North Carolina is a mandatory reporting state. Any person who has reasonable cause to suspect misconduct or incapacity of a nurse or who has reasonable cause to suspect that a nurse has violated the Nursing Practice Act (NPA) shall report the relevant facts to the Board.
A determination is made as to whether or not the reported allegation(s) violate existing laws or regulations that govern a nurse's practice.
The Investigator's role is to collect and report facts in a fair and impartial manner. If the alleged violation poses a substantial threat to the public, the license is flagged on our website to alert prospective employers that the Board is conducting an investigation.
The BON provides "due process" to a nurse by notifying him/her of the investigation, of the allegation(s), and of his/her rights in the investigative process. A nurse is afforded the opportunity to respond to the allegations made against him/her.
A nurse has the right to decline participation and to have no contact with the Investigator, which will result in a full investigation. However, if a nurse declines participation, decisions will be based on the evidence collected. Failure to respond will not deter the Board from continuing the investigation. The process used to investigate and act on a complaint may vary. It may take a number of weeks to months depending upon the complexity and seriousness of the alleged conduct.
Can a nurse under investigation work while the investigation is being conducted?
The ability to work as a nurse is unrestricted during the investigation.
Should an Attorney be retained?
One of the nurse's rights in this process is the right to retain an Attorney during any phase of the investigation. If the nurse elects to retain an Attorney, the nurse will be responsible for ensuring that their Attorney provides the Investigator with a Letter of Representation.
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No Action - if there is insufficient proof to substantiate a violation of the NPA, the case will be dismissed
Letter of Concern/non-disciplinary warning - if cause for concern is suggested but there is not clear and convincing evidence
Non-published Consent Agreement (NPC) - a nurse accepts responsibility for his/her action(s), the resolution imposes an educational remedy (primarily on-line computer based courses)
Published Consent Order (PCO) - a nurse acknowledges a violation of the NPA, waives their right to a full investigation, and would like an expedited settlement of a non-contested practice complaint
Letter of Charges - issued after a full investigation has been completed and there is clear and convincing evidence that a violation of the NPA has occurred
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If a nurse is charged with violating the NPA and disputes the facts, he/she may request to meet with the Board for either a Settlement Committee Meeting or request that the matter be referred for an Administrative Hearing.
Settlement Committee consists of a meeting with three (3) members of the Board of Nursing, who review the case.
Administrative Hearing consists of a majority (eight or more) of Board members hearing the case.
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Licensee Rights During the Investigative Process:
- To be treated with respect.
- To expect your case to be handled in a timely, fair and professional manner.
- To be kept informed of the status of the investigation. Based on the address of record (provided by you), on file with the North Carolina Board of Nursing, an attempt will be made to notify you of the initiation of an investigation via U S Mail.
- To retain an Attorney to represent you at any point in the investigatory process. Your Attorney may accompany you to the Board office for any meeting(s) scheduled.
- To participate in the investigative process through interview and/or submission of a written statement. If you choose not to participate, the Investigator assigned to your case will make a recommendation for disposition based on the information that has been collected from other sources. Failure to participate in the investigative process does not mean the Board cannot impose discipline.
- To review any supporting documents; however copies of these documents will not be supplied to you unless requested for an Administrative Hearing.
- To request to appear before a Settlement Committee; and/or request an Administrative Hearing upon receipt of a Letter of Charges in which you dispute the facts.
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