Vital information if YOU are named in a complaint
- We realize that the disciplinary process can be an emotionally painful process.
- It is normal to feel anxious as you go through this. We encourage you to obtain the assistance of a mental health professional if you feel the process is overwhelming or if you are feeling extremely anxious or stressed.
- The mission of the Board is to assure public safety, but we also want to ensure that YOU are safe. If you are feeling severely depressed, anxious or suicidal, call 911 or the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-784-2433.
- If you desire mental health assistance for non-emergent issues, contact the Wyoming Department of Health, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division at 800-535-4006.
- Board staff members are not able to advise you, speculate about the outcome, or interpret legal documents for you.
- YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO OBTAIN LEGAL COUNSEL. It will not prejudice (unfairly influence) the Board against you, nor will it be seen as an admission of guilt if you decide to retain an attorney. You are strongly encouraged to consult with legal counsel especially if there is a determination that the complaint may result in an actual disciplinary hearing before the Board.
- Do not ignore the complaint; it will not just “go away.”
Investigative and Hearing Process
- Once a complaint is made, an investigation is initiated and you will be notified by letter with a copy of the complaint sent to the last address indicated in the Board’s records.
- When preparing a personal statement or response, please respond truthfully to the complaint, as well as to an investigative inquiry that may follow. Failure to respond or failure to provide truthful information will slow the investigation and could be further grounds of a violation.
- Please be aware the investigation may take time. The length of the investigation depends upon the full cooperation of everyone involved.
- When the investigation is complete, the complaint and supporting documents will be sent for review by a Disciplinary Committee (DC). The DC can consist of:
- The Executive Director or other designee delegated to engage in specified decision-making and recommendations, including utilization of a discipline matrix process (see below); or
- One or more designated Board members assigned to investigate the complaint. See, Administrative Rules and Regulations (Board’s Rules), Chapter 8, Section 5: Disciplinary Committee and Investigations of the Administrative Complaint.
- Once the DC makes a decision regarding the case, which may involve consultation with the assigned Assistant Attorney General (AAG) from the Attorney General’s Office. The DC may make recommendations to resolve a complaint as follows: (1) dismissal, or written notice of warning; or (2) settlement agreement for reprimand, imposition of restrictions, conditions, suspension, or a combination thereof; or (3) revocation or voluntary surrender. Formal disciplinary actions include reprimand, conditions, non-renewal, suspension, voluntary surrender or revocation of licensure or certificate. These formal disciplinary actions are required by federal law to be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). A revocation or voluntary surrender also may result in further action by the Office of Inspector General (OIG). (See further explanation below.) A notice of warning is not reported to NPDB.
- The DC may ask for an informal conference with you at any stage of the investigation. An informal conference is an opportunity to meet and discuss allegations or seek to obtain additional information. An informal conference may occur by telephone or in person depending on logistics. Once the DC makes a decision regarding the case, with which you disagree or wish to have further opportunity to discuss, you may request an informal conference, which may prompt further consideration of the decision.
- If the DC’s decision involves a dismissal or a proposed notice of warning, you will receive a letter informing you of the decision.
- If the DC’s decision involves a proposed formal and reportable disciplinary action, you will receive a letter informing you of the decision and proposing a settlement of the case. YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO A HEARING IF YOU DO NOT AGREE WITH THE DC’s DECISION. You also have all the rights of due process, including a hearing before the full Board.
- If you agree to the proposed disciplinary action and execute a settlement agreement, it is placed on the agenda of the Board’s next meeting to approve the settlement agreement. Please remember that if the Board approves a settlement agreement/order for reprimand, imposition of restrictions, conditions, or suspension, the disciplinary sanction will be reported to NPDB. The Board may also choose NOT to approve the proposed settlement agreement, which will result in a hearing before the Board.
- If your case goes to a hearing before the Board, it is trial type of hearing called a “contested case” by the Wyoming Administrative Procedures Act, which includes presenting witnesses and documents as evidence for the Board to consider. The DC has the burden of proof to present evidence that you violated one or more provisions of the Nurse Practice Act or the Board’s Rules. The DC will also recommend a disciplinary action. The AAG represents the DC in the hearing.
- After a hearing, the Board issues a final decision. The Board may resolve a complaint as follows: dismissal, written notice of warning, reprimand, imposition of restrictions, conditions, suspension, or a combination thereof, or revocation. A notice of final disposition of the case is sent to the licensee/certificate holder. Reporting of the decision will be made to NPDB if it results in formal discipline such as reprimand, imposition of restrictions, conditions, suspension, or revocation.
- You may appeal the Board’s final decision to the District Court.
Information regarding the Board’s Duty of Reporting to NPDB
The National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) is a federal data bank that has been created to serve as a repository of information about health care providers in the United States. Federal law requires that adverse actions taken against a health care professional's license or certificate be reported to this data bank. Information about nursing discipline actions is reported to the NPDB by the board taking action. All Information included in NPDB is NOT available to the general public. Access to information in the NPDB is limited to those entities specified by law as listed below:
· Federal and State Government Agencies (such as OIG and other licensing boards)
· Health Care Providers, Suppliers or Practitioners through a self query (such as a hospital or clinic that makes inquiry for employment purposes)
· Health Plans
Information regarding actions by OIG (Exclusion List)
The Office of Inspector General's (OIG) mission is to protect the integrity of Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) programs as well as the health and welfare of program beneficiaries. OIG has the authority to exclude individuals and entities from federally funded health care programs pursuant to sections 1128 and 1156 of the Social Security Act, and maintains a list of all currently excluded individuals and entities called the List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE). Anyone who hires an individual or entity on the LEIE may be subject to civil monetary penalties (CMP).
OIG has discretion to exclude individuals such as nurses or nursing assistants on a number of grounds, including misdemeanor convictions related to health care fraud (other than Medicare or a State health program); misdemeanor convictions relating to the unlawful manufacture, distribution, prescription, or dispensing of controlled substances; AND MOST IMPORTANTLY FOR PURPOSES OF DISCIPLINARY ACTION BY THE BOARD, suspension, revocation, or surrender of a license to provide health care for reasons bearing on professional competence or professional performance.
THIS MEANS THAT IF YOUR LICENSE OR CERTIFICATE IS SUSPENDED, REVOKED OR VOLUNTARILY SURRENDERED, YOUR ABILITY TO BE EMPLOYED BY A HEALTH CARE PROVIDER OR FACILITY THAT ALSO RECEIVES FEDERAL FUNDING (SUCH AS MEDICARE, etc.), MAY BE PRECLUDED DESPITE THE STATUS OF YOUR LICENSURE. In other words, once you are on the exclusion list and have not been taken off even after a reinstatement, you will not be able to be hired as a nurse or nursing assistant by medical facilities receiving federal funds. THIS SHOULD BE AN IMPORTANT FACTOR IN YOUR DECISION WHETHER TO AGREE TO THE DC’s DECISION OR TO GO TO A HEARING BEFORE THE BOARD.
The OIG maintains the Online Searchable Database, which enables users to enter the name of an individual or entity and determine whether they are currently excluded. If a name match is made, the database can verify the match using a Social Security Number or Employer Identification Number.
Investigative and Hearing Process
OIG Exclusion List
WSBN Disciplinary Sanctions
Discipline Assignment Matrix