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Nursing License Suspension/Revocation in California

Under What Circumstances Can a Nursing License be Suspended or Revoked in the State of California?

In California, the ability to suspend or revoke the license of a vocational nurse is delegated to the Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians of the State of California. It consists of 11 members who make the ultimate decision on whether or not a registered nurse deserves punishment, and if they do, there are 3 main ways the board may do this.

  • The board may place a license under probation, meaning that the nurse can still practice with the probationary license that typically comes with some type of added terms or conditions (EX: nurse must attend rehabilitation, psychological treatment, etc)
  • The board may temporarily suspend a license for a period not exceeding one year.
  • The board may permanently revoke a license.

California Business and Professions Code Section 2878

In order for a license to qualify for suspension or revocation, there are certain criteria that it must meet as outlined in California Business and Professions Code Section 2878. Having said that, the language used in the code is quite vague and gives the board a substantial amount of freedom when making their decision.

Under the code, any “Unprofessional conduct, which includes, but is not limited to…” is grounds for the board to suspend or revoke a nursing license. In addition to the wide tent that this language creates, BPC Section 2878 also outlines specific actions that could lead to suspension or revocation. Some of these include:

  1. Gross negligence, incompetence, or excessive force used on a patient
  2. The use of advertising relating to nursing (violates section 17500)
  3. Failure to maintain patient confidentiality
  4. Fraudulently producing or signing documents
  5. Impersonating a medical practitioner
  6. Participating in the act of or administering a criminal abortion
  7. Committing any crime relating to the duties of nursing
  8. Any act involving dishonesty that is related to the duties of nursing
  9. Any unlawful use or administration of controlled substances
  10. Failure to report another licensee for committing an infraction

After a suspension period, the board will conduct a review of the nurses’ actions and reinstate the license if no infractions were committed. If a nurse chooses to practice with a suspended license, that is grounds for immediate and permanent revocation of said license.

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