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Illinois Nursing License Defense AttorneyA nurse practitioner is one type of advanced practice registered nurse. In order to be licensed as a nurse practitioner, you are required to have additional education, training, and certification. Traditionally, nurse practitioners could be found at medical facilities such as urgent care clinics, but today, more and more patients are turning to nurse practitioners for their primary healthcare needs. Here in Illinois, the number of nurse practitioners have tripled over the past ten years and now number over 12,000.

At one time, nurse practitioners were always required to enter into a collaborative practice agreement with a physician, but that changed a few years ago when the state of Illinois passed a law allowing advanced practice registered nurses to practice independently of doctors. However, there are stringent requirements that must be met in order for them to do so.

Obtaining a Nurse Practitioner License

In order to become a nurse practitioner, a registered nurse must obtain their master’s degree in nursing. They are also required to have a minimum of 500 hours of direct patient care in order to be nationally certified.

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IL defense attorneyOpioid abuse and the abuse of other prescription drugs are at an all-time high in the United States. Pill mills are among the major sources of these drugs. As a result, federal and state agencies, as well as licensing boards have started cracking down on the prescribing of pain medications. In fact, facilities that work with the chronically ill are facing intense scrutiny, as are advanced practice registered nurses since they work under prescriptive delegation. This extra attention, though not always warranted, places the licensing status of nurses at risk. Learn more about the investigation process and how to protect your nursing license with help from the following information.

Investigations Can Be More Like Fishing Expeditions

Investigations for matters relating to prescriptive authority or the “excessive” writing of pain prescriptions may be closed if the Illinois Board of Nursing lacks evidence. Alternatively, the investigation could go another way. Something you say could be misinterpreted as evidence in a prescription abuse case, or the investigation could turn into a fishing expedition. The investigator might start looking for any sort of infraction. He or she could even use what seems like an innocent conversation to gather evidence against you for a matter completely unrelated to the initial query. This is why it is so critical that you understand the investigative process, the risk to your nursing license, and how to protect it.

Protecting Your Nursing License

First and foremost, you must understand that the Board of Nursing is not your ally. The Board is not necessarily interested in preserving your practice or offering you leniency. The Illinois Board of Nursing was established to protect the public, but Board representatives can be almost manipulative in their investigations. Moreover, they are unlikely to inform you of your rights—especially your right to consult an attorney before ever speaking with them. In fact, some investigators may even attempt to use their authority or an air of urgency to coerce you into speaking with them before you have had the chance to obtain legal counsel. Do not let them do this to you! Know your rights.

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IL license defense lawyerIt is fairly recognized that nursing school is not an easy path to take. While slightly less rigorous than medical school, those who wish to be Illinois nurses are still required to take intense courses aimed at preparing them for in-field work and the difficult exam, known as the NCLEX-RN, to become a registered nurse. This exam is a national, standardized test to ensure that future nurses are fully capable of taking care of patients and performing other medical duties.

Since many nursing students take their NCLEX exam coming out of college, they will typically receive nursing licensure in the state where they went to school. However, it is unlikely that these medical professionals will never move out of state. For those moving to Illinois, there is a particular process that they must follow to become an Illinois certified nurse.

Out-of-State Licensure

If a nurse moves from one state to another and still intends on working in this field, they will need to receive “licensure by endorsement” in the new state that they are moving to. In other words, out of state nurses must receive license verification and endorsement from the previous state(s) that they worked in. This includes the current state, the original state (if different), and any other state that the nurse has practiced over the past five years. Illinois requires nurses to provide their NCLEX results, either from the state of original licensure or the testing company. These endorsement candidates can be issued a temporary license to begin work while the paperwork is being processed.

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IL license attorneyIn many ways, nurses are integral to a properly-functioning healthcare system. Nurses play an important role in patient care, especially because they are usually the ones who spend a majority of time with the patient. One of the tasks that nurses perform is documenting a patient’s history and medical care, also known as charting. Charting is an essential part of a nurse’s job and mistakes on a chart or an incomplete chart could result in injury or harm to the patient or in some cases, even death. Because of this, your nursing license could be at risk if you make a charting error. If you face disciplinary action related to a charting or documentation error, you should speak with an Illinois nursing license defense lawyer.

Common Documentation Errors

Proper charting and patient documentation are crucial for not only the patient’s health and safety, but also for your sake. Charting errors can lead to a slew of issues such as improper treatments, lack of treatment, permanent damage or even death to a patient. If a malpractice or other legal suit is filed pertaining to your patient and it was discovered that you made an error when you were charting, you could face serious consequences.

Charting and documentation errors can come in many different forms. Even though nurses are not the only ones responsible for a patient’s care, they are typically the ones who have the most contact with the patient and therefore usually have much responsibility for the patient’s wellbeing. One simple charting error could be the end of a nursing career. The most common charting errors include:

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IL defense attorneyThough not as much as a physician, it often takes years of schooling and studying to become a nurse. All of that hard work finally culminates when you apply to receive an Illinois nursing license that enables you to practice in the state of Illinois. If you are a nurse, you are held to certain standards, which if broken, can result in disciplinary action. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) is the licensing body that oversees all nursing, physician, pharmacist, psychologist and chiropractic licenses, among many others. The IDFPR is also the disciplining body that will take action against your license if you are accused of wrongdoing.

Cause for Disciplinary Action

There are a number of reasons why a nurse could face disciplinary action against his or her license. These reasons include behavior such as “unethical or unprofessional conduct,” or being convicted of a crime. Here are a few common reasons why you may find yourself facing disciplinary action against your license:

  • Being convicted of any crime that is a felony or misdemeanor and contains an essential element of dishonesty or is directly related to the nursing profession
  • Behavior that demonstrates the incapacity or incompetence to safely and lawfully practice nursing
  • Violating any rules stated in the Nurse Practice Act
  • Engaging in dishonorable or unethical conduct that is likely to harm the public
  • Unlawful taking, selling, distributing or manufacturing of any drug or narcotic
  • Excessive use or addiction to alcohol or narcotics that prevents the safe practice of nursing
  • Sexual abuse, sexual misconduct or sexual exploitation of a patient
  • Failing to provide information or purposefully providing false information to the IDFPR
  • Failing to report a suspected case of child abuse or neglect

Types of Disciplinary Action

If you have been accused of any of the above violations, the IDFPR has probably gotten into contact with you about disciplinary actions. There are a number of actions that could be taken against your license. These include:

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