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Managing a complaint against your nursing license

The health care industry is in a state of flux. Demand is driving insurers and providers to find new ways to maintain quality and access at lower cost. One result is that more diagnostic and preventive care is in the hands of nurses and physician assistants. That in turn means anyone in one of those professions may find his or her license under threat.

Complaints to licensing boards can come from any source. Even a disgruntled ex-lover or spouse can file a grievance. Considering that boards are regulatory bodies, those with experience in certification administration and licensure defense agree any complaint should be taken seriously and responded to. However, knowing what action to take can be hard to sort out amid the emotions you likely will be feeling.

What to do

Many experts advise that the first thing to keep in mind is that the licensing board is a disciplinary body. Its main responsibility is to protect the public, so a complaint can't be ignored. With that in mind, the next wise move is to consult an attorney skilled in the administrative processes who can serve as your advocate before regulators.

From a preventive perspective, it wise to have professional liability insurance. Many nurses don't carry this protection because they think it only covers costs in major malpractice suits. But there are policies that provide coverage for license defense costs.

Taking the initiative to show you are addressing complaint-related concerns can also prove helpful. Working with your attorney, you might identify areas to improve your practice before you are called before the board. At that meeting, showing what action you've already taken can position you for negotiating a better outcome.

Whatever you do, do not allow any feeling of embarrassment prevent you from reaching out to those in the best position to help you navigate this difficult time.

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