How to Handle Nursing Licensing Complaints in One Piece

California nurses license

Being a nurse can be a thankless job. Many medical environments that nurses work in are understaffed, making it very common for nurses to be overworked and under-appreciated. In fact, almost all nursing homes (91% to be exact) do not have the staff required to meet the needs of their patients, who require around-the-clock care. This means that nurses have to do the work of more than one employee, for incredibly long hours, every day. What is worse, when exhaustion and burnout lead to mistakes on the part of the nurse, the patient has the option of filing a formal complaint with the Board of Nursing, which puts the nurses career and professional licensing on the line. Very few other careers create an environment where mistakes are inevitable, yet come with such a harsh consequence.


If you are a registered nurse and are under investigation for a formal complaing, we recommend taking the following actions.

  1. Review your malpractice insurance coverage.

    As soon as you find out about a medical malpractice complaint against your nursing license, you should contact your malpractice insurance provider for more information on your next steps. Your malpractice insurance coverage may be able to help you defend your license, at no cost to you.


    However, it’s highly likely that you did not have such coverage. Most nurses can go through their entire career without needing any sort of malpractice insurance. Do not despair if this is you, just proceed to the next step.
  2. Contact a nurse license defense attorney.

    We cannot stress how important it is to have a nurse license defense attorney working on your behalf, as early in the process as possible. Your nurse license defense attorney will be familiar with the investigation process, and create a course of action to best defend your career. In many cases, it is advantageous to use a nurse license defense attorney who specializes in your area of expertise. The nursing field has a broad spectrum of specialties, and common complaints in one line of nursing will be very different than another. Finding an attorney who is experienced in your nursing specialty will often result in the best outcome.


    Getting a nursing defense lawyer involved in the process immediately is crucial for reaching the best outcome. Many times, when a formal complaint is lodged against a nurse, they experience a wide range of emotions: perhaps anxiety, frustration, uncertainty, and embarrassment. It can be very difficult to take the step to reach out to a defense lawyer because it means delving in immersing themselves into the issue that led them there. However, by getting an attorney involved in the process right away, they often go through less emotional duress in the long-run, as it offers the attorney the best opportunity to have the entire case dismissed, without having it go to a hearing or any other official capacity at all. Not to mention, an attorney who has chosen to dedicate their career to defending professionals in the nursing field is not going to be surprised or judgmental of any of the circumstances in your case.
  3. Approach your situation seriously.

    Even if you feel like the complaint lodged against you is so ridiculous it does not deserve the time of day, you should take it seriously. One of the biggest pitfalls in having a negative outcome in a formal nursing board investigation is just not taking the complaint seriously enough to proactively build your own defense. Is incredibly important to respond to any formal complaint lodged against you in a professional and timely manner. The nursing licensing board holds your livelihood and future in their hands.

  4. Do not communicate with anyone regarding your case without your attorney’s involvement.

    You may be contacted by the board officiants, investigators, or the complainant regarding your situation. Even if the party contact you seems friendly or working on your behalf, do not give them any information without involving your lawyer. As your Miranda rights state, “Anything you say can and will be used against you.” It could also hurt your lawyer’s ability to build a defense on your behalf.

Do you have any other advice for surviving a formal complaint against your nursing license in one piece? Please share in the comment section below!

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