What to Do If the Nursing Board Takes Action Against You: A Lawyer and Former RN Advises

At 7 AM, when RN Michelle Flacco took over the care of 66-year-old Lester Scanlon, who had dementia and type 1 diabetes, she was notified that his blood glucose level was significantly elevated, at greater than 550 mg/dL. Ms. Flacco performed blood glucose tests three times during her shift, each time after Mr. Scanlon had eaten a meal, and each time his blood glucose level was elevated. However, Ms. Flacco didn’t notify Mr. Scanlon’s physician, nor did she administer insulin to the patient. The next shift, Mr. Scanlon was found unresponsive, with a very elevated blood glucose level. He was diagnosed with diabetic coma. The incident was reported to Ms. Flacco’s state board of nursing, and she was accused of professional incompetence. The board is seeking revocation of her RN license.

That’s the opening of “You’re Being Investigated by Your State Nursing Board” in the June issue of AJN. The case described is a composite, but it illustrates a situation that a nurse can find herself or himself in. The article, currently open access, is by Margaret E. Mangin, who practiced nursing for 12 years before becoming an attorney. For the past 26 years, she has practiced law in San Diego, primarily defending hospitals, nurses, and other health care providers. This is the latest installment of our Legal Clinic column. You might want to check it out. The table below gives the most frequent licensing violations, 1996 to 2006.

Table 1. Most Frequent Licensing Violations, 1996 to 2006 (click image for larger version)

(Please do note: We hope you’ll find the article helpful, and we welcome comments, which we now moderate. But this isn’t the best place for advocacy or extensive outward linking related to recent controversial cases that have been exhaustively treated elsewhere as well as in previous posts on this blog; we reserve in advance the right to not approve them for posting, or to remove similar repetitive linking from our Facebook page, if need be. Thank you in advance!)—Jacob Molyneux, senior editor

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Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.


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  2. Mega June 20, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Actually, you only have to be an RN, which means you could have an Associate’s degree.In my area, the OR nusres don’t actually touch the patient except to help prep for the surgery. Scrub Techs are the ones with their hands in all the action with the doc. LPNs used to do their job, but not usually in today’s hospitals.

  3. Cheryl June 9, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with the previous statement!

  4. suki June 2, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Student nurses in their last Block NEED to be educated on how precarious their potential career can be. Educators need to be telling them the truth on how their nursing career can be turned upside down in a heartbeat. The truth needs to come out. Also, nurse pisses someone off at their hospital…………….you are now a target to be reported. Seen it so many times.

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