failure It is the process that should be analyzed not the person blamed in order to further patient safely.