Enforcement Frequently Asked Questions
1. What types of complaints are jurisdictional to the BRN?
- Drug/alcohol abuse
- Gross negligence/incompetence, resulting in patient endangerment
- Patient abuse and neglect
- Sexual, violent, or abusive offenses
- Fraud or theft offenses
- Mentally impaired and unsafe to practice
- Other acts or convictions substantially related to the practice of nursing
- Practicing nursing without a license
- RNs on probation who have violated their probation conditions
2. What types of complaints are outside the BRN’s jurisdiction?
- Interpersonal conflicts
- Employee-employer relations
- Labor issues
- Rudeness or impolite behavior
- Billing disputes
- Complaints against health care practitioners that are not RNs
- Complaints against health care facilities, clinics, or agency operations
3. Can someone file an anonymous complaint?
Yes, the BRN will accept anonymous complaints. However, complaints that do not include the name of the person involved or do not include specific details, including dates and times, list of witnesses or contacts, as well as any documentary evidence are difficult to adequately investigate. If a complainant “confidentially” provides his or her name, address or phone number, the BRN cannot and does not guarantee anonymity if the case goes to hearing because you have a right to confront and cross examine witnesses as part of the appeals process.
4. How will a complaint be processed?
Within 10 days after receipt of a complaint, the BRN sends the complainant written notification of receipt. Enforcement Program staff evaluate the complaint and obtain any additional preliminary information needed. This is done for appropriate prioritization. Depending on this step, the complaint is handled in one or more of the following ways:
- Close non-jurisdictional Complaints that do not fall within the BRN’s jurisdictional authority are closed and referred to the appropriate agency.
- Refer to the Diversion Program Complaints involving chemical dependency, alcohol abuse, or mental illness are referred and evaluated for eligibility for the Diversion Program.
- Refer to the Nursing Education Consultant (NEC) For nursing practice complaints, Board NECs may conduct the initial investigation to further assess the complaint. The NECs and/or outside experts may also become involved in the analysis of DOI reports.
- Refer to the Division of Investigation (DOI) Complaints which appear to involve a violation of the Nursing Practice Act are referred to the DOI for an investigation.
5. Who conducts the investigation?
DOI employs sworn peace officers to conduct investigations on behalf of the BRN.
6. What happens during an investigation?
The investigator will interview the nurse licensee and, as needed, interview the complainant, patient, co-workers and employers. The investigator will also gather documentation, such as patient records, personnel records, etc., from relevant sources. After all pertinent information is collected, the investigator prepares a report for the BRN.
7. Can a complainant check on the status of a complaint I filed?
A complainant generally does not receive status updates or investigative details after the initial complaint is made and complaint information is gathered. Enforcement Program staff does not discuss details or give status updates on complaints pending investigation. Complaints are confidential and are not public record unless an accusation is filed.
8. What does “Accusation Filed” mean?
If there is sufficient evidence to substantiate a violation of the Nursing Practice Act, a pleading is filed by the BRN with the Attorney General’s Office. The RN is sent an accusation, which is a legal document that lists formal charges, and is given an opportunity to dispute the charges at an administrative hearing or negotiate a stipulated agreement. The accusation is a public record. The complainant will be notified in writing if an accusation is served upon the RN.
9. How long will it take to resolve a complaint?
This depends on the complexity of a complaint and the type of review necessary to address the allegation. It also depends on whether a complaint is substantiated. Therefore, the complaint can take anywhere from several months to a couple of years to resolve.
10. What does “Closed without Merit” mean?
After review and/or investigation, evidence was not found to substantiate a violation of the Nursing Practice Act.
11. What does “Closed with Merit” mean?
The violation did not reach a level where the Attorney General’s Office could substantiate the imposition of limitations or restrictions on the registered nurse’s license. However the complaint will be maintained on file for future reference.
12. What does “Citation and Fine” mean?
In lieu of filing an accusation, a citation, which may contain an administrative fine and/or order of abatement, can be issued for lesser violations of the Nursing Practice Act.