What is a Board of Nursing?
In 1917, the South Dakota Board of Nursing was established by state government to protect the public’s health by overseeing and ensuring the safe practice of nursing. The Board achieves this mission by establishing standards for safe nursing care and issuing licenses to practice nursing. Once a license is issued, the Board’s job continues by monitoring licensees’ compliance to state laws and taking action against licenses of those nurses who have exhibited unsafe nursing practice.
Individuals who serve on the Board of Nursing are appointed; state law dictates that membership include a mix of licensed registered nurses, licensed practical/vocational nurses, and consumers (public members). The Board meets to oversee nursing activities and to take disciplinary action on nurse licenses as necessary.
An educated consumer is an important partner to the Board in making sure that unsafe nursing practice is eliminated. This document contains specific information for consumers who want to know how to report a complaint about a licensed nurse.
The Consumer's Right to Know
You have a right to know who is taking care of you or your loved ones. Whenever healthcare is being provided, you should always ask of the caregiver "who are you?" and "what are your credentials?" Keep on record the following three pieces of information:
- The healthcare provider’s name
- The provider’s licensure or credential (for example, registered nurse, licensed practical or vocational nurse, certified nurse aide
- The healthcare provider’s title
What Can Consumers Expect?
Good healthcare providers are interested in your well being. They want to share their expertise with you and your loved ones in order to reach optimal health for the patient; don’t hesitate to ask questions. Here’s what you can expect:
- To see the license of your healthcare provider
- To be informed of the healthcare provider’s professional limits or expertise of care
- A copy of your healthcare records upon request
- The ability to terminate the healthcare service at any time
- To know how to reach the healthcare provider in case of an emergency
- A professional demeanor from your healthcare provider that respects your rights
- Choice in the involvement of your family
What Is a Violation?
State law authorizes the Board of Nursing to take action against nurse licenses for violations that may include:
- Drug and/or alcohol abuse
- Sexual misconduct or sexual harassment
- Abuse - whether verbal, physical or mental
- Negligent or incompetent care
- Theft of property
- Fraud or misrepresentation
- Lack of confidentiality
- Unprofessional or dishonorable conduct
- Conviction of a felony
- Unlicensed practice
If you believe harm has been done, if you are dissatisfied with nursing service, or if you question the behavior of a nurse for any reason, contact the Board of Nursing.
Reporting to the Board of Nursing
Should you have a concern about nursing care, the Board of Nursing wants to hear from you. Remember that you are a partner in making sure that safe healthcare is provided. To help in the investigation of your complaint, here is what you should have ready to report:
- Nurse’s name, first and last.
- What did he/she do?
- With whom did it happen?
- Date and time it happened.
- Where did it happen?
- Did anyone witness it? If so, include the name(s).
Be sure to state your name, address, and phone number. This will be very important in order for the Board of Nursing to communicate with you.
Other Helpful Information:
- License number of the nurse, if known
- Social Security number of the nurse, if known
- Type of nurse (RN; LPN, LVN; APN: CNM, CNP, CNS, CRNA), if known
- Name of nurse’s employer, if known
After the Complaint Is Made
The Board of Nursing takes complaints about nurses seriously. As soon as a complaint is received, 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 is only authorized to act against persons who are licensed as nurses.
If a violation of law or rule did indeed occur, and the violator is licensed as a nurse, an immediate investigation into the facts of the case is begun. Evidence is gathered and interviews are conducted.
If the 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.
Sanctions may vary; however, money damages are not awarded to consumers. Below is a sample of the actions that the Board of Nursing may choose to take:
- Warn, censure, or reprimand the licensee
- Place on probation or set a condition of licensure
- Limit the license
- Suspend the license
- Revoke the license
- Dismiss the complaint
Never be cautious about reporting an incompetent or unsafe nurse. You are entitled to safe nursing care. By participating in this fair process when the situation warrants, you help the Board of Nursing ensure that the public is protected. You are commended for your action.