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 North Dakota Board of Nursing (NDBON), 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 (ND) may report the alleged violation to the NDBON.
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 submit a complaint?
Complaints must be submitted online through the NDBON website by choosing the ‘Compliance-Discipline’ tab, then the ‘Reporting Violations’ tab. Complete the Potential Violation Report (PVR) by clicking on the green ‘Submit PVR’ button at the bottom of the page. Submit the form in the most complete manner possible and include a written synopsis of the nature of the complaint with detail. You may attach additional documentation if desired.
What happens once a complaint is filed?
- When a PVR is received by the NDBON, 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 Advisory Council of the NDBON 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 full-convened Board for final action.
- The complainant is notified of the final disposition in the case.
What disciplinary sanctions can the NDBON impose against a licensee?
The NDBON can impose various disciplinary sanctions against a nurse for violations of the Nurse Practices Act, including, reprimand, probation, suspension, revocation, surrender, cease and desist, and emergency suspension. Additionally, penalty fees for each separate violation of the Nurse Practice Act 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 NDBON 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?
It is permissible for a nurse to continue nursing practice during an investigation if the nurse 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 NDBON 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 nurse named in the allegation may be given a copy of the PVR as they must 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. The complainant may also choose to remain anonymous, by not including their name and contact information when submitting the PVR. Anonymous complaints are more difficult to investigate since contacting the complainant to obtain additional information is not possible. In the case of an anonymous submission, the complainant cannot be notified of the final disposition in the matter.
What may happen to the nurse?
The mission of the NDBON is to protect the public through thorough investigation of every complaint in a fair and ethical manner. If the NDBON determines a nurse who 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. Consideration is given to the potential risk of harm to patients and 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 NDBON 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 with the final decision made by the NDBON.
Who do I contact with complaint questions?
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org