Statutes of limitation are designed for use in civil and criminal litigation to prevent unreasonable delay and the prosecution of stale claims for the purpose of preserving the expectation of private legal rights. However, in the absence of a specific statute to the contrary, statutes of limitation are inapplicable to administrative board of nursing license revocation and disciplinary proceedings. Boards of Nursing (BON) take disciplinary action in order to protect the public by insuring that only properly qualified and ethical individuals practice nursing. This public safety objective is not time-limited.
After a BON's consideration of the complaint and the immediate evidence available, an emergency action may be necessary. Emergency actions usually take the form of a summary suspension of a nurse’s license. The general standard for this action is clear and convincing evidence that continued practice by the nurse would present a danger of immediate and serious harm to the public. This action may be revised after the full investigation.
The language used to describe the types of disciplinary actions available to BONs varies according to state law. Although terminology may differ, board disciplinary action affects the nurse's licensure status and ability to practice nursing in the jurisdiction. Board actions may include:
Fine or civil penalty
Referral to an alternative to discipline program for practice monitoring and recovery support (drug or alcohol dependent nurses, or in some other mental or physical conditions)
Public reprimand or censure for minor violation of nurse practice act often with no restrictions on license
Imposition of requirements for monitoring, remediation, education or other provision tailored to the particular situation
Limitation or restriction of one or more aspects of practice (e.g., probation with certain restrictions, limiting role, setting, activities, hours worked)
Separation from practice for a period of time (suspension) or loss of license (revocation or voluntary surrender)
Remediation (various educational content or exercises)
Other state specific remedies
A state BON has the authority to take action against a licensee on the basis of another state’s licensure disciplinary action that implicates the individual’s ongoing ability and likelihood to practice professionally and safely. This retained jurisdictional authority, allowed by administrative law principles and case law, seeks to prevent the nurse from evading disciplinary action merely by fleeing the state.