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Sleeping on duty can endanger your nursing license  

On Behalf of | Jul 4, 2024 | Nursing License Defense |

Nurses work long hours, offering care for clients around the clock. They can take meal and rest breaks during their usual 12- and 24-hour shifts. It is critical that they do so because exhaustion may lead to medical errors.

Still, what happens when a patient, co-worker or administrator alleges sleeping while on the job? The California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) will investigate whether the nurse indeed exhibited unprofessional conduct, and legal repercussions could result.

Sleeping on duty can jeopardize your professional standing

If someone complains about you on the grounds of gross negligence or incompetence, the BRN may review patient records, interview colleagues and potentially request a written explanation from you. The potential consequences of a BRN investigation include:

  • Disciplinary action by your employer: This could include verbal warning and suspension or termination.
  • A citation from the BRN: This can appear on your public license record, potentially impacting future employment opportunities.
  • Probation or license suspension: In severe cases, the BRN may impose probationary conditions on your license or even suspend it temporarily or permanently.

The severity of the penalty varies from case to case. Penalties may be more severe if you sleep through a critical patient event, a patient suffers from harm during that period and has a history of similar incidents.

Caring for yourself means protecting your license

If you face such accusations, seeking legal counsel can help protect your nursing license and career. Many license revocations by the BRN involves nurses who opt to represent themselves.

More importantly, while you are primarily responsible to your patients, do not forget to take care of yourself. If you feel overtired, you can ask for a reassignment of additional breaks. Aim to maintain a regular sleep schedule outside of work. Caring for yourself means protecting your license, after all.

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