An investigation by IPN has cost me everything. When the case is resolved, would I have a lawsuit against it?

By | 2022-02-14T17:41:42-05:00 December 24th, 2010|0 Comments

Question:

Dear Nancy,

I was under investigation by my state’s board of nursing and was advised to voluntarily submit to an impaired program for nurses (IPN). The nursing board dropped the two cases against me because of insufficient findings.

IPN has opened a case against me, saying I am too psychiatrically unstable to practice nursing. They are demanding a psychiatric evaluation and that I get evaluated with the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). As a result, my RN license was suspended, and the board is demanding more than $4,000 to reimburse it for the cost of investigating me.

IPN told me I could not work as a nurse. I subsequently lost my house and two cars, and I am more than $500,000 in debt. My other nursing licenses are now in question. Once I comply and have my psychiatric evaluation and MMPI done, would I have a case against the state nursing board, state department of health or IPN?

Madeline

Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Madeline,

It is an understatement to suggest that you immediately contact a nurse attorney or attorney in your state to represent you in this situation and with the new case and who hopefully can suggest another nurse attorney or attorney to represent you in the other states wherein action may be taken against those licenses. Needless to say, this sounds like a complicated case with lots of factual issues that need to be evaluated carefully and in which you need excellent legal representation.

Generally speaking, boards of nursing have authority to investigate and take action against a nurse licensee and must do so within the limited powers delegated to them by state legislatures. If the board does not have the power to investigate charges, the state attorney general or other prosecutorial agency investigates such claims.

If the board makes a determination that exceeds its authority, a nurse licensee can file a lawsuit challenging the board’s power, including an administrative review by the court (time limited), asking the court to prohibit the board from going forward with its investigation (injunction), and asking the court to interpret the board’s power and the nurse practice act as it applies in this situation (declaratory judgment). These cases are difficult to win because most courts defer to a state agency’s authority unless its action against a nurse licensee is clearly arbitrary, capricious, discriminatory or an abuse of discretion, as examples. Your attorney can discuss the requirements of an administrative review and these causes of action with you.

Also, keep in mind that if a board has a concern about a nurse licensee’s ability to practice safely and competently, the board can require physical and/or mental examinations if there is cause to do so. Your attorney will discuss this with you as well.

Sincerely,
Nancy

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