Importance of Disciplinary Action in Nursing

Topic: Nursing
Words: 1789 Pages: 6


Nursing regulation agencies like the state Board of Nursing require nurses and nurse practitioners to uphold the standards of clinical practice. Healthcare workers ought to adhere to the regulations and policies put in place to ensure the delivery of efficient, safe, and top-notch patient care. However, bodies that regulate nursing practice can take particular action to correct nurses for acts considered inappropriate and fail to meet the required standards of conduct. This paper outlines the reasons why nurses should comply with the required clinical discipline and disciplinary procedures, the outcomes of disciplinary action, the feelings of a nurse student after encountering the provided data, lessons learned, and finally, how nurses can prevent clinical indiscipline from happening in the future.

The Reasons Nurses Should Comply with The Disciplinary Process

Health professionals need to follow the necessary standards in clinical practice to facilitate the delivery of high-quality healthcare services, promote patient safety, enhance patient satisfaction, and improve patients’ confidence in the services nurses provide across various states. Nurses’ compliance with the set disciplinary procedures is critical, it hastens the investigation process. When a nurse is accused of misconduct by the authorities that regulate the nursing practice, the nurse can cooperate by submitting a written response to the accusations accompanied by evidence that can either confirm or dismiss the allegations (Kaplan, 2020). The evidence tabled by the nurse, when proven to be true, can speed up the investigation process by leading to the initiation of a formal documented complaint against the nurse.

Healthcare policies ensure that nurses collaborate with the state Board of Nursing to determine the grounds for discipline and the appropriate plan of action in finding the most suitable solution for the alleged complaints. Healthcare workers’ collaboration in gathering information about misconduct allegations enables the responsible agencies to arrive at the best disciplinary action for the committed offense. Nurses’ cooperation is necessary to identify the most effective solution to the alleged misconduct (Massachusetts Board of Nursing, n.d.). Adhering to the disciplinary process enlightens nursing staff to learn what standards of behavior are required of them. It allows practitioners to comprehend what characterizes acts of gross misconduct, what the disciplinary system entails, the penalties they can face, and how to appeal.

Discipline in clinical practice is a crucial component of running a successful healthcare industry. Healthcare providers need to consider this as an opportunity to collaborate toward a common goal. Disciplinary actions give the regulating bodies the chance to help the nurses improve their behavior to a level that meets the required standards (Kaplan, 2020). As a result, nurses become well-equipped to offer high-quality services, leading to improved patient outcomes. The disciplinary procedures facilitate the maintenance of the required codes of conduct in clinical practice.

The Outcomes

Nurses can face various disciplinary actions following gross misconduct in clinical practice. However, the extent of disciplinary actions depends on the type of misconduct committed by a particular nurse. Some of the consequences nurses face daily for misconduct or omission includes losing the practice license, warning, suspension, or demotion (Kunyk & Deschenes, 2019). For instance, the nursing regulatory agencies may issue a nurse with a written warning for minor clinical misconduct, especially when they are aware of the codes of conduct or the regulations violated. The warning letter often serves as the foundation for future behavior expectations and may indicate the signs of demotion in case the nurse repeats a similar offense or related misconduct in the future.

In some cases, nurses may face the consequences known as a reprimand, which does not involve regulations on the practice license. Usually, a reprimand is a disciplinary action handed to those who have committed minor misconduct, and it does not affect a nurse’s capacity to practice (Oyeleye, 2019). However, the Board of Nursing may include other penalties along with this kind of penalty. For example, a nurse may falsely document that they did a particular task like changing a patient’s dressing after surgery when they did not. The disciplinary action for such an offense may lead to a reprimand of $400 and can involve other penalties like undergoing a one-week training on accurate patient documentation.

The punishment for other offenses can be probation for the nurse found guilty for a given duration. In this case, the nurse Board can decide whether to allow the nurse to practice or not during the probation duration. In instances where the nurse has permission to continue working during the probation period, their license is often subject to certain limitations or restrictions. This is where the nurse may find themselves restricted from carrying out certain duties.

Still, the form of punishment for gross misconduct in nursing can be suspension. This kind of punishment involves the state board suspending the license of the nurse for a duration of time. During this period, the licensee cannot consider themselves a nurse and have no capacity to discharge the duties of a nurse, and the duration of the suspension relies on the degree of misconduct committed, it can be temporary or permanent (Kunyk & Deschenes, 2019). The license is relinquished to the board during the rear suspension, and the licensee is not allowed to practice or hold themselves out as a nurse. In some cases, the board may give the nurse permission to practice under probation while the probation is temporarily set aside.

On the other hand, revocation is when the board of nursing revokes the licensee’s license restricting them from practicing permanently, and they lose the title or their identification as a nurse. There may be a waiting time in which the nurse cannot appeal for reassessment or restoration, depending on the state. An example of license revocation is the case of RaDonda Vaught, a former nurse who mistakenly administered the wrong drug to Charlene Murphey, causing his death. Vaught lost her practice license in September 2019 after the Tennessee Board of Nursing decided to revoke her practice license (Kellman, 2022). Miss Vaught later pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide, and currently, she is facing sentencing.

The other disciplinary punishments include summary suspension and surrender of one’s license. When the governing body recognizes that allowing the nurse to continue practicing poses an immediate hazard to public safety, it places the nurse on summary suspension (Oyeleye, 2019). Surrender is when individual volunteers return their nursing license to the regulating authority, after which the nurse can no longer practice or regard themselves as a nurse. The voluntary surrender of one’s license is almost like revocation since, later, there may not be an opportunity to appeal for reinstatement.

The Feelings of a Nurse Student After Encountering the Provided Data

Indeed, any nursing student can be frightened after coming across such information considering the consequences they may face for any misconduct in nursing practice. A student aspiring to become a nurse can develop mixed emotions toward pursuing the nursing profession. From one perspective, it is strenuous to become a nurse or a nurse practitioner as an individual must undergo extensive and intensive training, which requires a lot of dedication and patience (Massachusetts Board of Nursing, n.d.). The feeling can be annoying after realizing that the time spent to become a professional nurse can be wasted with a simple mistake in one minute.

Additionally, the thought of having to encounter the disciplinary procedure can be irritating, and practitioners have to go through a lot during this period from facing the regulatory authority to the jury. A perfect example is the case of RaDonda Vaught, whose mistake occurred in 2017, but today, almost five years after the incident, her case is still going on (Kellman, 2022). The disciplinary procedure can be painful and irritating for those who find themselves on the wrong side of committing gross misconduct. The positive aspect of the disciplinary process that can be encouraging for aspiring students is that the regulating authorities are not there to criminalize nurses but rather to correct them and ensure that they deliver care that meets the required standards to facilitate patient safety, efficient care, and high-quality care.

Lessons Learned

The provided information was very insightful and eye-opening on what disciplinary action entails and the essence of nurses’ cooperation in the disciplinary process. The disciplinary procedure is critical to ensure patient and public safety. The correction of any wrongdoing or negligence in clinical practice ensures that nurses are well-equipped to deliver high-quality healthcare services that are equivalent to the required standards. The contribution of practitioners in the disciplinary process is paramount in establishing the grounds of discipline and the steps necessary for determining the appropriate solution to the complaints (Oyeleye, 2019). This is because healthcare workers can provide relevant evidence that can guide them regarding the next step of action concerning the complaints. The methods of resolving gross misconduct in clinical practice also incorporate the prosecution in the court of law, as seen in the case of RaDonda Vaught. This is where the accused nurse can face a trial in a court of law to determine if they are guilty or not.

How Nurses Can Prevent Gross Misconduct from Happening in the Future

Nurses can prevent gross misconduct in various ways, a nurse can ensure that they are well-informed when it comes to the nursing practice act of his or her state and adhere to the regulations appropriately. This is where a nurse can be knowledgeable and follow their state’s nursing practice act to make sure that they deliver according to the state’s set standards. Conforming to the ethical and legal mandates can guarantee that nurse practitioners practice as per the set legal and ethical principles ensuring they offer high-quality healthcare services, preventing any possible misconduct in the healthcare (Massachusetts Board of Nursing, n.d.). Interdisciplinary cooperation can promote the delivery of efficient care services as providers with different clinical knowledge work together to achieve a common goal, leading to increased efficiency and enhanced patient safety and outcome.

Nurses can prevent gross misconduct from occurring in the future by remaining professional all the time. Professionalism is essential since it ensures that nurses are attentive to the task at hand and that they deliver according to the standards set in place. Still, nurses can engage in continuous learning and training through clinical conferences and professional organizations. Healthcare providers can consistently participate in evidence-based clinical training by attending conferences to ascertain that they acquire more advanced training in their specific area of practice to avoid negligence. In conclusion, disciplinary action and process are an integral part of the nursing practice, and nurses play significant in the success of the disciplinary procedure. Collaboration between regulating authorities and nurses is crucial for the improvement of the healthcare industry in terms of the delivery of top-notch care services, the safety of patients, and enhanced patient outcomes.


Kaplan, L. (2020). NP licensure and the discipline process. The Nurse Practitioner, 45(3), 14-15. Web.

Kellman, B. (2022). Former nurse found guilty in accidental injection death of 75-year-old patient. HEALTH INC. Web.

Kunyk, D., & Deschenes, S. (2019). Disciplinary decisions regarding professional nurses: exploring regulatory decisions in a western Canadian province. Journal of Nursing Regulation, 10(3), 28-33. Web.

Massachusetts Board of Nursing. (n.d.). Disciplinary action taken by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing. Web.

Oyeleye, O. A. (2019). The nursing licensure compact and its disciplinary provisions: What nurses should know. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 24(2). Web.

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