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Todd Spodek is a second generation attorney with immense experience. He has many years of experience handling 100’s of tough and hard to win trials. He’s been featured on major news outlets, such as New York Post, Newsweek, Fox 5 New York, South China Morning Post, Insider.com, and many others.

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NYC Nursing License Defense Lawyers

By Spodek Law Group | July 27, 2023
(Last Updated On: December 16, 2023)

Last Updated on: 16th December 2023, 12:52 am

NYC Nursing License Defense Lawyers: Protecting Nurses’ Livelihoods

Nurses are the backbone of our healthcare system. They work tirelessly to care for patients and save lives. However, even the most dedicated nurses can find themselves facing accusations of misconduct that threaten their ability to practice. This is where NYC nursing license defense lawyers come in. In New York, the State Education Department’s Office of Professional Discipline (OPD) investigates allegations of misconduct against nurses. If substantiated, these allegations can lead to disciplinary action against a nurse’s license—including suspension or revocation. The stakes are incredibly high, as loss of a nursing license means loss of a career. Fortunately, experienced NYC nursing license defense lawyers can advocate aggressively on behalf of nurses. They understand both the complex laws governing the profession and the nuances of the disciplinary process. This article provides an overview of key issues related to nursing license defense in New York City.

Common Reasons Nurses Get Investigated

Nurses can face accusations of misconduct for a variety of reasons. Some common allegations include:

  • Documentation issues: Failing to properly document patient care or maintain records. This can involve anything from incomplete charting to fraudulent entries.
  • Medication diversion: Diverting medications for personal use or gain. This is an especially serious allegation that often results in criminal charges.
  • Substance abuse: Practicing while impaired by alcohol or drugs. The OPD takes a hard stance on this issue.
  • Negligence: Practicing with gross negligence, including major errors or omissions in patient care.
  • Scope of practice violations: Performing medical acts beyond a nurse’s authorized scope under their license.
  • Criminal convictions: Any crime, even if unrelated to nursing, can trigger disciplinary action.

Sometimes nurses face misconduct allegations due to no real fault of their own. They may be used as scapegoats by facilities looking to cover up their own inadequate policies. Or they may simply not get along with a supervisor who files spurious complaints.

The Disciplinary Process in New York

In New York, disciplinary investigations typically start with a letter from an OPD investigator requesting an interview. Nurses are obligated to cooperate, but experienced attorneys usually advise clients not to speak with investigators right away. Any statements made can and will be used against the nurse.After an investigation concludes, there are a few potential outcomes:

  • Dismissal: If the allegations are unsubstantiated, the case is dismissed. The nurse’s license remains clear.
  • Letter of warning: Minor violations may result in a non-public warning letter. This goes into the nurse’s file but allows them to continue practicing.
  • Referral to a disciplinary hearing: Serious allegations can lead to formal charges and a hearing before an administrative law judge. The nurse has the right to present evidence and arguments in their defense.

Why Hiring a Lawyer is Crucial

Facing the possibility of losing one’s livelihood is terrifying. The urge to handle things alone may be strong. But nurses should think twice before going it alone against the formidable OPD. The laws and procedures involved are nuanced and unforgiving.An experienced nursing license defense lawyer knows this terrain. They can advise the nurse at every turn, applying their expertise to achieve the best possible outcome. Specific benefits of legal representation include:

  • Early intervention: Lawyers can get involved right away to head off formal charges. In many cases, they negotiate alternate solutions like additional training.
  • Inside knowledge: Defense lawyers are intimiately familiar with OPD investigators and their tactics. They can advise clients on how to avoid pitfalls in responding.
  • Expert guidance: Lawyers serve as trusted advisors if allegations result in a hearing. They prepare winning legal strategies and arguments.
  • Negotiation skills: Even when charges seem airtight, lawyers can often negotiate reduced penalties or creative settlements. Their relationships with OPD officials are invaluable.

Without an attorney, nurses may make costly mistakes that seal their fate. Even if charges seem minor, the consequences can be massive. Fighting to save their career is not something any nurse should do alone.

Criminal Allegations Against Nurses

Sometimes nurses face criminal charges in addition to license disciplinary action. Common criminal allegations include:

  • Drug diversion: Stealing medications from employers often results in theft or larceny charges. These are separate from professional misconduct charges.
  • DUI: Getting charged with driving under the influence also triggers professional consequences.
  • Assault: Workplace incidents involving alleged violence against patients or colleagues may lead to assault or battery charges.
  • Fraud: If nurses bill for services not provided or falsify documentation, they may face fraud charges.
  • Sexual misconduct: Any alleged illegal sexual contact with a patient is treated as a serious crime.

Facing criminal charges further complicates the defense of a nurse’s license. The OPD will likely seek harsh sanctions based on criminal convictions.Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer is crucial when both a nurse’s freedom and career are at stake. The criminal lawyer and administrative lawyer can collaborate, making sure both matters are handled in a way that best protects the client.

The Importance of Reputation Management

In the internet age, allegations against a nurse’s license can damage their reputation forever, regardless of the outcome. Defense lawyers understand this threat.They will advise clients on how to carefully manage public communications to avoid inflaming the situation. This starts with avoiding social media posts or comments to the media about the case. Lawyers may also request investigative records through Freedom of Information Laws to understand how agencies are portraying the allegations.In some cases, lawyers can take proactive steps to counteract reputational harm. For example, they may be able to negotiate the removal of certain stigmatizing information from final discipline reports. Or they may be able to get legal records sealed if charges are dropped. Their goal is controling information to protect the client’s reputation.

Finding the Right Lawyer for Your Case

Not all lawyers have the same track record in nursing license defense. When choosing counsel, nurses should look for these indicators of excellence:

  • Specialization: A lawyer who focuses specifically on professional discipline and licensing is ideal. Avoid dabblers.
  • Nursing experience: Look for extensive experience defending nurses before the OPD. Thorough knowledge of this field is vital.
  • Resources: Opt for a law firm with the staff and financial resources to vigorously defend you before the OPD. This is not the time to pinch pennies.
  • Reputation: Choose a lawyer with a sterling reputation among nurses and healthcare employers. You want someone who commands respect.
  • Compatibility: Make sure you feel comfortable communicating openly with the lawyer. You need someone in your corner you can trust completely.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I receive a subpoena or target letter from the OPD?

Do not respond directly. Contact an experienced nursing license defense lawyer immediately. They can provide guidance on how to properly respond. Any information you provide could be used against you, so proceed with extreme caution.

Will hiring a lawyer make me look guilty?

Absolutely not. In fact, it is expected that anyone facing serious allegations with livelihood at stake will seek legal counsel. It simply demonstrates you are taking the matter seriously.

Can I lose my nursing license if charges are dropped?

Unfortunately, yes. The OPD applies a lower burden of proof than criminal courts. So you may still face disciplinary action even if no criminal conviction results. Your defense lawyer’s advocacy will be crucial to avoiding this outcome.

What should I do if my employer threatens discipline against my license?

Do not resign or agree to any proposed discipline until speaking to a lawyer. Employers may pressure nurses to agree to sanctions or even surrender their licenses. A lawyer can advise you and push back on the employer’s demands if needed.

How much does a nursing license defense lawyer cost?

Experienced lawyers with proven track records generally charge between $5,000-$15,000 as a retainer fee, with hourly billing rates around $500 per hour. The total cost depends on the complexity of your case. Preserving your career is worth the investment.

Conclusion

Maintaining an unblemished nursing license is absolutely essential for practicing in New York. Even diligent nurses can find themselves under scrutiny. By understanding the disciplinary process and seeking counsel from an experienced NYC nursing license defense lawyer, nurses have the best chance at protecting their reputation and livelihood. Never hesitate to call on a knowledgeable lawyer for guidance and advocacy. Your career depends on it.

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