I will often get a call from nurses who either did something wrong, think they did something wrong, or are afraid that someone at work is going to report them for something they say they did wrong. Some nurses get reported by others with malignant motives who bear false witness (i.e., employers, other nurses, patients, ex-boyfriends, former spouses, lab technicians, etc.); I could give a laundry list of things I've seen, but I think I'll save that for another article.
I like getting these kinds of calls, the earlier the better! First of all, I don't charge any money when you call for an initial consultation, so don't worry about pulling out your credit card or checkbook yet. The reason I like these calls is because the entire range of options is available to the you at that moment, and the earlier you act, the better representation and advice you can receive from me. An early call can also greatly reduce your stress levels. Let me give you some reasons why you should seek legal advice early:
1. It's free! Not only is the initial consultation free, but also I'll also tell you what it will cost to retain me when you need me. It gives you time to think about it. There's no pressure to hire me. Do it when you think you need me; usually, it's after you receive that scary letter from the Board, but in some cases, sooner.
2. Peace of Mind. Most nurses, if they know trouble is coming, want to know if they are going to lose their job and/or their license. I've handled enough cases to tell you what the likely outcome will be. I can't make any promises because I'm not the Board, but I'll try to reduce the stress and fear you're feeling and hopefully replace it with realistic expectations.
3. Establish a Plan. There are many questions that I am asked at this stage besides, "will I lose my license or my job:" Should I self-report? How do I rebut false allegations? How can I prove to the Board that the drugs or alcohol in my system is not an indication that I'm a drug addict or alcoholic? How do I preserve the evidence? Should I get tested? What's the worst thing that can happen to me? Should I give my employer a statement? Should I meet with my employer? Will this be publicly reported? Do I have to go in front of the Board? What, if any restrictions will be placed on my license? Should I change professions? I can keep rattling off typical questions, but I think these illustrate the point: lots of questions and uncertainty are swirling around when you first think you are going to be reported for something. I'll be able to make some suggestions and hopefully minimize some of your fears. it's easier to face the process once you know the mechanics of how the Board works and you have a plan in place.
4. Hiring an Attorney. When to hire an attorney is an important decision. I tell my clients the sooner the better, but only after they are very sure they are going to get a letter from the Board or have to self-report when their license renews. I charge a flat fee in most cases, so you will get more mileage out of me if you retain me early. I also don't watch the clock and bill you everytime you call or message me; you can contact me or my staff as much as you need, there won't be another bill for fees because it is covered by the flat fee.
If your case is iffy and you're not sure whether there will be a letter coming from the Board, you can afford to wait. I spend up to 40 minutes on the first free consultation; it's a generous amount of free time and I don't think you will find another attorney who does that. You will receive a lot of good information on that first call.
Some nurses who haven't received a letter yet decide to hire me right away if they know one is coming so that I can spend more time working out a plan before the letter arrives. For example, if someone wants to show that they are not a addicted to opioids, even though they tested positive, we need to start working up that case right away. This will also allay the fears of the Board if they can determine early on in your case that you are not a risk to patients. It is a righteous concern for them to worry about patient safety, and we need to get to the bottom of the issue. For your part, you need to be honest, and I will do what I can to help you navigate through your situation. There are some great options available to nurses in that situation. Let's explore them together.
5. Confidentiality. When you call me, even though you have not retained me, our calls are completely confidential, and are protected by attorney-client rules of ethics that we honor.
If you're facing a possible problem with the Board, don't hesitate to call! A free, confidential, no-pressure consultatin with me awaits you; I think you'll feel much better after you unload on someone who has handled a large number of these cases before the Nevada State Board of Nursing, and can give you an honest appraisal of your case.