What do I do if I have received a letter notifying me I am under investigation from my licensing board?
The Often-Overlooked Consequences of Licensing Board Actions
A formal administrative action initiated by a licensing board against an individual holding a professional license or certificate may result in the imposition of disciplinary action. Such discipline can range from public reprimands and fines to suspension or revocation of a license/certificate. If discipline is imposed after a hearing or through a negotiated settlement, it is crucial to be aware of potential ancillary consequences of that discipline.
Defending Your Occupational License, Without Being Defensive
Receiving a notice that you are under investigation by your occupational licensing board is an extremely stressful event. The initial reaction of many receiving such a notice is to panic that this means the end of their professional career. The good news is most frequently that is not the case. Notices of investigation from an occupational licensing board generally request that the recipient respond to the allegations contained in the notice. While it is of course natural to want to vigorously defend yourself from any allegation, it is critical in responding to a notice of investigation to avoid becoming defensive or overly aggressive in the response. Crucial facts that a board may need to know about the matter often get lost in overzealous responses.
What do I do after I've responded to the licensing board's letter of investigation?
Upon reviewing the investigative case, most licensing boards (depending on the laws governing the board) will notify you if the matter is being closed or if formal disciplinary action is being initiated in the matter.
What happens if my licensing board initiates formal disciplinary action against me?
If you have not already retained counsel, do so immediately. You should not attempt to defend yourself in a formal disciplinary matter. Every state licensing board has slightly different procedural processes for formal disciplinary matters, but most formal disciplinary complaints are resolved either through a settlement/consent agreement or after a formal hearing is held. Legal counsel can advise you regarding your options for resolution and the risks and benefits of each option.
FAQs for Professional License Investigations &/or Disciplinary Matters
The Importance of Proper Nursing Documentation
What do I need to know when renewing my professional license or certification?
Know when you need to renew and put it on your calendar. Many boards have moved away from sending reminders to license holders or may send only one reminder. Unfortunately, many license holders miss their deadline for renewal resulting in practicing their profession without a license. This is generally grounds for disciplinary action to be initiated against the license holder.
Make proper disclosures. Renewal applications generally will ask for information regarding events that occurred from the last renewal date to the deadline for the upcoming renewal. Be sure to carefully read all questions on a renewal application to determine whether or not a disclosure is required. For instance, a license holder may be asked about investigations or administrative actions taken by other states. An out-of-state board investigation may have been disclosed during the last renewal cycle, but the investigation continued into the new renewal cycle, or administrative action may have been taken in the matter after the last renewal. In such circumstances the out-of-state action most likely will need to be disclosed depending on the language of the questions on the renewal application. Also, don’t assume that an out-of-state investigation that closed with no action doesn’t require disclosure. Again, make sure to read the language of the renewal carefully.
Don’t assume your Continuing Education credits won’t be audited. Many licensing boards now simply require a license holder to attest that they have completed the continuing education units required for license renewal. Never attest that you are in compliance unless you truly are. Most boards will randomly audit CEUs and if you have attested to compliance but are short units, you may be deemed to have renewed your license by false or misleading information which could result in the initiation of discipline action.
Beware of third-party renewal submission. If you practice your profession in a setting in which a third-party staff member or credentialer is responsible for preparing renewal applications, ensure that individual has all updated information required to submit an accurate renewal application. You will be attesting to the accuracy of the information provided and if there is an omission or incorrect information provided, you will be held responsible.
What is the process for Nevada State Board of Pharmacy Controlled Substance Registrations?
Nevada is one of several states that require prescribing practitioners (physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners) to obtain a state issued controlled substance registration in addition to a DEA registration prior to prescribing controlled substances in the state. The application is filed with the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy. While the application is very brief, practitioners who are required to answer affirmatively to any of the background questions on the application regarding prior criminal or administrative actions, may be required to make a personal appearance before the Board at a regularly scheduled meeting prior to considering whether to grant the registration. Practitioners should also be aware that any supporting documentation submitted with an application are considered public documents under current law. Practitioners should seek legal counsel should they have any questions prior to submitting a controlled substance registration application.
Disclosures of Sealed/Expunged Criminal Actions
Do I need to notify my licensing board if I was recently arrested or convicted for a misdemeanor?
You will typically be required to make a disclosure to your licensing board regarding an arrest or conviction, however when such a disclosure is made is dependent upon the statutes and regulations governing your licensing board. You may be required to report the arrest/conviction to your licensing board within a certain period or time or may be able to make the disclosure at the time of your next license/registration/certification renewal. Failure to make a timely disclosure can result in a licensing board initiating formal disciplinary action.
Disclosures in General
Every state licensing board specifies certain events/occurrences that must be reported to the board within a specified period of time or disclosed on a renewal application. Such events include a professional malpractice claim being filed in court, loss or change of hospital privileges, loss of professional liability insurance, etc. Be aware of disclosures your licensing board requires and when. Legal counsel can help in determining what and when disclosures must be made and can assist in drafting appropriate disclosure statements.
I was notified that I need to appear before a licensing board before they will issue a license, what should I expect and should I have counsel?
Licensing boards are required to notify you of the reason why they want to meet with you, but often will reserve the right to ask you about other matters that may come up during your board appearance. You should fully review your license application and any supporting documents prior to the meeting and should have a copy of your application and attachments with you at the time of the meeting. While counsel is not always necessary at such appearances, it is advisable to consult with legal counsel prior to such an appearance. The denial of a license for a professional license/registration can have far reaching consequences and often there is limited, if any, ability to appeal or request reconsideration of a denial so proper preparation and representation, when necessary, is absolutely required.
Informed Consent Documentation for Pain Prescriptions
Prescribing practitioners in Nevada are readily aware of the significant legal changes that were enacted after the 2017 Nevada legislative session regarding the requirements for prescribing controlled substances for the treatment of pain. Additional changes were made in 2019, including addition requirements for documenting a patient’s informed consent before prescribing a new controlled substance prescription for pain. NRS 639.23912 previously directed practitioners to discuss items such as the risks and benefits of the treatment, proper use of the prescription, alternative treatments, etc. with the patient. The 2019 changes now require a practitioner to also document in the patient’s chart that a discussion with the patient occurred covering the required informed consent factors and that the patient gave informed consent to initiate the prescription. If a written informed consent was provided, that should be included in the patient’s chart; but be aware, simply having the required prescription medication agreement (pain management contract) in the patient’s chart does not satisfy the informed consent documentation requirement.