Our law firm has saved the licenses of numerous nurses, even in the face of multiple criminal convictions or allegations of gross negligence. However, we are often asked, “how long will my disciplinary documents will be on the internet?” Clients also wonder how much of their case will be able to be seen, such as whether or not the terms of a settlement or the result of a hearing will be searchable under their license record.
Disciplinary decisions issued by the Office of Administrative Hearings are considered public record, and are displayed by the Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) on their website once they are final. However, the length of time a decision stays on the internet depends on when the action became final and on the seriousness of the disciplinary charge against an RN.
For example, for final decisions upholding a citation or a fine, or for decisions resulting in a public reprimand against a licensee, the BRN displays those documents for three (3) years from the date of completion of the Board’s action. For decisions resulting in a probationary license, the documents stay on the internet for ten (10) years from the date of completion of the Board’s action. Certain decisions, such as those resulting in license surrender or revocation, or citations against an unlicensed individual, stay on the internet indefinitely.
However, figuring out the “date of completion of the Board’s action” can be difficult. For disciplinary decisions issued on or after January 1, 2012, the “date of completion” is considered to be the effective date of the decision; in other words, the date on which the Board’s action became final. For disciplinary decisions issued anytime before January 1, 2012, the three- or ten-year period of internet publication doesn’t begin until January 1, 2012. This can lead to an extended period of retention of discipline documents for nurses disciplined before 2012. For example, an RN who received a probationary decision in 2005 would have his or her decision remain on the internet for ten years, beginning on January 1, 2012.
The Board’s recently enacted policy outlined above to limit the retention of records on the internet for probation and reprimand outcomes give those nurses additional future relief from the collateral effects of license discipline. Recognizing the collateral effects of license discipline is another way that our expertise in professional license law delivers superior results for our clients.