Nurses are vital to the healthcare system. The stereotypical perception of people who pursue this profession is one of warm individuals who prefer a hands-on, caretaking role to the more clinical role of doctoring. Perhaps the public needs to buy into this narrative, as vulnerable individuals inevitably trust nurses with the bulk of their care in a hospital setting. Nurses have access to extremely sensitive information and medication. As such, they have the potential to commit damaging—even criminal—acts using the details and drugs they have access to.
Here are some ways that nurses lose their licenses:
- Refusing to enter a substance abuse program if they have a problem. While struggling with drug or alcohol dependency alone is grounds for license revocation, some nursing boards will suspend a license and allow the individual to enter a recovery program.
- Impersonating a professional nurse, which is not only identity theft but also operating without a license. This will result in criminal charges.
- Misdirection of drugs. This usually means holding drugs back from the intended patient in order to give them to another person or for personal use.
- Falsifying patient records. Keeping accurate records of medication dosage and time as well as vital signs and other indicators of a patient’s status is an essential part of a nurse’s role. Failing to maintain precise documentation could not only harm the patient but could also result in loss of license.
- Unprofessional conduct. This can affect an employee at any company. One might even say that the standard for conduct in the medical field is especially high, given the stressful environment. In a workplace where emotions run high, it is even more important that conduct be above reproach. If it crosses the line, a license can be revoked.
- Patient abuse and neglect. As this is a key job responsibility for nurses, failure to care for the patients appropriately will have severe consequences. Those convicted of going past neglect into the abuse category will experience even more serious ramifications.
These are just a few ways that nurses can lose their professional license. Nurses who find their jobs or professional license at risk should consider speaking to a lawyer about their options for a defense.