Indiana Standards of Practice for Nursing
The Indiana standards of practice for nursing and other health professions is located in Indiana Code 25-1-9-4. These standards, which are more broadly known as the Indiana Health Professions Standards of Practice, are intended to prevent harm to patients. Therefore, any medical professional who is found in violation of these standards could face discipline by the Board that regulates their occupation and professional license.
If you are concerned that disciplinary action may be taken against you by the state Board of Nursing, it’s vital that you speak with an experienced Indiana Board of Nursing attorney as soon as possible. The Board has the power to levy harsh disciplinary actions that could negatively impact both your financial and professional future.
To protect your career and livelihood, contact the professional licensing attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP. Our team has extensive experience defending nurses before the Indiana State Board of Nursing. We will work to ensure a fair process in front of the Board, promote a robust investigation of the claims against you, and provide a capable argument in your defense.
If you have questions about Indiana professional licensure or would simply like to speak with an attorney today, call us at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Indiana Health Professionals Standards of Care
The Indiana standards of practice for nursing prescribe a set of guidelines that must be upheld by all licensed nurses, as well as other licensed medical professionals, in the state of Indiana. Under these standards, the State Board of Nursing could deem a nurse to be unfit to practice due to failure to keep up to date with current professional practices, physical or mental disability, professional incompetence, or for being addicted to drugs or alcohol. The board may also question a nurse’s ability to practice competently following a conviction for a crime that directly impacts their professional abilities or that could be considered injurious to the public.
While many of these standards are rather straightforward, there is one catch-all provision that prohibits nurses from “knowingly violating any state statute or rule, or federal statute or rule that regulates the profession.” This standard, though often cited by the Board as the basis of a violation, is up to interpretation. The key word here is “knowingly.” This specific wording means that the Board has the burden to determine the licensee’s state of mind at the time of the violation; whether they knew or should have known that they were in violation. Making this determination — or defending against an allegation regarding the nurse’s state of mind — requires refined legal strategy and strong litigation skills. Therefore, it’s best to have one of the more experienced Indiana nursing license lawyers on your side during any disciplinary hearings with the Board. If you’d like to speak with an attorney today, call Keffer Hirschauer LLP at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Standards of Competent Practice in the Indiana Nurse Practice Act
The Indiana Nurse Practice Act sets forth additional Indiana Standards of Practice for nursing. These standards include compliance with the nursing process, the responsibilities required of a member of the nursing profession, and the obligation to avoid any action that could be considered unprofessional conduct.
Responsibilities to Apply the Indiana Nursing Process
Per 848 IAC 2-2-1, a registered and licensed nurse in Indiana shall always be compliant with the nursing process standards by doing the following:
- Assess the patient/client in a systematic, organized manner.
- Formulate a nursing diagnosis based on accessible, communicable, and recorded data which is collected in a systematic and continuous manner.
- Plan care which includes goals and prioritized nursing approaches or measures derived from the nursing diagnosis.
- Implement strategies to provide for patient/client participation in health promotion, maintenance, and restoration.
- Initiate nursing actions to assist the patient/client to maximize his or her health capabilities.
- Evaluate with the patient/client the status of goal achievement as a basis for reassessment, reordering priorities, new goal setting, and revision of the plan of nursing care.
- Seek educational resources and create learning experiences to enhance and maintain current knowledge and skills for his or her continuing competence in nursing practice and individual professional growth.
Responsibilities of Indiana Nurses as Members of the Nursing Profession
The Indiana Nurse Practice Act also requires nurses to meet the responsibilities expected of them as a member of the nursing profession at-large. Under 848 IAC 2-2-2, this means a registered and licensed nurse in Indiana must function within the legal boundaries of the nursing practice based on the knowledge of statutes and rules governing the occupation.
They must also accept responsibility for individual nursing actions and continued competence; communicate, collaborate, and function with other members of the health team to provide safe and effective care; and seek education and supervision as necessary when implementing nursing practice techniques. In addition, nurses can only delegate and supervise nursing measures when they know that the other person is prepared, qualified, or licensed to perform and must retain accountability for nursing care when delegating nursing intervention.
Furthermore, Indiana nurses are required to respect the dignity and rights of the patient regardless of the socioeconomic status, personal attributes, or nature of their health complication(s). They must respect and safeguard the property of the client or their family/significant others and maintain each patient’s right to privacy by protecting their confidential information unless required by law to disclose that information.
Unprofessional Conduct under the Indiana Standards of Practice for Nursing
Finally, 848 IAC 2-2-3 states that nursing behaviors (acts, knowledge, and practices) that fail to meet the most basic standards of acceptable and prevailing nursing practice, which could jeopardize the health, safety, and welfare of the public, shall constitute unprofessional conduct. Some examples of these behaviors include:
- Performing a nursing technique without proper education or experience
- Abusing a patient verbally, physically, emotionally, or sexually
- Falsifying, omitting, or destroying documentation of nursing actions on the official patient/client record
- Diverting prescription drugs for own or another person’s use
- Failing to notify, in writing, the appropriate party – AG’s office, Employer, Contracting Agency, Indiana State Board of Nursing – of any unprofessional conduct that could jeopardize patient or client safety
Penalties for Violations and Indiana Standards of Practice for Nursing
If a complaint is made against a nursing license in Indiana, the licensee will likely be called in front of the Board for a hearing. If evidence is found to support the allegations made against the licensee, the Indiana State Board of Nursing can impose a variety of penalties. As stated in Indiana Code 25-1-9-9, these penalties may include:
- Permanent revocation of license
- Suspension of license
- Censure of the licensee
- Written reprimand of licensee
- Placement of the licensee on probation
- Required participation in the Indiana State Nurses Assistance Program (ISNAP)
- Assessment of a civil penalty of not more than $1,000 per violation
Indiana State Nurses Assistance Program
The Indiana State Nurses Assistance Program is a substance abuse monitoring program for nurses, managed by the Indiana Professionals Recovery Program (IPRP). This program is designed to support Indiana nurses who may be struggling with substance abuse while still allowing them to continue working in the field.
Many nurses engage the services of ISNAP through self-reporting. For example, a nurse may notify the Indiana State Board of Nursing of a DUI conviction. Other nurses, however, may have entered the program through regulatory referral. This often means that they encountered a legal problem, such as diverting medication, or a complaint from their employer, like failing a drug test, and now must participate in the program to either regain or maintain their nursing license. Nurses in ISNAP are typically bound to a one to three-year-long Recovery Monitoring Agreement (or RMA). The RMA outlines the conditions of the nurse’s participation in ISNAP and could include mandatory drug and alcohol testing, counseling, or other treatment services.
The Importance of Hiring a Professional License Defense Attorney
While the Indiana Standards of Practice for nursing are clearly intended to prevent patient harm, some prohibitions are written rather broadly and can be open to interpretation, for better or worse. This is especially true when it comes to whether the actions in question placed a patient in harm’s way or had a direct, negative impact on the nurse’s ability to practice competently, or the behavior, intent, or state of mind of the nurse.
Take, for example, a conviction of a first-time DUI in Indiana. If the Indiana State Board of Nursing determines that this conviction has a direct bearing on the nurse’s ability to practice competently, their license could be at risk. But how this first-time DUI directly impacts the nurse’s ability to practice competently is often debatable, which is why it is vital to have an experienced Indiana professional license defense attorney by your side for any disciplinary hearing. They could help argue that the conviction or complaint made against you has no impact on your ability to practice nursing in a competent manner. If successful, this could negate or reduce the possible penalties the Board has the power to impose upon you.
Need to Speak with an Attorney About the Indiana Standards of Practice for Nursing?
Like most other health professions, nursing is not an easy occupation to pursue. It requires specialized education, as well as rigorous study and training. It also requires strict compliance with the Indiana Standards of Practice for nursing to obtain and maintain a nursing license. Given this, any Indiana nurse whose licensure is at risk should speak with an experienced Indiana nursing license defense lawyer prior to attending any disciplinary hearing with the State Board of Nursing.
If you’d like to speak with an Indiana Board of Nursing attorney today, call Keffer Hirschauer LLP at 317-648-9560. Our experienced professional license defense attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of Indiana nurses. Using exceptional litigation skills acquired through decades of work as trial lawyers, we understand just how important your nursing license is to you and what it takes to protect both you and your career.