Every nurse works hard to earn and maintain a state license to practice nursing, and should be aware of the various disciplinary measures and procedures that can be used when patient care is in question. Peer review for nurses is a mechanism for evaluating the services being provided by a nurse, the nurse’s qualifications, the quality of care delivered to patients, and the validity of a complaint. Peer review can be conducted at the request of the nurse (“Safe Harbor peer review”) or commenced by the facility (“Incident-based peer review”).
Incident-based peer review is used to determine whether a nurse’s conduct should be reported to the Texas Board of Nursing (BON). Nursing peer review procedures must contain certain due process and good faith requirements. Due process requirements must include, at a minimum:
- Notification of the date the peer review committee will meet at least 21 days but not later than 45 days from the date the notice is given;
- Receipt of a copy of the facility’s peer review policy;
- Receipt of information about the event being evaluated;
- Information about where to send a response;
- The ability to review pertinent documents at least 15 days before appearing before the committee;
- The opportunity to appear before the committee, including making a statement, call and question witnesses, and ask and answer questions;
- Completion by the peer review committee within 14 days of the hearing;
- Receipt of written notification of the committee’s conclusions within 10 days of completion; and
- The opportunity, within 10 days of notification, to rebut the committee’s findings in writing.
The peer review committee must report to the BON if it believes in good faith that the nurse has violated the rules subject to reporting under the Nursing Practice Act. These rules include standards of practice and unprofessional conduct. If the event qualifies as a minor incident, it may not be reportable to the BON unless the nurse:
- Ignored a significant risk of harm to the patient;
- Was not conscientious or accountable in his or her practice;
- Was not knowledgeable or competent to act appropriately; or
- Constitutes a pattern of repeated minor incidents that, if allowed to continue, could harm patients.
Nurses should be aware that a nursing peer review committee cannot take actions relating to a nurse’s employment or discipline. The facility may, however, take the committee’s decision into account in making employment or disciplinary decisions.
Any nurse who is notified of an event giving rise to the peer review process should immediately contact an attorney for assistance in preparing for and attending the peer review hearing. Having an experienced Texas professional license defense attorney on your side could make all the difference in continuing in your job and livelihood. Contact Oscar San Miguel, Attorney at Law, for a consultation today.