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Is a nurse obligated to hand over his license to a patient?

Dear Nancy,

The place I work provides patients with a form in which they would write down my RN license number if they wanted to file a complaint against me. It has been only a few weeks since the patients have these forms. Am I obligated to hand over my license to a patient?


Dear Ed,

This practice sounds a little odd. If a patient were to sue you for whatever reason, most state boards of nursing have the name and the license number of a licensed nurse on their websites. The information is available mainly to allow employers to determine if a prospective applicant is really licensed in the state in which he or she is applying for a job. In short, this information is readily available to the public, a particular public member or his or her attorney.

It is unclear why the employer would support this practice. It certainly makes one question the employer’s motive. Is it because the employer is hoping to make it somewhat easier for a patient to include a nurse in any lawsuit against it?

The other problem with this practice is what the former patient might do with your name and license number on the form. Will he or she shred it when the individual decides the information is not needed? Will the information be lost somewhere? Would the lost information be used by an individual who decides to try and pass himself or herself as you and as a registered nurse? Despite the fact the information is available on a state board of nursing’s website, you should protect your license information as much as one can.

You might want to raise this issue with your CNO to determine the rationale behind it and share your concerns with him or her. Another option might be to see if your state board of nursing has written an opinion on this practice on its website. Many boards publish comments, concerns and information about the practice of nursing in the state in addition to disciplinary actions taken against nurse licensees, renewal of license information and more.

Cordially, Nancy

By | 2021-05-07T16:33:17-04:00 July 10th, 2015|Categories: Nursing Careers and Jobs|0 Comments

About the Author:

Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN
Our legal information columnist Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN, received her Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and concentrates her solo law practice in health law and legal representation, consultation and education for healthcare professionals, school of nursing faculty and healthcare delivery facilities. Brent has conducted many seminars on legal issues in nursing and healthcare delivery across the country and has published extensively in the area of law and nursing practice. She brings more than 30 years of experience to her role of legal information columnist. Her posts are designed for educational purposes only and are not to be taken as specific legal or other advice. Individuals who need advice on a specific incident or work situation should contact a nurse attorney or attorney in their state. Visit The American Association of Nurse Attorneys website to search its attorney referral database by state.

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