Friday, October 5, 2007

Administrative Hearings- What are Those?

Having spoken with several nurses recently, it is obvious that an Administrative Hearing is not well understood. A hearing in Administrative Law is comparable to a trial in criminal or civil courts. The main exception is that there is no jury in Administrative Law and some of the evidence rules are different. But, an Administrative Hearing is just as serious as a criminal case or a civil lawsuit.

The Texas Board of Nursing does not usually go to a hearing at the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH)with a nurse unless the allegations are serious or the Board has not been able to obtain a response from the nurse or the parties have not been able to resolve the case through negotiations. The case may not be negotiated either because the nurse does not believe she/he did anything wrong, or they do not agree with the severity of the proposed restrictions by the Board.

Hearings are very expensive and time consuming and there is little control over the outcome, which are the reasons I try to avoid hearings. The Board is usually reasonable and a negotiated agreement that the nurse is content with and that protects the public can usually be reached by the parties. However, this is not always true and at times the only solution is to proceed to a hearing in order to protect one's rights.

The key hint to nurses is to NOT ignore the correspondence sent by the Board and to be sure and seek appropriate legal advice when that correspondence is received.

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