APRN Patient Dispute

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Attorney: Tricia Shackelford

Case Summary:

An Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) came to Tricia Shackelford after receiving a letter from the Kentucky Board of Nursing (the "KBN") regarding a complaint that had been filed against her by the family of one of her patients.

After reviewing all the documents of the patients' diagnosis and consent to the treatment plan, Tricia was able to swiftly craft a strategy for her client and deliver a wonderful result.

Case Highlights

Jane Smith is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) licensed to practice within the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Psychiatric nursing is her specialty. Jane called me looking for help after receiving a letter from the Kentucky Board of Nursing (the “KBN”) regarding a complaint that had been filed against her by the family of one of her patients.

Jane had been treating Kate Brooks for several years. Kate was struggling with anxiety, depression, and a substance use disorder. After completing a thorough evaluation of Kate, Jane created a treatment plan for her – which consisted of medication and therapy. Jane and Kate discussed the risks and benefits of the medication that Jane wanted to prescribe. After that conversation, Kate, with full informed, consent, agreed with Jane’s treatment plan and Kate started with treatment.

During her course of treatment, Kate maintained regular appointments with Jane and other appropriate providers in her practice. Kate submitted to routine urine drug screening and Jane and her colleagues regularly checked Kate’s KASPER reports. The results of Kate’s drug screens always showed that she was taking the medications prescribed to her properly and that she was not taking any other mood-altering substances. Additionally, Kate’s KASPER reports were always appropriate. Kate had several legal matters to deal with during this time and the Court found no issues with Kate’s treatment plan or the medication that Jane prescribed for her. Kate’s family filed a complaint against Jane with the KBN, challenging the treatment plan that Jane had developed for Kate as well as Jane’s authority to prescribe medication for Kate.

Upon receiving a copy of the complaint, Jane and I went right to work! Jane and I met and reviewed all the records she kept documenting Kate’s diagnosis and treatment plan. Then Jane and I worked together to craft a response to the family’s complaint. We explained that KRS 314.011 authorizes duly licensed APRN’s to prescribe controlled substances and documented both the steps Jane took to evaluate Kate and the ongoing oversight of Kate’s compliance with her treatment plan, including taking all her medications as prescribed.

The KBN reviewed our response and determined that Jane’s treatment of Kate was appropriate and that she had not violated laws governing the practice of APRNs within the Commonwealth. As such, the KBN declined to take any action against Jane’s nursing license. Jane was thrilled and I was very happy to have provided her with such a wonderful result.

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