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· Whether the Board of Nursing is looking at you because of a complaint, a self-report, or related to a separate potential criminal matter (DUI or drug charges), the process starts with the Board assigning an investigator to your case. This investigation can include, and often does, obtaining information from other parties such as your employer without your knowledge.
· Typically, the first time you will know you are under investigation is when you receive a Notice of Complaint from the Board. DO NOT IGNORE THIS NOTICE! There are strict time limits in which you must respond. RESPONDING WITHOUT HAVING THE ADVICE OF AN ATTORNEY IS DANGEROUS. As you have heard on television crime shows, “anything you say can and will be used against you. The Board is not your friend!
· You may also receive a written questionnaire. You might also be contacted personally by the investigator and asked to come in for an interview. You are now under a magnifying glass. Everything you have done, not done, and even events seemingly unrelated to the complaint, will be investigated thoroughly. Again, the assistance of an experienced attorney is essential to protect your license. Attending the interview without an attorney can often be the worst decision you can make.
· Your attorney should conduct his own investigation independently from the Board’s investigator. While you may believe that the allegations raised in the complaint are untrue, that alone is not enough to avoid the charges from being brought to the Board for consideration of discipline.
· Once the investigation is complete, in most cases the Board will then present you with an agreement to resolve the complaint. This is called a “Consent Agreement.” SIGNING THE CONSENT AGREEMENT IS THE SAME AS PLEADING GUILTY TO ALL OF THE CHARGES SET FORTH IN THE AGREEMENT. If you sign the Consent Agreement you are giving up your right to present your case before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) before the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). WHILE YOU SHOULD HAVE ALREADY RETAINED AN ATTORNEY, DO NOT SIGN A CONSENT AGREEMENT WITHOUT FIRST CONSULTING AN ATTORNEY!
· If you decline to sign the Consent Agreement, your case will proceed to the Administrative Hearing. Would you represent yourself in criminal court if facing criminal charges? Of course not. The same is true when facing the loss of your nursing license.
Receiving a Notice of Complaint from the Board of Nursing is always stressful and concerning. There are many timelines which, if missed, could result in a decision against you. Do not take that chance. Retain an attorney early and work closely with your attorney to ensure the best possible outcome for your future.
** These tips are general in nature and not intended to be a substitute for legal advice based on facts particular to your case. This document does not create an attorney- client relationship and is provided for general informational purposes only.
Are you under the magnifying glass of the Arizona Board of Nursing?