As we have discussed on our website, Registered Nurses during the pandemic have suffered unprecedented challenges. Even when emergency measures are eased and requirements are relaxed throughout California, hospitals remain ground zero for those suffering from COVID-19, including the highest acuity patients suffering from the most severe reactions to the disease. Nurses in hospitals on every floor, in clinics across the state, and in home health settings are the first line of defense against the terrible effects of the pandemic. RNs who have undertaken the duties of a charge nurse are particularly affected by these challenges, as they are often asked to manage their own patients as well as be responsible for emergent situations of every patient in their wing, floor, or patient care area.
We represented a charge nurse who worked in Labor & Delivery. Although our client was caring for her own patient at the time, she evaluated an expectant mother after being asked by a bedside nurse, identified signs of possible distress, and so she took her own patient to a private room and called for a physician to help the expectant mother. Managing the needs of two patients at once, our charge nurse completed her required duties for both patients within 30 minutes. Unfortunately, further examination revealed that the situation confronted by the expectant mother was serious, and the pregnancy ended tragically.
The Board of Registered Nursing alleged that our client was grossly negligent and unprofessional for not acting differently during the care of this patient. Through the careful evaluation of the Board’s expert testimony and an expert who reviewed the testimony on our client’s behalf, an Administrative Law Judge concluded that our client’s decisions were appropriate and within the standard of care. The Administrative Law Judge carefully evaluated the duties that our charge nurse had to both patients, and specifically found that our client appropriately and carefully treated both patients. The Accusation was dismissed against our client and the request for thousands of dollars in costs was denied.
The Board of Registered Nursing often attempts to discipline any nurse who is involved in a tragic patient outcome. However, even when the Board makes serious accusations against a nurse, and even when those allegations are supported by “expert” testimony, the credibility of that expert is a matter for an Administrative Law Judge to decide. An experienced administrative health care attorney will evaluate in every case whether expert testimony will be beneficial, and whether the Board’s experts are both familiar with the current standard of practice and apply it fairly and accurately to the nurse’s actions. If you are faced with allegations of negligence, incompetence, or unprofessional conduct, you should seek the assistance of Ray & Bishop, PLC license defense attorneys to navigate the Accusation made against you by the state.