The Nursing Board's Mission
The mission of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing is to lead in the protection of the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the Commonwealth through the fair and consistent application of the statutes and regulations governing nursing practice and nursing education.
The Board's Obligation to Investigate Complaints
State law authorizes the Board to investigate complaints against nurses, and to sanction a nurse's license when there is evidence of a nurse's violation of law, regulations or standards of conduct that may pose a risk to the public. The Board has a range of sanctions that it may impose, depending on what is determined necessary to ensure that the nurse's unsafe behaviors or practice deficiencies are remediated, and the nurse has demonstrated that he or she is able to practice in a safe and competent manner.
Laws and Board Process
The U.S. Constitution and state administrative law provide for the due process rights of a nurse against whom a complaint is filed. The nurse is presumed innocent until proven guilty and has a constitutional right to keep his or her license (the nurse's property interest) until completion of the Board's complaint resolution proceedings. During these proceedings, the nurse has a legal right to due process (an opportunity to be heard). These rights include the right to counsel, the right to contest the allegations against her, the right to certain notices, and the opportunity for a full administrative hearing at which the Board must prove the allegations by a preponderance of the evidence before taking any action against the nurse's license.
During the Board's investigation and complaint resolution process, specifics of a complaint are not made public except for the number of complaints pending and the date they were filed. The intent is not to protect violators, but to ensure the integrity of the investigation. If an employer learns that a nurse has an open complaint, the Board recommends that he or she seek detailed information about the matter directly from the nurse.
Consistent with the Mass. Public Records law, MGL c.66, all information about closed complaints is public, except for the name of the complaining person, and any patient identifying information.
What You Need to Know if a Complaint is Filed Against Your License
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) has produced a video that may help you understand the complaint process. This process is discussed and summarized on the NCSBN web site. The video Board of Nursing Complaint Process: Investigation to Resolution can be found at www.ncsbn.org/3496.htm.