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What can a nurse do to change the reprimand status on her nursing license so she can work as a nurse again?



Dear Nancy,

I have been unable to get a job as an LPN for almost two years due to a prior reprimand in 2008 for a medication/documentation error. I complied with the board of nursing requirements, paid a fine and completed 16 hours of continuing education. What can I do to change the reprimand status and be able to be a nurse again?


Dear Nancy replies:

Dear Agatha,

The collateral impacts of a discipline by a board of nursing are numerous and your difficulty in getting a job may be one of them. Unfortunately, many employers view a discipline, however minor, as a restriction of the license and therefore will not hire the potential employee, sometimes years after the discipline has been imposed. Although not a fair outcome, it is a common one.

You may be able to expunge the discipline from the public record the board of nursing maintains for discipline of nurses. Many boards have links on their website to disciplines by the month and year the discipline was imposed, along with a short description of what the nurse was disciplined for. If your state board of nursing has decided to expunge listings that are a certain number of years old, you should seek advice and help from a nurse attorney or other attorney in your state to get your listing removed from the state board’s website.

Keep in mind, though, the discipline by the board of nursing may be reported to other agencies or data banks to which the public has access. If, for example, you are disciplined in more than one state, the other state may take action against you as well. This state may not have a process for expungement so the information remains available to the public, including potential employers,
to access.

Likewise, if the discipline was the result of a professional negligence suit and a verdict required the nurse licensee who had professional liability insurance to pay an amount to the injured patient, or the lawsuit was settled with a monetary amount to the patient, the event would be reported to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Data Bank. Although the public does not have access to this information, healthcare employers do.

You can read more about the collateral effects of being disciplined by a board of nursing in the article by Porter and Mackay, “Collateral Damage to Encumbered Nursing Licenses,” Vol. 15, No. 2, Journal of Nursing Law, pages 45-50.

Remember, that there are employers out there who are willing to give nurse licensees a second chance despite their discipline by a board of nursing. It does take time to find the right fit. Hopefully you will find an employer who sees you as a good candidate for its job opening and you see the employer as a viable place to work.



About Author

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.

1 Comment

  1. I was working in another state as an RN in a hospital setting for around 8 months had three or four evaluations all in which were great. One day i was asked to give report to another nurse and come with my manager. I was then drug tested and brought to her office and questioned about mistakes i had made with administering medications. I was shocked, besides myself and after 15 years as an RN totally humiliated. i couldnt not explain what happened and why some meds administered didnt habe the correct dose given at the time but i KNOW for sure that I ALWAYS gave the amount taken out for each patient, Why when two were removed it only showed one given?? I never would think of doing anything illegal such at take patients meds, but i again couldnt explain what happened.
    They told me if the drug test came back negative i would return to work on Monday. Monday came and they asked me to go to the human resourse department for further talk. I knew it wasn’t going to be a good thing and when i went they said my drug test was negative but……. Then asked me were were the meds. Any nursing staff knows who the good nurses are and those who could possibly be doing illegal activity and in my case all my staff who i worked with knew i would never and it was a “administration documentation error”.
    If i made the mistakes then i make them from the start of my new job why am i being held 100% responsible when after all me evaluations said nothing negative about me or my performance??? I begged to be given a second chance and to find out what i was doing wrong?? something i was doing was wrong and i couldn’t explain it.

    I was terminated and turned in to the BON. I was reprimanded and in clearly stated “no drug use or suspicion at all by employer”, unsatisfactory job performance. I understand if there was a risk to the patienst life if too much or wrong medication was given to the patients but thats not my case.

    I drove myself crazy thinking about what had i did wrong!!! on my interview i was asked if there was anything i didnt not believe in or anything i wanted to tel them and on my application i sated i dont give leathel doses of meds to patients who were on hospice and am very afraid on the computer system before and i am an old nurse and never had administered meds via computer.

    They told me that it was by law they had to turn me into the BON.I hired an atturny because i knew they wanted to get me for steeling medication.
    The attorney told me to take what they were giving me or pay 10~15k to take it to court. I would have it i had the money nut didnt.

    Two to three weeks b4 this all happened i yold my nurse mgr that the charge nurse wat treating me unfair and that if nothing was done about it I wood have to report it to higher authority bc i could not work being abused suied every day by a specfic


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