Why Legal Representation is Important when Dealing with a Licensing Board.

In a matter that can be viewed as synonymous with pharmacy/pharmacist licensing and the Board of Pharmacy, a recent case has held that a registered nurse’s license was properly revoked after she refused to submit to a mental-fitness examination that was ordered by the Board of Registered Nursing. Lee v. Bd. of Registered Nursing (2012) 209 Cal. App. 4th 793.

This case demonstrates the importance of a licensee having legal representation in disciplinary proceedings. The nurse’s employer began to have doubts about her mental condition to continue working in the surgical unit. During one year, the nurse was examined by five mental health professionals. Two doctors diagnosed her as suffering from delusions that would impair her ability to function as a nurse. Three doctors found no such impairment.

Based on the differing opinions, the Board ordered the nurse to submit to an examination by a psychologist or psychiatrist selected by the Board. She refused and the Board filed an Accusation, to revoke her license. The Nurse represented herself and the administrative hearing resulted in revocation. The Writ of Administrative Mandamus to the Superior Court seeking to overturn the revocation was denied.

Here, it was not whether the nurse was mentally unfit to practice nursing. That question was never answered. Because the nurse did not comply with the Board’s request to submit to an examination by a psychologist or psychiatrist selected by the Board, she violated the business and professions code requiring licensed health care professionals to comply with licensing Board’s orders or face discipline. It was noted in the case that this code applies to all licensed health care professionals, not just nurses.

This case demonstrates the importance of legal counsel specializing in representation of licensed professionals. Perhaps revocation could have been avoided, especially where there were differing opinions as to the nurse’s competency while working in the surgical unit.

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