Complaints and Disciplinary Process
To safeguard life, health, and the public welfare, and to protect citizens from unauthorized, unqualified, and improper application of nursing education programs and nursing practices, in accordance with SDCL 36-9 and SDCL 36-9A.
What are the Grounds for Discipline by the South Dakota Board of Nursing?
State law authorizes the Board to take action against nurse licenses for violations. Specific grounds for action are outlined in SDCL 36-9-49.
Note: a complaint concerning a Certified Nurse Aide should be directed to South Dakota Department of Health.
Mandatory Reporting: South Dakota law requires individuals in the medical and mental health professions and employees or entities that have ongoing contact with and exposure to elders and adults with disabilities to report knowledge or reasonable suspicion of abuse or neglect of elders and adults with disabilities. For more information, see the South Dakota Department of Social Services website.
To Report a Complaint
Anyone who believes that a nurse has committed any violation(s) is encouraged to contact the Board of Nursing staff, by phone, fax, mail, or email. Please include the name of the nurse, nature of the complaint, and any other information that would assist the staff in its investigation, including dates, specific activities or practices of concern, witness names, etc. You may choose to remain anonymous; to the extent allowed by law, the Board attempts to maintain the confidentiality of the complainant. Please submit contact information; you will be contacted within a maximum of two weeks to acknowledge that the complaint was received. Information and documents obtained during the Board's investigation remain confidential except where admitted into evidence at a formal disciplinary hearing. The Board of Nursing's Board of Directors meets regularly and as often as necessary to accomplish its mission. As the complainant, you will also be informed of final actions taken by the Board.
Components of an Initial Complaint
—Full Name, including middle initial
—Nursing License #
—Other identifying information, i.e., date of birth, Social Security # , etc.
—Name and Title of primary contact for this complaint
What, When, and Where
Detailed written explanation of occurrence, including dates, times, places, and persons involved.
- Past facility work history of the nurse if prior action has been taken by the facility.
- Witness statements if taken by the facility prior to reporting.
- Medical records or other internal documents that provide evidence of reported occurrence. (South Dakota Board of Nursing is exempt from HIPAA regulations under Title 45, Volume 1 164.512 2 (D)).
- Statement informing what action the facility has taken to date, i.e., termination, suspension, HPAP, internal employee assistance referral, etc.
- Statement informing the Board as to the status of law enforcement involvement.
- If the nurse confesses during an internal investigation or to law enforcement, prepare a statement that includes what exactly the nurse confesses to, the date, time, and place of the confession, as well as a list of all persons present at the time of the confession.
After the Complaint Is Made
The Board of Nursing takes complaints about nurses seriously. As soon as a complaint is received at the Board of Nursing, work begins. First, a determination is made as to whether or not the facts, as alleged, violate existing laws or regulations that govern the nurse’s practice. Remember: the Board of Nursing only has jurisdiction over licensed nurses in the state of South Dakota, with no authority over employment settings.
If a violation of law or regulation did indeed occur, and the person is licensed as a nurse in the state of South Dakota, then an immediate investigation into the facts of the case is begun. Evidence is gathered and interviews are conducted. This process may take a number of weeks prior to a decision being made by the Board.
If evidence obtained during the investigation supports the allegation(s), and the licensee does not dispute the facts, the Board of Nursing may negotiate a settlement with the licensee, outlining the facts of the violation and appropriate sanction. If the licensee contests the charges, he/she is entitled to a formal hearing. During this hearing, both sides may present evidence and witnesses. Lawyers will be present. The Board of Nursing determines and issues the sanction. Please review the South Dakota Board of Nursing Disciplinary Process Flow Chart shown below for more details.
Sanctions from which the Board of Nursing may choose:
- Dismissal of Complaint
- Letter of Concern
- Letter of Reprimand
- Licensure Denied
- Probation Ordered; Closure, Early Closure, or Modification of Probation Granted or Denied
- Revoke or Suspend the License
- Reinstatement of License Granted or Denied
- HPAP Participation Mandated; Closure, Early Closure, or Modification of HPAP Participation Granted or Denied
- HPAP with Probation; Closure, Early Closure, or Modification of HPAP/Probation Granted or Denied
All Disciplinary Actions (but not Non-Disciplinary Board Actions) are published on this website and in the Dakota Nurse Connection magazine after every Board Meeting. Also, this information is furnished quarterly to the Attorney General's Office.