Nurse Fights False Allegations, Seeks Legal Recourse Against Accuser

By | 2021-08-24T12:30:58-04:00 August 23rd, 2021|1 Comment

An RN said her ex-boyfriend caused her to lose her job and reported false allegations against her to the board of nursing.

She said the board determined the allegations to be false and did not act against her after its investigation was complete. She wondered what legal recourse she now has against the ex-boyfriend.

It is unfortunate to hear that false allegations against a nurse can have such devastating results. Although it is not known what the allegations against this RN were, there are some guidelines that may help you should you ever be in a similar situation.

Don’t Overlook Your Employer’s Grievance Policy

As I have emphasized in other blogs, when you are terminated from your employment for any reason, it is important to grieve that termination through your employer’s grievance procedure if it allows you to contest a termination.

Doing so honestly and providing facts and any evidence you can produce is essential.

If you have a good work record, use your personnel record in the proceeding. That record also can be used in legal cases, including board of nursing proceedings.

In this RN’s case, the grievance is vital because the allegations were untrue. Not challenging them lends credence to them.

Not grieving false accusations at the employment level (especially when coming from an ex-boyfriend) that may or may not be about your professional practice is perilous.

You can be certain that board members will ask why the allegations were not disputed if untrue.

Possible Remedies Against an Accuser’s False Allegations

1) State Nurse Practice Act and Rules

A promising legal course of action against someone who reports false accusations to a board of nursing rests within the nurse practice act itself.

Look for a provision in your act governing reports to the board. Its contents would state something to the effect that anyone who reports to a board is doing so in good faith and that good faith is presumed.

If a report is made under this prerequisite, the person reporting is immune from any civil or criminal liability as a result of the reporting.

In good faith, also called bona fide, is legally defined in many ways, including “accurate,” “honest,” “legitimate,” and “without malice towards another.”

Since the ex-boyfriend’s accusations were found to be untrue by the RN’s board of nursing, there is a real possibility his reporting was not made in good faith.

Seeking legal advice from a nurse attorney or attorney to determine if a criminal or civil case could be filed against the ex-boyfriend would be this RN’s next step.

It is important to note that she would need to overcome the presumption of good faith granted him with proof that a criminal or civil court would consider in making a ruling about the reporting.

One fact that might be helpful in the criminal or civil case would be the grievance process and documents that she used when grieving the termination, even if the grievance was not decided in her favor.

Nurse practice acts granting this protection and any recourse available for a bad faith reporting may vary from state to state.

2) Filing a Civil Case for Defamation of Character

A second, promising cause of action against the ex-boyfriend or someone who has falsely reported claims against you would be a civil suit for defamation.

Defamation includes two torts: libel (in writing) and slander (spoken). It is not known how the ex-boyfriend shared his false allegations with the RN’s employer or the board of nursing. In either case, defamation is based on an invasion of one’s “good name and reputation”.

In this RN’s case, it is assumed that whatever was said or written about her involved her profession as an RN. As such, the law treats the sharing as libel per se and slander per se. The RN would not be required to prove damages as a result of the untrue statements.

Rather, damages are presumed and can include compensatory, special, punitive, and exemplary damages.

It is not known if any of these possible options will be or have been explored by the RN. One thing is certain — she, like you, need to seek legal advice and representation as soon as possible when untrue allegations are conveyed to another and those allegations damage your good name and reputation in your profession.


Take these courses to learn more about protecting patients and yourself:

Protect Yourself: Know Your Nurse Practice Act
(1 contact hr)
Nurses have an obligation to keep abreast of current issues related to the regulation of the practice of nursing not only in their respective states but also across the nation. Nurses have a duty to patients to practice in a safe, competent, and responsible manner. This requires nurse licensees to practice in conformity with their state statutes and regulations. This course outlines information about nurse practice acts and how they affect nursing practice.

Everyday Ethics for Nurses
(7.3 contact hrs)
This course provides an overview of bioethics as it applies to healthcare and nursing in the U.S. The course explains the elements of ethical decision-making as they apply both to the care of patients and to ethics committees. The course concludes with a look at the ethical challenges involved in physician-assisted suicide, organ transplantation, and genetic testing.

HIPAA and Confidentiality: Practice May Change, But Principles Endure
(1 contact hr)
In this course, you will learn about parts of HIPAA, especially as they concern nursing and other health professionals and the protection of healthcare information. Because you play a key role in the production of healthcare information, you play a key role in its protection.

About the Author:

Our legal information columnist Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN, 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 and has published extensively in the area of law and nursing practice. She brings more than 40 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. 

One Comment

  1. Vicky irons August 29, 2021 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    I need to know how to get in touch with this nurse and the lawyer as well. I work for home health in Florida. My patient advised me that she had a covid test and her doctor who she had an appointment with and went to that they refused to see her because of her symptoms – fever, cough, etc. He sent her to the ER. When she arrived they took a test. That was Thursday. On Friday I went in to change her dressing and she told me this story. I quickly finished and then I went to my car and called the home health company I work for. They told me just go see your other patients. I said what if she has covid. They said that it doesn’t matter; that I have to finish the people on my list today. I said but they’re all home in their convalescing and they’re very sick people and I don’t want to spread it if she has it. I was with her at least 25 minutes before she told me the story. They said I have to do it. I said I can’t in good conscience. I can’t do that and can we just wait until Monday until she gets her test results back. They said no you have to do this. I said I can’t do it. I can do it, but I’m not going to do it because I don’t want to have any of these people get covid from me. They said if you don’t do it we’re ending your contract. I said maybe we could just wait til Monday. So they took me off the schedule and they let me go. The patient called me and told me that her test came back negative. I asked her if she could please send that to the agency I work for. When I went to pick up my check, they told me they never got it which leads me to believe that she does have covid or did have covid. Anyway I’m out of work. Is there anything that I can do about this?

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