Professional Regulation and Criminal Liability

Published 19 Jan 2017

The nursing profession entails offering care to needy people in the society. It deals with offering health teaching, counseling and offering supportive and restorative care. Care offered could be physical or psychological. To be a registered nurse in the New York, one must be licensed. The process of registration involves filing an application with the department. One must have acquired the appropriate educational qualifications, which include a diploma or degree in professional nursing according to the commissioner&rsquos regulations.

The recommended age is above 18 and one must be of good moral character as per the department standards. A fee of $115 is paid to the department and an examination is conducted for the initial license. $40 is for re-examination, $70 for initial license of those who are not examined in New York State. One must in addition to these qualifications have acquired or completed a course work training in the identification and reporting of child abuse.

Licensure in nursing in New York also follows the same process as the registration. One needs to apply with the department, meet educational requirements, pass relevant examinations and be of good moral character. A fee is also paid attain the license. The credentialing process is also important in the nursing filed. The nursing profession is involved in the coordination and central of credentialing process of the professional nurses. A masters&rsquo degree is required to venture into advanced practice.

Such professionals are supposed to perform their duties according to the ethical and legal standards set. Credentialing process for basic and advanced nursing practice is under the state board for nursing and the state education department. Credentialing for advanced practice professional is cohesive and includes formal education, clinical practice, continuing education and certification for validating competence.

Credentialing is the process of obtaining, verifying and assessing qualification of nurses to provide patient care, treatment and services in a health care organization. In New York, the practice of a nursing practitioner requires supervision or referral from a licensed physician. Nurses are expected to renew their licenses every 3 years. According to the statutes, nurse practitioner can prescribe drug, immunizing agents and devices in accordance with the practice agreement and protocols. State board of nursing administers the licensure process. Certification of nurses in New York involves application after one has attained the relevant qualification skills as stated by as stated by the commissioner&rsquos regulations or the New York&rsquos education law. One is also required to pay a fee of $80 for the certification. The nursing regulations are found in the article 139 of the education law.

The Rules of the Board of Regents part 29 gives details of unprofessional conduct. Unprofessional conduct in this field includes administering immunization, agents when the agents in question can be ineffective or unsafe. This entails administering expired agents when there is clear evidence that the expiry date has been reached. Agents that have not been stored according to the required standards should also not be used. It is unprofessional for nurses to abandon or neglect a patient in dire need of care without prior arrangement for the continuation of such care.

Reasonable notice must be offered if one intends to abandon a health care so as not to jeopardize the quality of care to be offered. They should not willfully harass, abuse or intimidate patients physically or verbally. Proper record maintenance must be practiced and they should be accurate. Precision in using the title doctor should be used. One must indicate the field or profession a doctor has specialized in. Excessive tests or treatment should not be offered. Treatment facilities that are not warranted by a patient&rsquos condition should also not be used. Secret treatment, which is not pulged to the state board of professions, should not be used.

Identity badge must be used and they should be legible and conspicuously displayed. They should indicate ones name and title of one&rsquos qualification. Nurses are also not expected to enter into agreements with pharmacist in favor of certain prescriptions. Nurses must indicate their names and date of prescriptions and those of the patients, the strength and quantity of the drugs or device offered as well as directions for use. Scientifically accepted infection prevention techniques must be used in cleaning and sterilization or disinfecting of devices, materials and work surfaces. Appropriate gloves should be worn to protect contamination. Gloves used should be discarded, new ones used in case they are torn and hands should be washed.

Specimen of blood and body fluids should be placed in well-constructed containers. Common areas of punishable professional misconduct violations include the use of fraud or deceit in obtaining or attempting to obtain a nursing license, physical or psychological impairments leading to incompetence or negligence, Habitual use of or addiction to drugs or alcohol. Improper handling or alteration of patient records, performing tasks beyond the states nurse practice act, violating the patient&rsquos confidentiality, or their human rights and dignity. Offering care based on prejudice is also a case of professional misconduct in nursing.

Other forms of professional misconduct involve aiding an unlicensed person to perform activities that require one to be licensed, being convicted of a crime, sexually or physically abusive.

Nurses who practice without licenses are subject to criminal penalties. Such practice is considered as a felony in New York and is punishable by imprisonment or a fine. The New York State licensure board is responsible for enforcing prohibitions against unlicensed practice. There is no justification for such practice. Health centers or hospitals develop standards for credentialing nurses in their facilities. Credentialing decisions incorporate the practitioner&rsquos credentials, experience, and performance in accordance with medical staff by laws. National organizations like joint commission for the accreditation of health care organizations (JCAHO) and National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) have set standards that such facilities should meet. Failure to meet the set standards such hospitals or health care centers lose their accreditation status.

Cases of criminal liability in New York include the professional misconduct where nurses neglect patients in nursing homes. Hidden cameras were used to validate allegations of abuse and neglect. The New York Attorney Generals Office Fraud Control Unit investigators were able to identify employees who neglected a 70-year-old bedridden patient with dementia. They failed to maintain the patients cleanliness by constantly changing his bedpans and bedsores. In addition to that, they falsified his medical care records to indicate proper care.

In the event of incompetence, negligence or other professional misconduct offered by a nurse, the patient should fill the complaint form and sent it to the New York State Education Department Office of Professionals. In the form the patient offers his or her details his or her name, address and telephone numbers. Information about the nurse that one is complaining about, the hospital and its address should also be indicated. The complaints should also be described in terms of what happened, when and where. The patient must be very specific. Other medical personnel&rsquos, administrators, specialists or even employees of the facility can also report a nurse&rsquos professional misconduct. Any one who reports the misconduct out of good will has immunity from liability.

One must then certify that allegations made are true and complete. The patient or the person complaining can contact a knowledgeable person about professional misconduct before filling the complaint form. The staff members of the regional office where complain were made follow up the forwarded complaints. Cases of illegal or unlicensed practice are solved administratively or referred to the States Attorney General for criminal prosecution. Patients can follow up the progress of their complaints even when investigation is proceeding.

This way, they can be informed if the complaint has been referred for further action. Although time needed for prosecution of cases may vary most investigations are completed within 9 months. The patient is informed of the status of their complaint and the final outcome. After accusations or allegations of professional misconduct are put forward on a nurse the state board of nursing conducts an investigation and an administrative review. The board&rsquos actions are mostly &lsquocomplaint driven&rsquo.

The board uses discretionary powers and can issue decisions or ruling court proceedings and possible legal penalties result from the boards administrative review findings. The accused can appeal the board&rsquos decision in a court of law. Displinary actions taken if one is found guilty of professional misconduct include imposing a probation period, a fine or restricting the nurse&rsquos scope of practice. Other displinary actions include formal reprimand of the nurse, being place on probation, suspension or the board can refuse to renew the nurse&rsquos license or revoke the license in totality. Minor forms of misconduct may be solved through administrative warnings or advisory letters by the office of the professionals. (Follin S, 2004)

The administrative review process begins when a person, health care facility or professional organization files a signed complaint against a nurse to the board. The board may also initiate the action. The board reviews the grievance to decide if the actions in question actually violate the states nurses practice act. A meeting with the accused nurse is requested and the allegations discussed. The nurse can also be asked to write statements of specific incidences that led to the complaint. The nurse can consult experienced nurse attorney before the meeting. Formal hearing is arranged if the board decides that the actions violated the states nurses act. Witnesses are called upon to give evidence. An impartial attorney may act as the hearing officer in the formal hearing alongside the judge. The board could also hear the case. (Follin S, 2004)

If the board finds the nurse guilty, it takes appropriate displinary actions. In challenging the boards decision the court can re-examine the boards decision to establish if the board conducted the hearing properly or conduct a trial. An appeal can be sought with a higher court if one is not contended with the court&rsquos ruling.


  • Office of professionals. 2006. Laws, Rules & Regulations Rules of the Board of Regents Part 29, Unprofessional Conduct. Retrieved on 4th February 2008
  • Online Lawyer Source. 2007. Nursing Home Neglect Being Caught by Hidden Video Cameras August 27th, 2007. Retrieved on 4th February 2008
  • Stacey Follin 2004. Nursing and Practice Nurse’s Legal Handbook. Lippincott Williams.
Did it help you?