FAQs Related to Complaints, Investigations, and Disciplinary Actions
Who can file a complaint against a nurse?
Anyone, including a public citizen, patient, family member, co-worker, employer, facility, other regulatory agencies, and even the Board, may file a complaint against a licensed nurse for alleged violations of the Nurse Practices Act. Any person who has knowledge of conduct by a licensed nurse that may have violated a nursing law or rule in North Dakota may report the alleged violation to the North Dakota Board of Nursing.
However, as stated in the Nurse Practices Act (NDCC 43-12.1-11), the law mandates licensees to report to the Board any knowledge of the performance by others those acts or omissions that are violations of the Nurse Practices Act or grounds for disciplinary action set forth in NDCC 43-12.1-14.
How do I know what to include with my complaint?
Complete the Potential Violation Report form. Submit the form to the ND Board of Nurisng in the most complete manner possible and include a written synopsis of the nature of the complaint with detail.
What happens once a complaint is filed?
- When a request for investigation is received by the North Dakota Board of Nursing, the information is reviewed to determine whether jurisdiction exists and whether the alleged practice or behavior, if true, violates the law or regulations that govern the licensee’s practice.Once these two conditions are met, an investigation is initiated.The nurse is notified of the complaint and asked to submit a written response to the board.
- The pending matter is investigated, interviews are conducted, records are obtained, and evidence is reviewed.
- The completed investigation is reviewed by the Compliance Panel of the North Dakota Board of Nursing to determine if evidence exists to support a violation of the Nurse Practices Act.
- Cases that are dismissed due to lack of evidence to support a violation of the Nurse Practices Act are resolved at this level.
- If the evidence obtained during the investigation supports the allegations of a violation of the Nurse Practices Act, a disciplinary settlement may be discussed with the licensee, outlining the facts of the violations and the appropriate sanctions.
- All disciplinary actions must be taken to the Board of Nursing for final action.
What disciplinary sanctions can the Board of Nursing impose against a licensee?
The Board can impose various disciplinary sanctions against a nurse for violations of the Nurse Practices Act, including, reprimand, probation, suspension, revocation, surrender, and emergency suspension. Additionally, penalty fees for each separate violation may be imposed against the licensee following any disciplinary action. Costs and disbursements, including witness fees, and reimbursement of the board’s expenses in any administrative hearing or other proceeding, may be recovered from the licensee following any disciplinary action.
How long will it take to resolve a complaint?
Depending on the complexity and nature of the case, availability of information, coordination and cooperation of witnesses and the licensee, the disciplinary process, including the investigation, proceeding, and disposition of a case, can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to a year or more. Each case is unique and needs to be considered on its own merits. On average, cases are resolved within 45-60 days from the date they are received in the board office until the date the investigation is completed and the matter is resolved.
Can a nurse continue to practice nursing while there is a pending investigation against him/her?
The ability to continue nursing practice during an investigation is permissible as long as the nurse who is under investigation maintains a current nursing license and there is no evidence of immediate threat to patient safety.
Is there a timeframe requirement to file a complaint?
The North Dakota Board of Nursing does not have a time limit to file a complaint. However, complaints that are not submitted in a timely manner may be more difficult to investigate.
Will the nurse know who submitted the complaint?
The person named in the allegation may be given a copy of the Potential Violation Report in order for the Respondent to submit a written response to the allegations. Such document may be an open or public record under NDCC 44-04-18. However, if disclosure of the identity of the complainant poses a risk to the person making the complaint, the complainant’s identifying information may be redacted.
What may happen to the nurse?
The mission of the North Dakota Board of Nursing is to protect the public and aims to accurately and efficiently investigate every complaint in a fair and appropriate manner. If the Board determines that the nurse who has engaged in activities with the potential for endangering the health, safety, and welfare of the public needs to be monitored or separated from nursing practice, a variety of actions may be initiated, taking into consideration the potential risk of harm to patients as well as mitigating and aggravating circumstances in the nursing care delivery system. Most cases are resolved with an informal stipulated settlement. This type of settlement agreement between the nurse and the Board eliminates the need for an administrative hearing. However, if the nurse contests the charges, a formal complaint is filed and an administrative hearing is scheduled before an administrative law judge. Following the hearing, the administrative hearing officer makes a recommendation to the Board with the final decision made by the Board of Nursing.