Licensed nurses and nurse assistants face disciplinary action by the Nevada State Board of Nursing for:
- crimes of violence, fraud, or theft ("crimes involving moral turpitude"),
- nursing-related offenses, and/or
- unprofessional conduct
Nurses accused of criminal offenses of other misconduct have the right to a hearing in front of the Nursing Board. Depending on the outcome of the hearing, the Board can levy the following punishments:
- a reprimand and fine,
- license suspension, or
- license revocation
Nurses and nurse assistants are entitled to have an attorney present at these disciplinary hearings advocating on their behalf. And nurses suffering from addiction may be able to keep their license if they complete a Board-approved rehabilitation program.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. How does the Nevada Nursing Board work?
- 2. Can I apply for a nursing license with a criminal record?
- 3. What triggers disciplinary action against nurses?
- 4. What happens if there is a complaint against me?
- 5. What happens at a disciplinary hearing?
- 6. Can I keep my nursing license if I do rehab?
- 7. Can I go to jail for nursing without a license?
- 8. Other occupational licenses in Nevada
The Nevada State Board of Nursing is a state association that grants nursing and nurse assistant licenses, investigates complaints, and imposes discipline. The Board consists of the following Nevada Governor appointees:
- 4 nurses,
- 1 nursing assistant,
- 1 representative of a health care provider for indigent people, and
- 1 non-nurse to represent the public
Board members may serve up to two (2) terms of four (4) years each. The Board meets about seven or eight times a year in Las Vegas or Reno. They publish the minutes from their meetings online.1
The Nursing Board may disqualify applicants who have been convicted of a crime, even if they did no jail time. The Board has meetings to determine whether to accept or deny applicants who have been convicted of either:
- a felony that occurred within the previous decade,
- crimes that involve moral turpitude (dishonesty, vileness, or depravity), or
- crimes related to a nurse's duties
The Board gives the applicants notice of the next Board meeting so they can attend and present evidence of their rehabilitation.
Note that people who are granted nursing licenses are subject to criminal background checks at least every five (5) years for as long as they hold their licenses.2
2.1. Will the Nevada Nursing Board see my sealed criminal records?
Theoretically, the Nursing Board should not be able to see criminal records that have been sealed. But, sealed records sometimes still show up when the Board runs the applicant's fingerprints.
The Board will automatically disqualify an application as fraudulent if it discovers that the applicant lied about having no past criminal convictions. The Board therefore advises applicants to be honest about their criminal history, even if it was sealed. But these applicants should consult with an attorney first...
An attorney may be able to investigate as to whether a fingerprint search will cause the applicant's sealed criminal record to surface. This information, in turn, could help inform how best to complete the nursing application.3
3. What crimes or misconduct can trigger disciplinary action against me by the Nevada Nursing Board?
The Nursing Board may impose disciplinary actions -- including suspending or revoking a nursing license -- when it determines that the nurse or nursing assistant committed certain crimes and misconduct, including:
- fraud or deceit when obtaining the nursing license
- a crime involving moral turpitude (which includes crimes of violence, fraud, or theft)
- a crime related to a nurse's duties (such as forging a prescription)
- unfitness or incompetence by reason of gross negligence or recklessness in carrying out usual nursing functions
- risky drug or alcohol use
- mental incompetence
- falsification of information concerning a controlled substance
- unlawful procurement of controlled substances
- failure to obtain required training
- conduct likely to deceive, defraud, or endanger a patient or the general public
- willful defiance of a regulation, subpoena, or order of the Nursing Board
The Board can also levy discipline and license suspensions or revocations for "unprofessional conduct." Unprofessional conduct is a broad concept which comprises everything from abusing a patient to false impersonation.4
The Nursing Board may conduct an investigation upon receiving a written complaint to the Nursing Board. The complaint must contain the following information:
- the name of the nurse or nurse assistant to be investigated
- the crime or misconduct that the nurse or nurse assistant allegedly committed
- a signature of the person making the complaint
The length and extent of the Board's investigation depend on the case. If the evidence does not support the allegations, the complaint may be closed. Or if the matter is minor, the Board may try to resolve the issue through informal meetings and agreements.
But if the evidence supports the allegations against the licensee, the Board will issue an "administrative complaint." The Board then notifies the licensee by either:
- serving the complaint personally on the licensee, or
- mailing it to the licensee's last known address
The administrative complaint enumerates the allegations of misconduct, but it does not contain all the evidence that the Board relied on. If the licensee makes a written request to the Board for more information, the Nursing Board will send the licensee copies of any communications, reports, and affidavits relating to the allegations.
Once the complaint is served, the Nursing Board may suspend or revoke or put other limitations on the nurse's license pending the outcome of the administrative hearing. This is more likely to occur in cases of fraud or where the Board believes patient safety is at risk.
Scroll down to the next section for information on Nevada Nursing Board hearings.5
The Nursing Board gives the nurse or nursing assistant the opportunity for a formal hearing "as soon as practicable after the filing of the administrative complaint." (If the complaint involved an allegation of industrial insurance fraud, the hearing must be held within 30 days of the Board receiving the Nevada Attorney General's report.)
The licensee has the right to have an attorney represent him/her during the Nursing Board hearing, which is very similar to a trial: In the weeks leading up to the hearing, the Board and licensee may take depositions and subpoena witnesses. And during the hearing, evidence may be presented, and witnesses can be cross-examined. Note that in some cases, the licensee can appear telephonically if he/she cannot be present in person.
The Board makes a final decision within 60 days of the hearing. If the Board determines that the nurse or nursing assistant did violate the Nurse Practice Act in some way, the Board can impose any of the following punishments:
- license suspension, or
- license revocation
The Nursing Board makes public the results of disciplinary actions. The disciplinary penalty depends on such factors as the:
- severity and recency of the offense,
- degree of deviation from standard practice,
- evidence of rehabilitation,
- current ability to practice safely,
- mitigating factors, and
- past disciplinary history
Nurses and nursing assistants who were disciplined can file a motion for a rehearing or request a reconsideration by the Nursing Board. The Board then may then hold another hearing on the matter.6
Nurses and nursing assistants struggling with addiction may be able to save their license by completing a rehab program called the Alternative Program for Chemically Dependent Nurses.
In order to participate in the program, license-holders must do the following:
- Self-report themselves to the Nursing Board,
- Temporarily surrender their nursing license or certificate,
- Complete 180 hours of treatment, attend 90 AA or NA meetings in 90 days, and achieve stable recovery,
- Work under an unmarked conditional license while the Board monitors their practice, which includes random drug testing
Nurses and nurse assistants are not eligible for the Alternative Program for Chemically Dependent Nurses if they either:
- had a previous disciplinary action related to impairment from chemical dependency,
- have a long history of diverting drugs, or
- have a complaint pending against them regarding drug diversion or impaired practice
This rehab program is run by the Nursing Board's Disability Advisory Committee.7
Potentially. If no substantial bodily harm results, nursing without a license is a category D felony in Nevada, carrying:
If substantial bodily harm does result, nursing without a license is a category C felony in Nevada, carrying:
- 1 - 5 years in Nevada State Prison, and
- maybe up to $10,000, and
- victim restitution8
However, it may be possible to convince the prosecutor to dismiss the charges or to plea bargain it down to a lesser offense. Note that a conviction for nursing without a license can prevent the defendant from obtaining a nursing license in the future.
The Nevada Board of Medical Examiners can issue fines, reprimands, and licenses suspensions or revocations when doctors commit certain crimes and misconduct. Learn more about Nevada medical license revocations and suspensions.
8.2. Contractors (Builders)
Licensed contractors who do substandard work or engage in unprofessional conduct or serious criminal activity face disciplinary actions, including having their license suspended or revoked. Learn more in our article on disciplinary proceedings and license revocations for Nevada contractors.
8.3 Real Estate brokers and salespeople
Selling and brokering real estate outside the laws and regulations of the Nevada Real Estate Commission can jeopardize the seller's or broker's license. Learn more in our article on disciplinary proceedings and license revocations for Nevada real estate brokers and salespeople.
Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney...
Are you at risk of losing your nursing license? Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) to discuss your matter for free. We will do everything to save your license and your livelihood.
Facing discipline in California? See our article on California disciplinary actions for nurses.
- NRS 632.030; NRS 632.120.
- NRS 632.347; Additional Information Regarding Eligibility Screening Question #2, Nevada State Board of Nursing.
- NRS 632.347.
- NAC 632.901.
- NAC 632.910; NRS 632.400; NAC 632.926; NRS 632.349.
- NRS 632.307; Alternative Program for Chemically Dependent Nurses, Nevada State Board of Nursing.
- NRS 632.315.