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What recourse does an RN have when their license is temporarily suspended during an investigation of having spoken harshly to a patient?



Dear Nancy,

I was accused this week of speaking harshly to a patient, and the incident is being investigated in-house as abuse. I am an RN supervisor, and I am temporarily suspended.


Dear Nancy replies:

Dear Casey,

It is assumed your employer is following its policy concerning abuse. An investigation is necessary in order to ensure the accuracy of what happened. If the investigation is done correctly, there will either be a basis for further action against you or the allegations will be found untrue.

Even with this investigation, however, you may want to consult with a nurse attorney or other attorney in your state who practices in the area of employment law and represents employees. Although the attorney may not be able to actively represent you during the employer proceedings, including any grievance you may file, the attorney can coach you and advise you behind the scenes. If further legal action is needed (e.g., filing a lawsuit for an investigation not done correctly), then the attorney will have the necessary facts and information to begin that suit.

If no lawsuit is possible and the employer determines you did abuse a patient pursuant to its policy, keep in mind the employer may report you to the board of nursing for a violation of the state nurse practice act. If that happens, then the attorney can represent you in those proceedings or work with another attorney who practices professional defense law to represent you in that situation.



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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