Attention nurses facing complaints before the board of nursing of west virginia
Did you know that the Board of Nursing is required to complete its investigation, conduct a hearing and reach a final decision in your case within a set amount of time? The State Legislature has enacted a stature that requires such action within roughly 18 months. The pertinent statute reads as follows:
”(c) Every board referred to in this chapter has a duty to investigate and resolve complaints which it receives and shall, within six months of the complaint being filed, send a status report to the party filing the complaint by certified mail with a signed return receipt and within one year of the status report’s return receipt date issue a final ruling, unless the party filing the complaint and the board agree in writing to extend the time for the final ruling.”
The Board of Nursing is notoriously slow in handling complaints against nurses, nurse practitioners, and other health care professionals whose licenses are regulated by it. It is not uncommon for the Board to wait form more than two years before scheduling a hearing. The Board typically assumes that discipline is warranted no matter what the complaint and, I believe,uses delay in the process in order to pressure the responding nurse to enter into a consent order that seems always to include discipline regardless of the merits of the complaint or the nurse’s explanation for what occurred and why.
The pendency of a complaint before the Board of Nursing, regardless of the merits, is an impediment to that nurse’s continued employability and works an economic hardship on the nurse who has probably lost his or her job as a result of the complaint. If the nurse has a valid defense or reasonable explanation for the complaint, it terribly frustrating to be waiting for a hearing to defend the complaint and while waiting to be forced to seek employment in a field other than nursing until the matter can be finally be disposed of. In essence, the Board of Nursing ignores the above law and moves at its own deliberate pace, to the detriment of the nurse involved. I believe this is by design as part of a plan to force more nurses to give up their rights and enter into a consent order.
As an example, I am currently representing a nurse who had two similar complaints against her license that were initiated by hospitals three and four years ago. In the fourth year after the first complaint, the Board scheduled a hearing on three (3) separate occasions and on the day before each, the Board notified counsel thatthe hearing was being continued, with no explanation.The Board had not complied with the statute in any particular. No status report to the complainant by certified mail and no written agreement to extend the time for a final ruling.
I am challenging the Board’s power to act on the complaints against my client (subject matter jurisdiction) and also claiming that the Board has violated my client’s constitutional right to due process of law. By failing to comply with the above-quoted statute, I believe the Board has lost its power to act on the complaints against my client. I am also arguing that by arbitrarily deciding to continue a hearing without a cause or giving my an opportunity to object to a continuance, the Board delaying the process insidiously in order to force my client to enter into a consent order.