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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.

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