The term unprofessional conduct seems relatively simple. If we want a definition, we can look at each word, right? Unfortunately, even relatively simple matters like the definition of a word can become complicated. The New York State Education Department has very detailed definitions for terms like this, which can vary depending on the individual’s professional license.
What does the term mean for nurses?
According to the Rules of the Board of Regents, unprofessional conduct in healthcare can include:
- Neglect. A failure to care for a patient can qualify, but exceptions exist. A nurse that faces this allegation could argue that they made reasonable arrangements under the circumstances.
- Abuse. This includes physical and verbal.
- Poor record keeping. The state requires nurses to update patient records to reflect treatment and care. A failure to do so truthfully can constitute a violation.
- Excessive testing. Ordering medically unnecessary tests can pose an issue and trigger allegations of a False Claims Act violation.
Additional rules that impact nurses specifically include allegations of a failure to collaborate with a doctor or identify oneself as a doctor without clarifying that the title is connected to nursing so the patient does not believe the nurse is acting as a medical doctor.
What should I do if I am under investigation for a possible violation?
An investigation puts your license at risk. Do not take the matter lightly. You can fight back by showing that the allegations are false or that a reasonable explanation qualifies for an exception — such as making other arrangements noted above. An attorney experienced in tailoring defense strategies to these types of cases can review your situation and discuss these and other options.
Attorney John Rivas is responsible for this communication