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New Jersey Nurse License Defense Lawyers

By Spodek Law Group | July 27, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 13, 2023)

Last Updated on: 13th October 2023, 05:17 pm

New Jersey Nurse License Defense Lawyers: Protecting Your Career and Reputation

Nursing is a noble and rewarding profession, but it also comes with many challenges and responsibilities. Even the most dedicated and caring nurses can find themselves facing accusations of misconduct or negligence. If an investigation or complaint is lodged against your nursing license in New Jersey, it’s crucial to seek experienced legal representation right away to protect your career, reputation and livelihood.

This article provides an overview of nurse license defense in New Jersey, including the licensing laws, common allegations, disciplinary process and how an attorney can help defend your license.

New Jersey’s Nurse Practice Act Governs Licensing

The New Jersey Board of Nursing is authorized under the state‘s Nurse Practice Act to license and regulate all nurses in the state. This includes registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and advanced practice nurses.Section 45:11-24 of the Act establishes a 10-member Board of Nursing to oversee licensing. Six members must be RNs, two LPNs and one advanced practice nurse, along with one public member.

Under Section 45:11-24d, the Board has the authority to grant nursing licenses, but also to impose discipline through actions like suspension or revocation. So if you face an investigation or complaint, it will be reviewed and decided by the Board.

Common Allegations that Lead to Disciplinary Actions

There are many types of complaints that can trigger an investigation and potential disciplinary action by the New Jersey Board of Nursing. Some common allegations include:

  • Negligence or malpractice: Making serious errors or omissions in patient care that lead to harm.
  • Substance abuse: Arriving to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Diverting medications for personal use.
  • Boundary violations: Engaging in inappropriate personal or sexual relationships with patients.
  • Documentation issues: Charting errors, fraudulent billing, falsifying records.
  • Criminal convictions: DUIs, drug charges and other crimes that may impact your fitness to practice.
  • Unprofessional conduct: Rudeness, offensive comments, violating patient confidentiality.
  • Practice violations: Working without a valid nursing license or outside your scope of practice.

Any complaint lodged with the Board will be investigated. If they find sufficient evidence, formal charges will be filed and disciplinary action taken.

Overview of the Disciplinary and Hearing Process

If a complaint against your nursing license leads to formal charges, here is a basic overview of what to expect in New Jersey:

  • The Board will send you written notice detailing the factual allegations and alleged violations. This starts the formal disciplinary process.
  • The Board has an Attorney General prosecutor who will gather evidence and build a case against you.
  • You will be required to respond to the charges within a certain timeframe, such as 30 days. This is where a skilled nurse license defense attorney is critical.
  • Disciplinary actions can include fines, probation, limitations on your license, suspension, or full revocation. Your attorney may be able to negotiate a settlement.
  • If no settlement is reached, your case will go to a formal hearing before the Board. Your attorney will defend you at the hearing.
  • The Board will issue a final written decision after the hearing. If the ruling is unfavorable, your attorney can help you appeal.

Having an experienced lawyer in your corner from the very start is key, as they can often resolve or mitigate charges during the investigative phase. Once formal charges are filed, your defense becomes much more difficult.

How Can a Nurse License Defense Lawyer Help?

When your career and reputation are on the line, you need a lawyer who knows this complex area of law inside and out. Here are some of the key ways an experienced nursing license defense attorney can help protect your livelihood in New Jersey:

  • Respond to allegations strategically – Your lawyer can advise you on responding to an investigation or complaint in a way that avoids self-incrimination.
  • Negotiate with the Board – There may be room to negotiate a settlement that minimizes the discipline against your license. Your lawyer can handle these negotiations.
  • Represent you at hearings – If your case does go to a hearing, your attorney will defend you before the Board and challenge any allegations.
  • Gather exculpatory evidence – Your lawyer can collect documents, affidavits and other evidence to refute the charges against you.
  • Find expert witnesses – Securing testimony from expert witnesses, such as fellow nurses, can bolster your defense.
  • Appeal unfavorable rulings – If the Board rules against you, your lawyer can appeal the decision to try to get it reversed.
  • Assert your rights – Your lawyer will ensure your legal rights are protected throughout the investigative and disciplinary process.
  • Avoid self-incrimination – You have the right not to provide potentially damaging evidence against yourself.
  • Apply for reinstatement – If your license is suspended or revoked, your attorney can help you seek reinstatement.

The consequences of losing your nursing license are severe. Don‘t go through this process alone. Consult with a nurse license defense lawyer as early as possible.

When defending a nurse against disciplinary action in New Jersey, there are several legal defenses that skilled lawyers may assert based on the specifics of the case. Some potential defenses include:

  • Lack of evidence – The Board has the burden of proving the allegations. If evidence is lacking, the charges can be defeated.
  • Negligence by others – Often there are multiple healthcare providers involved in a patient’s care. Your lawyer can argue negligence by other parties.
  • Expert reviews – Securing expert opinions showing you met the standard of care can help defeat allegations of negligence.
  • No proximate cause – In malpractice claims, there must be a direct causal link between the alleged negligence and the patient’s injury. The defense can argue the lack of proximate cause.
  • Unintentional error – While errors do occur in nursing, not every mistake warrants severe discipline against your license.
  • Substance abuse treatment – Demonstrating active treatment and recovery from drug/alcohol issues may mitigate potential discipline.
  • Due process violations – Your lawyer can challenge procedural missteps that infringed on your rights.
  • Disparate treatment – If the Board treats your case radically different than similar cases, it may indicate bias.

A skilled nurse license defense lawyer will thoroughly analyze your case to build the strongest defense strategy possible.

The Value of Retaining an Experienced Nurse License Attorney

Here are some of the top reasons why it‘s so important to retain an attorney experienced in defending New Jersey nurses:

  • They know nurse licensing laws – An experienced lawyer will be intimately familiar with the Nurse Practice Act, regulations, and disciplinary process.
  • They’ve handled nurse cases before – Hire a lawyer with a proven track record of successfully defending nurse licenses. Ask about their specific experience in this field.
  • They understand the politics – An experienced attorney will have insight into the Board’s thinking and any internal politics that may impact a case.
  • They can avoid common pitfalls – Nursing disciplinary cases have many complexities. An experienced lawyer can help you avoid missteps.
  • They have negotiating leverage – Well-respected nurse license defense lawyers often have more leverage in negotiating favorable settlements.
  • They can find witnesses and experts – The right experts and witness testimony can make or break your defense. Seasoned lawyers know the best ones.
  • They know how to win appeals – If you lose at the initial hearing, you need a battle-tested lawyer to win the appeal.

While any lawyer can take on a nurse license defense case, those with specific experience defending nurses have a huge advantage. Vet attorneys thoroughly and retain one with proven expertise.

Alternatives to Disciplinary Action: Diversion Programs

If a complaint stems from substance abuse or mental health issues, entering a diversion program may avoid disciplinary action against your New Jersey nursing license. These programs allow nurses to obtain treatment and demonstrate their commitment to recovery.The two primary diversion programs are:

  • Recovery and Monitoring Program (RAMP) – This is a diversion program specifically for nurses overseen by the New Jersey Board of Nursing. It provides intensive monitoring during treatment and recovery.
  • Professional Assistance Program (PAP) – PAP is available to licensed professionals in all fields through the Division of Consumer Affairs. It offers confidential services for substance abuse and mental health disorders.

The Board may agree to stay disciplinary proceedings pending successful completion of one of these programs. Your defense attorney can advise whether you are eligible and negotiate terms of the diversion agreement. Entering a program is voluntary, confidential and demonstrates remorse and rehabilitation.

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