Oregon State Board of Nursing complaints: A common question

What should I do when my employer files a complaint with the Oregon State Board of Nursing?

As you will see from this discussion, it pays to obtain competent licensure counsel and take early action. In four cases this year, I was hired soon after the nurse (my client) was informed that his or her hospital intended to file a complaint with the Oregon State Board of Nursing (OSBN).

In the first two cases, the hospital made its decision and terminated the nurse all in the span of a few days. The process was essentially a well-orchestrated and documented exit interview, leaving little for us to do, other than wait for the expected notice from the Oregon State Board of Nursing that the compliant had been received, and start our defense then.

In the third and fourth cases, however, the hospital provided the nurse with 14 days advance notice of the hospital’s plan to file a complaint with the Oregon State Board of Nursing. In these two cases, the hospital was required by a labor contract to allow the nurse 14 days to provide an “optional response,” which allowed us to start our work immediately, with the hospital.

What happened in the four cases?

The first two cases were fully resolved in the nurse’s favor. At the conclusion of both interviews, the investigators for the Board of Nursing evidently agreed with the nurse, not the hospital, and the Board of Nursing took no action.

In the third case, the hospital withdrew its threat of termination and of filing a complaint with the Oregon State Board of Nursing. The hospital also made internal changes as a result of the nurse’s response (our response) to the hospital’s threat of termination and filing a complaint with the Board of Nursing. This was an excellent result for the nurse and the Board of Nursing was never involved, as a complaint was never filed.

At this point it time, the fourth case is too new to my office to predict or know the outcome, but as you can see, these cases are defensible. In the first three cases, the hospital was mistaken, and the nurse had it right.

What you need to know

All four cases involved a complicated mix of practice issues, legal issues, management issues, and sometimes “personalities.” In all four cases, the hospital was acting through its Human Resources Department (HR), which, if you do not know, is essentially an in-house legal department comprised of management and lawyers. When HR is involved, it may mean that a small team of individuals has already organized and is working against you. If this scenario sounds familiar, you are advised to hire competent licensure counsel immediately. The nurse is often right and taking early action works!