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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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In 2022, Netflix released a series about one of Todd’s clients: Anna Delvey/Anna Sorokin.

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California Board of Nursing: Guide to Disciplinary Actions and Complaints

By Spodek Law Group | January 22, 2023

California Board of Nursing: Guide to Disciplinary Actions and Complaints

You’ve dedicated your life to becoming a healing caretaker in a lucrative but stressful profession as a nurse. It can be hard to deal with claims of wrongdoing that jeopardize your ability to work. While anybody can make a mistake, a mistake by a nurse, or even an unreasonable complaint from a dissatisfied patient or coworker, can result in a California Board of Nursing inquiry and potentially serious disciplinary consequences.

If you are facing a nurse complaint, investigation or disciplinary action, it is crucial that you understand the process and when to obtain expert legal counsel. Dealing with the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) and the California Board of Vocational Nurses and Psychiatric Technicians (BVNPT) involve risks you need to be aware of.

The California Board of Registered Nursing

The California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) and the California Board of Vocational Nurses and Psychiatric Technicians are the two licensing agencies that make up the California Board of Nursing (BVNPT). Both boards are part of the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), and their disciplinary procedures are essentially identical.

The California Board of Registered Nursing oversees the licensure of RN registered nurses, with the goal of protecting customers’ health and safety while also promoting high-quality Registered Nursing care in the state. As of 2020, California has 458,165 active licensed registered nurses.

The CA BRN and the BVNPT fulfill their missions by:

  • Providing nurse licenses to those who meet the requirements.
  • Nursing Practice Act (NPA) infractions are investigated, formal allegations are filed, and nurses are disciplined.
  • Nurses whose licenses have been placed on probation are being monitored.
  • Managing a Nurse Diversion Program for nurses whose practice has been hampered by substance abuse or mental illness.
  • The Board of Nursing can suspend licenses for gross negligence, criminal charges, incompetence and violations of the Nursing Practice Act. 

Starting in 2010, the number of disciplinary measures taken by the California BRN grew considerably.

The California BRN takes pleasure in ensuring that consumers are well-protected. Enforcement consumes the majority of the BRN’s budget. In 2010, the California Board of Registered Nursing reorganized and employed internal investigators, which resulted in a significant rise in enforcement activities. Media scrutiny of publications comparing California’s enforcement numbers with those of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing prompted the reforms.

Following the growth of investigative resources in 2010, the BRN went on an enforcement blitz, pressing charges against people who would not have been charged previously. Since 2010, it has been considerably easier for nurses to lose their license due to unintentional errors and one-time inappropriate behavior. Practice errors, minor drug offenses, nurse DUIs, and criminal charges can all lead to job termination.

When facing a California Board of Nursing inquiry or criminal charge, it is more necessary than ever for nurses to seek legal advice from an experienced attorney.

California Board of Registered Nursing

1747 N. Market Blvd,

Suite 150

Sacramento, CA 95834

(916) 322-3350 | (800) 326-2297 TTY for Hearing Impaired


California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians

2535 Capital Oaks Drive, Suite 205, Sacramento, CA 95833

(916) 263-7800


Disciplinary Actions from the California Board of Nursing

Depending on the circumstances, the BRN takes a variety of nurse disciplinary actions. When deciding whether to revoke, suspend, or impose probation terms on a licensee for a violation of the Nursing Practice Act or the Business and Professions Code, the board examines the following 11 elements, according to BRN guidelines:

  • The nature and seriousness of the act(s), offense(s), or crime(s) in question.
  • There is actual or prospective public harm.
  • Any patient may suffer actual or potential injury.
  • Previous disciplinary history
  • The number and/or type of current infractions.
  • Evidence of mitigation.
  • Evidence of rehabilitation.
  • Compliance with sentencing restrictions and/or court-ordered probation in the case of a criminal conviction.
  • Criminal history as a whole.
  • The act(s) or offense(s) occurred some time ago.
  • Evidence of 1203.4 pc expungement, if appropriate.

Various Nursing Disciplinary Actions

Nursing disciplinary actions go through six stages, with many different outcomes depending on the facts and the competence of your legal representation. The following are some of the probable outcomes of a Board of Nursing administrative hearing or discipline matter:

  • Probation terms were not affected by revocation or suspension.
  • Licensing revocation or suspension
  • Order of suspension in the interim
  • License surrender on one’s own volition
  • Suspension was issued by a judge during a criminal case (PC 23)
  • Stipulated settlement, often known as “stipulated agreement,” is a legal term that refers to a deal that has been
  • Fines and citation
  • Public chastisement/reprimand (with no license restrictions)
  • Closing the case without taking any action

As permitted by BPC § 125.3, the board may also pursue obligatory cost recovery for compensation of its investigative and enforcement expenditures. BVNPT disciplinary actions are handled in the same way that BRN disciplinary actions are handled.

Complaint review process of California Board of Nursing

Many nurses believe the BRN and BVNPT are working for them. Regrettably, this is not the case. The California Board of Nursing prioritizes consumer protection over nurse protection. BRN complaints are taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.

California Board of Nursing complaint priorities

The Division of Investigation (DOI) of the California Department of Consumer Affairs prioritizes complaints into four categories:

Category 1: Urgent, for referral to the DOI

  • Serious acts of patient/consumer harm, severe bodily injury, or death
  • Licensee has a mental or physical handicap that could cause public harm.
  • Practicing while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not recommended.
  • Allegations of drug/alcohol abuse have been made several times.
  • Theft of narcotics and prescription drugs; drug diversion; and other illegal possession
  • With a patient, there has been sexual misbehavior.
  • Abuse of a patient’s body or mind
  • Over-prescribing
  • Gross negligence or incompetence that causes serious harm or injury
  • Cases involving the media or that are politically sensitive

Category 2: High, for referral to the DOI

  • Prescribing or dispensing Without authorization
  • Unlicensed activity or unlicensed practice
  • assisting and abetting illegal activities
  • Prescription forgery, selling or utilizing counterfeit documents and/or transcripts, possession of narcotics, large financial fraud, financial elder abuse, insurance fraud, and other crimes are examples of criminal offenses.
  • Exam tampering occurs when the integrity of the exam is jeopardized.
  • Peer review reporting is required (BP §805).
  • Security or law enforcement standby (subject to staff availability)

Category 3: Routine, for referral to the nursing board

  • Unprofessional conduct and/or negligence or incompetence resulting in no injury, minimal harm, or injury that is not intentional and not life threatening
  • Arrest warrants were issued after that, but there was no immediate danger to the public.
  • Exam tampering or individual cheating in which the exam is not compromised
  • Medical malpractice reporting (BP §801) cases unless recognized as category 1 or 2
  • Serving hearing subpoenas and records subpoenas in non-DOI investigations
  • Abandonment of patients
  • False or deceptive advertising that is not connected to illegal or unauthorized activities
  • Misconduct by an applicant

Category 4: Routine, for referral to the nursing board

  • Conditions that are unsanitary.
  • Abandoning a project
  • Medical records not being released
  • Violations in record keeping
  • Violations of continuing education requirements
  • Declaration/record collection (such as licensee statements, arrest/conviction records and employment records)
  • Offensive behavior or language complaints (e.g., poor bedside manner, rude, abrupt, etc.)
  • Complaints related to quality-of-service
  • Complaints against a probationary licensee that do not fall under category 1 or 2
  • Unless the Board can verify that the complaint falls into category 1 or 2, anonymous complaints are ignored.
  • Non-jurisdictional matters

If you are a nurse facing disciplinary action, call Spodek Law Group today! 

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