HCPs have to meet high standards if they want to keep practicing. Because of this, serious disciplinary issues can lead to serious consequences. At best, you may end up facing a fine or a stern warning. If you are not careful, you may end up losing your license altogether. Given how difficult and costly becoming an HCP can be, you want to avoid these suspensions at all costs. With enough due diligence and awareness, this should not be a problem.
Revocation vs Suspension
When you read the licensure laws of your state, you may notice the use of ‘suspension’ and ‘revocation.’ Admittedly, both terms end up being used interchangeably. In some cases, you are completely stripped of your right to practice and your credentials. In other instances, you are temporarily restricted from practicing for a fixed period of time. To be sure of whether or not an offense leads to a temporary or permanent loss of licensure, contact your Board of Nursing or look for clarification on their website.
For our purposes, we use “suspension” to refer to a temporary loss of licensure, and “revocation” to refer to a permanent loss of licensure.
How can a HCP lose their license?
Though different states have different HCP regulations, there are a number of transgressions that are frowned upon in any context.
HCPs can be convicted of gross negligence or misconduct, in the workplace. Examples of this include purposefully making mistakes when drawing blood or collecting samples that could lead to further illness or harm for the patient. Intentional errors when documenting patient data or purposefully providing the wrong medications are another good example. If you have been convicted of gross misconduct within the last three years, it is very likely that your license will be revoked.
HCPs are expected to meet a certain standard of professionalism. They need to treat their co-workers and patients with respect, without being overly familiar or encroaching on their personal space without consent. If you flirt or interact appropriately with fellow facility workers or residents, physically or mentally abusing someone, or engage in affairs with co-workers, a complaint can be filed against you. If it is successful, it may end up with you getting your license suspended.
Creating forged documents
Like with any worker, HCPs will be asked to present a number of documents, before they can take on work. This includes your nursing license, additional certifications, vaccination cards, birth certificates, and more. If you are caught falsifying these credentials, the consequences could prove to be disastrous. Beyond legal implications, HCPs are expected to be transparent and honest in their conduct. Without this, patients will not trust them when it comes to sensitive procedures or collecting sensitive information. Doing this directly undermines your integrity and qualifications.
Fraudulent patient documentation
HCPs are asked to accurately document patient data, throughout the care process. They need to accurately collect and store information, regarding a patient’s medical history, response to treatment, and more in an honest and accurate manner. Failing to do so can be seen as gross negligence, and can put your license in jeopardy. Creating documents that are either falsified or inaccurate is also greatly frowned upon, if not moreso.
Failure of practice
You can also lose your license due to ‘scope of practice” failures. Simply failing to meet the professional standards of your facility or state can put your licensure in jeopardy. Providing services or attempting to perform duties outside your purview is also strictly forbidden. Nurse aides cannot prescribe medications or carry out the tasks of a physician, for example.
HCPs cannot show up to work inebriated or under the influence. When you are drunk or on drugs, your focus is dulled, your emotions are potentially more volatile, and you are in no state to provide lifesaving care to patients in need. HCPs also cannot get caught Driving Under the Influence. You can be suspended or your license is revoked entirely, if you get convinced with a DUI charge.
Only touching the surface
HCPs can lose their licenses in a variety of ways. Each state has their own definitions for professional misconduct, and each state handles licensure stripping in different ways. This list is by no means comprehensive, but it hits on some of the most common causes for license revocation.
How do I avoid losing my license?
With regards to quality of work and conduct, a lot is asked from an HCP. Across all levels, healthcare professionals must make a conscious effort to meet those expectations in and out of the clinic. If you do this, then preserving your licensure should be relatively simple.
Provided that you exercise self control, and do not drink before a shift, then there is nothing wrong with drinking in moderation. With the options at our disposal, there is no excuse for drinking while driving either. Be sure to go out with a friend who can call a Grab or taxi for you, if you end up overdrinking. If you have a serious problem with drugs or alcohol, then never be ashamed to seek intervention. Do not be afraid to join a support group or get consultations with a medical professional.
Stay in your lane
Whether you are a nurse aide, registered nurse, or practical nurse, all HCPs have a particular scope of practice. They have tasks they can carry out, tasks they can only perform under the supervision of another HCP, and tasks they cannot fulfill under any circumstances. The scope of duties is outlined by the Nurse Practice Act, which is then interpreted and implemented by the state legislature. If you are ever unsure about the scope of your authority, you can consult the NPA, state legislature, or your state board of nursing directly. If a patient insists that you provide a service, and you are unsure if it is within your purview, consult a superior or supervisor for help and/or clarity.
Diligently document patient information
Be thorough when it comes to documenting patient information. It provides an invaluable reference point for current and future care. In addition, this information can be vital with regards to billing or potential legal disputes. Above all else, it can help further elevate the standards of safety and care for your healthcare workplace. Write all the information down as accurately as possible, and submit it in a timely manner. Review everything you write, and make sure all the relevant information is documented.
A healthcare facility is supposed to be an environment of professionals. You need to show each co-worker, manager, and patient the respect they deserve. Feel free to build a rapport, but keep things professional. Do not get overly familiar, or vulgar with facility personnel and residents, especially if you do not have an established relationship with them. Avoid inappropriate physical contact at all times, and respect patient privacy as outlined by HIPAA. Even if a co-worker gets under your skin, do your best to remain cordial with them. You also want to keep your social media profiles private, as what you say there may reflect on your standing as an HCP and with the facility.
This may be the simplest suggestion, but it is no less important. At its core, healthcare workers must be honest, and ethically upright individuals. They need to show genuine concern for both a patient’s wellbeing and safety, during the care process. Without this strength of character, patients would not trust nurses with their lives. A good place to start is with facility protocol. Each facility has their own policies and procedures. These are outlined to guide an HCP’s actions and behaviors towards a more ethical place. On a deeper level, the American Nurses Association developed a Code of Ethics for Nurses. If you are ever in doubt, you can consult this page and see if your actions line up with its stipulations.