A nurse’s job requires interpersonal and administrative skills as much as it requires medical knowledge. They often serve as an intermediary between the doctor overseeing the care of patients and the patients at a medical practice or hospital. Nurses may have to explain a doctor’s instructions or help carry them out. They often administer physical treatments and medications and routinely check up on patients to track their response to treatment or the progression of their medical condition. They are almost always the professionals with the most hands-on interactions with patients.
Some people, therefore, blame nurses for unfavorable medical outcomes and some ultimately file claims that a nurse has treated them differently because of certain protected characteristics. It is generally illegal to discriminate against people on the basis of protected characteristics including their sex, race and religion.
Discrimination may constitute unprofessional conduct
The California Board of Registered Nursing provides an opportunity for those concerned about the standard of medical care that they received to file a complaint. One of the multiple justifications for initiating a complaint and potentially requesting an investigation is the unprofessional conduct of a licensed medical professional like a nurse.
Discrimination would typically constitute unprofessional behavior. If a nurse used discriminatory language or failed to provide a professional standard of care to a specific patient because of their protected characteristics, then the patient impacted by that conduct or their family members may have reason to initiate a complaint. Should the California Board of Registered Nursing substantiate the claims that discrimination has affected someone’s performance, it may then take disciplinary action.
In some cases, discipline might involve anti-discrimination training or a formal reprimand. In more severe circumstances, someone’s license could be at risk. Simple mistakes, like using the wrong words when talking to or about an individual, could potentially trigger complaints that could culminate in serious disciplinary action against a nurse.
Those facing complaints still have rights
The investment someone makes in their nursing license represents years of effort and tens of thousands of dollars in most cases. People shouldn’t have to worry about losing all of that over a misunderstanding or a mistake. Those facing disciplinary action or an investigation have the right to bring a lawyer to represent them at hearings. Ultimately, responding proactively to claims of discrimination or other forms of unprofessional conduct may help people protect their nursing licenses and their livelihoods.