Change in Policy At Board of Registered Nursing Leads To Revocation of Nursing Licenses By Default

Upon service of an Accusation or Statement of Issues, a nurse respondent has 15 days to file a Notice of Defense pursuant to California Government Code section 11506. Until recently, instructions entitled "Statement to Respondent" directed respondents to mail a Notice of Defense form to the Deputy Attorney General assigned to the case. New revised forms instruct nurses to file a Notice of Defense directly with the Board of Registered Nursing.

The problem is that attorneys have reported cases in which the Board rejected late Notice of Defense forms in order to revoke or deny nursing licenses by default. For many years, the Department of Justice has acted in the interest of justice to accept late Notice of Defense forms. Other agencies like the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Department of Real Estate and Department of Insurance exercise similar discretion to accept late Notice of Defense forms. As a result of this harsh new policy, misdirected mail or a two-week vacation may lead to the revocation or denial of a nursing license without due process. Nurses facing defaults in these situations can obtain relief from default, but this extra step may increase legal fees. Unfortunately, the result of this policy change may be that more nurses will give up their licenses without the chance to be heard.

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