Formal administrative hearings are one of the options provided to a person who has significant interests that will be affected by agency action and who contests the material facts involved in the case. In the practice of nursing, we are usually discussing a hearing involving the professional license of the nurse. In many cases this will be a notice of intent to deny a license application; however, in most cases, it will be based on an administrative complaint filed against the nurse charging the nurse with a violation of the Nurse Practice Act or other misconduct.
The administrative complaint will usually be accompanied by an election of rights (EOR) form. Here is an example of an Election of Rights form.
It is extremely important that the EOR is filed (actually received) at the Department of Health within the time specified in it. We recommend that you telefax it in (keeping a copy of the telefax cover sheet and the transmittal receipt showing it was timely and properly telefaxed) and that you also mail it in via certified mail, return receipt requested, keeping a copy of it.
In most cases, it will be the best option for a nurse to elect a formal administrative hearing. By making this election and disputing the allegations made in the administrative complaint, you have preserved all of your options. Later on, if you change your mind, an agreement to settle the matter can be entered into at any time before a final decision is made on the merits of the case.
A settlement agreement (also called a “stipulation”) can be negotiated at any time. A settlement agreement is similar to a plea bargain in a criminal case. If you enter into a settlement agreement or stipulation, it will be scheduled for presentation and approval at a Board of Nursing meeting. However, the Board of Nursing does not always accept such settlement agreements and may reject it or offer you a different one.
If you are not able to obtain a settlement agreement with terms that are acceptable to you, you have preserved your right to have the charges tried before an impartial administrative law judge (ALJ). As your case progresses, the decision of whether or not it is advisable to enter into a stipulation or to proceed on toward the formal administrative hearing is one which may be reviewed and considered periodically. If
you do desire to settle the case, you should immediately let your attorney know this.
For more information on administrative complaints against nurses and formal administrative hearings, please visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.