Receipt of Initial Complaint Letter
The Texas Board of Nursing (BON) is a complaint-driven agency. The Board receives complaints concerning nurse licensees and nursing practice from a number of sources, including employers, other nurses, and numerous state and Federal agencies. The Board also opens their own investigations in certain circumstances. For example, Registered Nurses (RN) and Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN) currently must submit fingerprints with their application for renewal. The resulting background checks often uncover unreported criminal history, prompting Board staff to open their own investigations. Sometimes a review of a medical record in another matter being investigated will prompt the Texas Nursing Board Staff to initiate a letter of complaint.
After a complaint is received, Board staff will prioritize the complaints based on the seriousness of the offense and the potential danger the nurse poses. Priority 1 cases usually have credible evidence of convictions for serious crimes, or credible evidence of a violation of the Nursing Practice Act (Act) that shows deception, fraud, or injury to clients or the public (see Board Rule §213.13(c)).
Board staff must also set a timeline for the investigation that is not to exceed one year, and complaints extending beyond the timeline must be summarized to the Executive Director (see Board Rule §213.13(d)). Based on our experience as Texas professional nursing license defense attorneys, it is very common for Board staff to receive dispensation that would allow them to extend the investigation. We have had many investigations that have eclipsed the one year mark, and a few that have doubled or tripled that timeline. There is a recent trend of these matters being resolved more expediently, perhaps due to an influx of new staff positions.
After the Texas Board receives a complaint against a licensee, the first contact the licensee receives from the Board (whether they are an RN, LVN, CRNA, or APN) is a letter of investigation. (It should be noted that there are circumstances where the licensee will not receive a letter. If the investigation is in anticipation of a Temporary Suspension Hearing, or if the licensee’s knowledge of the investigation will jeopardize the investigation, no such notification will be provided by the Board. (see Board Rule §213.14(a)) This letter will state that the Board has received information that the licensee has violated of the Act, and will provide a (typically) vague statement of the facts constituting this violation (see Board Rule §213.14(b)). The licensee is instructed to file a written response to the allegations with the BON within 20 days of service, and complete the enclosed Statistical Data Questionnaire.
The allegations contained in the letter may seem jarring to the licensee. They may allege actions that are simply not true, and not close to the truth. The allegations may betray leaps of logic that, for example, equate one alcohol related arrest with an alleged substance abuse problem. This is common. When these letters are sent out, the investigator has likely not yet completed their investigation. Therefore, the statement of facts and related allegations will come at face value from the complaint and whatever evidence Staff of the Texas Board of nursing and its enforcement department have collected.
Contact An Attorney
Upon receiving a letter of investigation from the Board of Nursing, it is very wise to hire an experienced administrative law attorney to craft a response, and handle your case going forward. At the very least, you should contact a Texas Nursing License defense attorney experienced with the Texas State Board of Nursing to evaluate your options going forward. Often the licensee’s first response to the Board’s allegations will make a strong impression on how the case goes going forward. For more information or assistance with your case, contact the Leichter Law Office at 512-495-9995 today.