Your license is a privilege and not a right. Just as your driver’s license can be suspended, so can your nursing license. The Board needs only to provide you with reasonable notice which could mean the day before or even, and I have seen it, the morning of a hearing. In the hearing the State must show that you are a clear and immediate danger to the public. If there is a situation with any concern that drugs are missing or you have criminal charges related to your honesty and trustworthiness or even your ability to provide prudent care, the Board can summarily suspend your license for up to 90 days.
Although the State must prove that you are a clear and immediate threat to the public, I recently had an experience where the Board considered the charges alone as ample evidence to suspend the nurse’s license.
With this bad news, you’re probably asking “Now, what do I do about it?”
Most nurses will never find themselves in this situation. Just be proactive and protect your nursing license as you would your driver’s license. Practice nursing safely and avoid situations where there could be any concerns about you ability to practice.
Also, hospitals now have tracking systems in their Pyxis or Omnicell to see if your narcotic administration is the same or similar to your co-workers. If your narcotic administration is higher, the Board may call you in. Your job may have concerns as well as the Board.
If you are a nurse who is really concerned about your patient’s pain and want to stay on top of it, make sure that your colleagues have the same philosophy. Some nurses believe that pain meds should be delivered only when a person asks and other nurses try to help their patients to really stay on top of the pain. Again, just make sure that the philosophy on your unit is the same so that you don’t stand out.
Always remember that your license is a privilege and not a right. Always protect it as you would any other privilege.