The Law Offices of Brian E. Quinn

A continuum of sanctions: Snapshots from the PA Board of Nursing

Last month, the Pennsylvania Department of State issued a report on disciplinary actions taken so far this year by the 29 professional-licensing boards it oversees.

It is instructive to consider the types of disciplinary actions that are included. They show, for one thing, that there is a range of sanctions directed at medical professionals' licenses.

In this post, we will look at snapshots of some of these sanctions from the Pennsylvania Board of Nursing (the board), in cases acted upon by the board so far this year.

One type of sanction that can be directed against a nurse's license is suspension for a specific period of time. For example, in a case from Chester County, the board suspended the license of a nurse for three years for violating the conditions of a previous order by the board.

A criminal offense can trigger an automatic suspension for a specific period of time. For example, the license of a nurse in Erie County was automatically suspended for a year for a misdemeanor drug conviction. This also happened in Mifflin County.

Another nurse in Erie County was automatically suspended for ten years due to a felony drug conviction.

Sometimes, when there is a definite period of suspension, the board will stay the suspension and instead place the nurse on a probationary status. This happened in Fayette County, where the board stayed a one-year license suspension for misappropriation of drugs. The nurse in that case was required to complete eight hours of ethics education from a continuing education provider approved by the board.

License suspensions can also be for an indefinite period. The Nursing Board has issued several such suspensions this year.

In some cases, nurses agree as part of the disciplinary process to voluntarily surrender their licenses. This happened in a case from Erie County involving a practical nurse. In that case, the Nursing Board also placed a public reprimand on the nurse's permanent record.

In short, nurses, like other medical professionals, face a continuum of license sanctions.

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The Law Offices of Brian E. Quinn
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