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Is there a time limit on disciplinary actions from the board of nursing?

Friday March 8, 2013
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Question:

Dear Nancy,

Is there a time limit on disciplinary actions from the board of nursing?

Bonnie



Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Bonnie,

Any statute of limitations — a limit on the time a state board of nursing has to bring a complaint against a nurse — would be located in the nurse practice act itself, or in the rules to administer the act. Also, it may be located in another state statute that governs professional disciplinary actions against all licensed individuals in a particular state. Some states have enacted time limitations, while others have not.

It certainly is to the advantage of the nurse licensee to have such a time limit. If the time within which a board of nursing can bring a complaint against a nurse is open-ended, it would be difficult to defend against the allegations, due to many factors: witnesses who have moved from the state or have died; the questionable accuracy of the memory of witnesses who would be available to testify in a hearing or provide a letter/affidavit of support in an informal proceeding; and the possible loss of evidence necessary for disproving the allegations.

If your state does not have a time limitation within which the board of nursing can bring a complaint against a nurse licensee, consider contacting your state representative(s) and asking that a bill be introduced into the legislature to provide a time limit. In addition to your state representatives, contacting your professional association(s) in your state also would be helpful, as their lobbyists can work to help obtain a statute of limitations that will eliminate an open-ended ability to bring professional disciplinary actions against nurses.

Sincerely,
Nancy




Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.