“Lorie Brown is both a nurse and attorney. She’s fighting for nurses who are currently suspended or on probation to return and aid in the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.” [Read Full Article]
Nursing And Ethical Issues
It is unusual for a matter before the Nursing Board to find its way into the court system primarily because of the cost. Recently, in Pennsylvania, one case did exactly that and wound up in court brought by an LPN.
In this particular case an LPN was charged on July 16, 2014 with 3 counts of drug related offenses and a count of disorderly conduct. To the charge of disorderly conduct, she entered a nolo contendere plea where a guilty plea is entered but the Defendant does not admit to the crime. She pled nolle prossed to the other 3 charges which means they were dismissed.
The LPN denied engaging in these types of behaviors but the Board believed the court documents and suspended her license for a period of 6 months. The National Council State Board of Nursing for the years 1996 through 2006, collected information showing 126,130 (more nurses than tin the entire state of Indiana!) actions were taken against nurses. 13% consisted of suspension and 7% consisted of revocation. Suspension is the second most common taken action. Probation was the most common Board action taken.
But what is interesting about this particular case is that the Board based the suspension on the conviction of a crime of moral turpitude which is an active behavior that gravely violates the sentiment of accepted standard of the community. However, the Court of Appeals stated that it was not a crime of moral turpitude and disagreed with the Board’s interpretation.
In my limited experience with these types of appeals before a court, this is a great result! I would love to see more people question the Board and appeal their actions to a regular court so that the Board can stay in check. Unfortunately, these kinds of matters are very expensive to pursue. The Boards have unbridled authority to do what they wish … and this needs to stop! This was an LPN who appealed the decision and I am so glad that the court agreed with her.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.
Is There Disparity Between Medical Boards And Nursing Boards
On December 13, 2017, at Hiram Davis Medical Center in Petersburg, Virginia, a nurse was talking with Dr. Motsumi Moja while they were awaiting an elevator. During the conversation, he put his hand on her shoulder, removed his hand slowly, thus with intent, moving it across her breast. He then asked whether her breasts were real or fake
She was not only shocked, she was devastated!
The nurse reported the incident to the HR department but no response was forthcoming after several days. She was adamant in taking steps to ensure that this doctor would not violate anyone else. She spoke with her director of nursing who assured the nurse that immediate action would be taken and the police were called.
Dr. Moja was charged and found guilty of sexual assault and battery. Then, he was reported to the Board which, during its investigation, learned of similar comments he made to other nurses such as, “I’m going to the restroom. Want to come with me?” When that nurse refused, he reportedly said, “Are you sure? I don’t think I can handle it on my own.”
He had several inappropriate actions with multiple health care professionals. Now, guess what the Board did? They reprimanded him! That was it! No suspension, no probation, no nothing. And after that proverbial slap on the wrist, if you can believe it, Dr. Moja is appealing the Board’s disciplinary action as well as the criminal conviction. The burden of proof in criminal cases is much higher; beyond a reasonable doubt but in civil matters or administrative matters, it is much lower and only a preponderance of evidence.
When I read about this case, I was stunned and in disbelief.
Should a nurse, in any way, attempt to inappropriately touch a patient or make improper comments, serious action would be levied against that nurse’s license. This reaction to Dr. Moja’s offensive and invasive actions is quite disappointing. If anything can be taken away from this, it is that the victim nurse stood up for herself and reported the inappropriate behavior (again, sexual assault and battery).
However, the response from HR and the Virginia Board was wholly lacking though Dr. Moja at least now has the public record of a criminal conviction accompanying his credentials. The public now can know to avoid that physician.
I am disappointed with the Virginia Board for not taking more stiffer action with Dr. Moja. It sends a message that it is ok to be found guilty by a jury for sexual assault and battery, but you can continue to practice unimpeded. I think the man should be evaluated for being a sexual predator. If this were the nursing Board, much more serious action would be taken. If there is any concern for the public, the nursing Boards are very aggressive in their action.
What do you think of this crime and subsequent travesty? Let me know your thoughts below.
Did You Report?
I’ve written often about if a nurse has a second license in another state and there is an action in one state, the other state may take action as well. But, did you know in certain states you must affirmatively report an action in a second state?
Some think that if their license is on probation that they can go to work in another state where their license is “free and clear.” Be careful! If you do not voluntarily tell of a license matter in another state and the situation is found out, that may be a violation of that state’s Nurse Practice Act.
If you have a license matter, you should review your state’s Nurse Practice Act in all states in which you are licensed to determine whether you have to report the action in the other states. In fact, even if you don’t have an active license, another state still can take action against your license. Always make sure that all Nursing Boards where you have a license are kept up-to-date with your mailing address to ensure that you don’t miss any important communications from either state Board.
The American Association of Nurse Attorneys has published a position paper on the statute of limitations and retained jurisdiction. The Association does not feel that it is proper to be able to take action against an expired license after the fact, when sometimes it can be years later.
You also can check the Annual Survey of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to see how each state is set up and who performs their investigation. It makes for interesting reading.
Another source is nursys.com, a public repository of actions taken on nurses’ licenses. As well as checking on yourself, you can look up records on your coworkers as well to make sure there’s nothing there.
The bottom line is that should you have an action in one state and if you have a license in another, make sure that you do not need to mandatorily report that action. It is better to be safe than sorry and report since it is public record anyway.
Health Care Provider Gabapentin Abuse
I have recently seen a number of health care professionals using Gabapentin, which is used to treat epilepsy, postherpetic neuralgia (shingles), but also widely prescribed off-label to treat fibromyalgia, neuropathy, migraines and other chronic pain conditions. In 2016, 64,000,000 prescriptions were written in the U.S. for Gabapentin, the 10th most prescribed medication. This is a 49% increase in just 5 years.
In researching this issue, it appears that Gabapentin can increase or heighten the effects of opiates as well as heroin, marijuana and cocaine. With the opioid epidemic underway, people are looking for another way to relieve their pains and help them to relax, sleep and feel good.
Most drug tests do not check for Gabapentin unless it is specifically included in the panel. In 2017, Kentucky became the first state to make Gabapentin a Schedule 5 controlled substance. It is something that I assume will occur eventually in other states as well.
If you take Gabapentin, just like any controlled substance, I would suggest strongly that if possible, get off it. I believe this substance will be tested more and more even though at present it is not a controlled substance in many states. It will be soon but, for now, the Boards are on alert to look for Gabapentin abuse.