In my practice I receive calls each week from nervous and frightened nurses who have been contacted either by telephone or letter from a Nursing Board or even Pharmacy Board investigator. The question I am always asked is:
Do I have to talk with the investigator?
First, never speak with investigators without competent legal counsel. Anything you tell an investigator can be used in a disciplinary action against you by your licensing board and/or by the police in a criminal investigation.
Depending on the facts in your case, sometimes I advise clients to speak with investigators or to provide a written statement to their licensing board regarding an alleged complaint. However, I never have my clients meet with investigators without legal counsel and I never allow my clients to submit written statement that I have not had a chance to review.
Also, don’t allow the investigator to set the timing for when you will respond to them. I am often contacted by nurses who have been contacted by an investigator from the Ohio Board of Nursing and advised that they need to meet with the investigator or submit a written statement to the investigator within 24 or 48 hours. These deadlines or almost always negotiable. Do not allow the investigator to rush you into providing them with the statement until you have had a chance to meet with legal counsel.
What happens if the board investigator takes advantage of knowing that you have no clue of your rights and talks with you for a while, only to tell you at the end of a conversation of your rights. Especially after I told her some things that probably helped in the decision to suspend my license. I’m trying to get them back but have no idea how to go about doing it.
What happens if the investigator doesn’t advise you of your rights until the end of the conversation, after knowing I had no clue of them?
Communication with a nursing board investigator is “voluntary” which means that you did not have to talk to them and you would have ended the conversation at any time. However, most nurses do not know that and provide quite a bit of information to the investigator. If the allegations lead to criminal charges, then your defense attorney may be able to suppress some of the information being used against you. However, in a civil (Nursing Board) case, any information that you provided to the investigation may be used to discipline your nursing license. If I can be of any further assistance, please contact my office.