Motion for rehearing of a default revocation – not the recommended method to keep your nursing license

I recently visited the Texas Board of Nursing Disciplinary and Eligibility Committee meeting and was surprised by the percentage of cases heard by this committee that were motions for rehearing.  A motion for rehearing occurs when the licensee (nurse) has failed to respond to formal charges by the Board by either not appearing or failing to respond to an agreed order and thus has suffered a default revocation of the nurses’ license to practice nursing.  Obviously the implications of a revocation are severe – I have blogged about revocations before here.

I suspect that these nurses didn’t understand the implications of a default.  But, as my colleague Latonia Denise Wright observes,

“as (a) professional you need to have an awareness of what your rights, obligations, duties, and responsibilities are in any investigation, appearance, complaint, or other formal/informal matter related to your nursing practice”

My observations and discussion of the motion for rehearing after the jump:

In general, once you have failed to appear for an informal conference related to the complaint or you fail to respond to a proposed agreed order, you are going to have your license revoked.  There are very strict guidelines related to a motion for rehearing contained in the Texas Administrative Procedures Act (Texas Government Code §2001.146).

The motion for rehearing must be filed within 20 days (+3 for mailing) of the date of the hearing to be considered timely.  That is not much time, especially when a nurse has not responded before to the complaint.  TBON, at its sole discretion, has the option to extend the time allowed for the motion for rehearing, though under the code, it is not clear what the absolute deadline might be though it is clearly less than 90 days and it was obvious based on the number of motions for rehearing heard in the meetings I attended that TBON will be limiting time frame for timely filing to the statutory time periods in the near future.

While many of the motions I heard were ultimately successful, I would characterize the only winning defense I have seen is the “My Dog Ate My Homework” defense.  There is actually a three prong test the committee uses to judge these cases: 1) the licensee did not miss the deadline for timely filing for hearing intentionally or with conscious indifference, but due to accident or mistake; 2) the nurse has a meritorious defense to the factual allegations; and 3) granting the rehearing will not delay or otherwise injure TBON.

A default revocation means you shall not practice as a nurse for at least one year (reinstatement is a topic for future post(s)!).  This means a loss of significant income for most, if not all, nurses.  What can you do to avoid the pain an agony of a default revocation?  Pay attention to your future and your license – if you receive correspondence from the Texas Board Of Nursing, DO NOT IGNORE THE CORRESPONDENCE!  And second, consider hiring an attorney, especially an attorney experienced in appearing before the licensing agencies.  It then becomes your attorney’s joint responsibility to deal with those deadlines and corresponding with TBON   Remember that as a professional nurse, you are held to a higher standard, including the fact that you are solely responsible for your license – if you act like it, you will certainly be better than if you don’t!

Marc

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