I received a notice to appear before the board of nursing because of a complaint. The complaint names myself, I was the director of nursing at the time, and an LPN. The issue in question pertains to alleged patient neglect but does not state any specifics. Neither of us work for this employer any longer. Are the company attorneys obligated to represent us for the time in question as we were employed with them at that time? My understanding is this meeting is to decide whether or not a formal hearing should take place. Do you recommend I obtain an attorney for this? I also was told that I could be available by telephone instead of attending in person, then I would not have to take a day off work. Although my attendance is not required in person, is it in my best interest to be there in person, rather than by telephone?
Nancy Brent replies:
It would be highly unlikely that the attorneys for your former employer would represent you in this matter. You did not identify who made the complaint against you, maybe you do not know, but it could be your former employer. In either event, you need to retain a nurse attorney or attorney to represent you concerning these allegations. If you have your own professional liability insurance, many insurance policies of this kind now provide legal counsel and representation for the insured nurse in professional disciplinary proceedings.
Since the complaint also was made against an LPN with whom you worked, there may be an adversarial relationship between you and the LPN, since what each of you say may be totally different. You did not mention if you were to appear before the board together, but it is assumed that the LPN would meet with the board separately with his or her own attorney.
Your attorney can advise you of the pros and cons of appearing in person as opposed to appearing via telephone. Your attorney should be present in either circumstance. As your attorney probably will tell you, this conference is an important one and if it is possible to resolve the complaint at this juncture, that is an outcome worth striving for.