There are many ways in which nurses can jeopardize their licenses that would not have such an effect on other careers. Below is a list of some of the incidents that typically trigger licensure actions.

  • Failing to file income taxes
  • Falling behind on child support payments
  • Public intoxication
  • Domestic abuse
  • Having a restraining order against you
  • Urinating in public
  • Harassment or stalking
  • Fighting
  • Shoplifting

The above are just the tip of the iceberg, however. Misconduct can also include becoming involved in a personal relationship with a patient, or even continuing to treat someone with whom you previously had a relationship.

Here in Sacramento or other major metropolitan areas, it’s easy enough to hand off the patient to another nurse for care. But in smaller, close-knit communities where everybody seems to know one another, this may not always be possible. Nurses must always make sure that they act without reproach and with the utmost discretion in those instances.

Nurses have to walk a tightrope of providing the highest level of care without allowing themselves to become overly involved in a patient’s family or personal life. When it crosses the therapeutic line, that nurse puts her license on the line as well.

In recent years, nurses’ use of social media has come under scrutiny. Neonatal nurses at a Florida naval hospital were “removed from patient care” after posting pictures and videos online where they “flipped off” the babies, called them “mini Satans” and made them dance to rap music.

While that might be an extreme example, more innocuous online posts and rants about patients can violate their Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy rights.

Even mentioning a specific detail, e.g., “the post-op hip” can provide enough detail to reveal a nursing unit, and potentially, the patient. It’s not prudent to make posts online that could, in any way, lead to identifying a patient.

Another thing to avoid is ever taking a photo of a patient with your camera or cellphone. Even if the patient grants permission, subsequent disclosures are not necessarily allowed.

Remember, too, that the internet is forever. Whether you post something derogatory or identifying and then delete it, all it takes is one screenshot somebody snapped to doom your career. It’s not prudent to place yourself unnecessarily in jeopardy where you must defend your nursing license.

Source: Arthur L. Davis Publishing Agency, Inc., “Your Personal Conduct Outside of Work Can Lead to Discipline from the Nursing Boards,” Lisa L. Lilly, BSN, RN, JD, accessed Dec. 29, 2017