What Happens When I File a Complaint with the Minnesota Board of Nursing?
Filing a Complaint
- Anyone can submit a complaint with concerns about a nurse's practice of nursing. You do not need an attorney to submit a complaint. In some cases, an individual or entity is required to make a report to the Board. For more details on reporting obligations, click here.
- Please submit your complaint in writing. You may use one of the Board's complaint registration forms, found below, but you are not required to use the form.
- Provide as much information as you can regarding your concern. Do not provide patient medical records unless you are legally authorized to do so. If you are aware of other sources of helpful information, please identify the sources.
- If you have questions about the complaint, please contact the Board. Board staff can help you determine if your complaint is one that the Board can investigate. Contact the Board at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-317-3000.
- Complaints are not public information. The information in the complaint will only be shared with Board members and staff; the Minnesota Attorney General's Office, which functions as the Board's attorney and sometimes conducts the Board's investigations; and the person who is being investigated.
- Even though the information in the complaint may be shared with the nurse, the name and identity of the person who filed the complaint remains confidential. The Board will review anonymous complaints but investigating the complaint may be more difficult if the Board cannot communicate with the complainant.
- By law, the Board is only allowed to investigate complaints that allege a violation of the Minnesota Nurse Practice Act. The Board does not have the authority to investigate private disputes that do not allege a violation of the Minnesota Nurse Practice Act. The Board will determine whether the reported conduct is a violation of the Nurse Practice Act. Violations include practice by a nurse that is unsafe, incompetent, unethical or impaired by the use of alcohol, drugs or chemicals or as the result of a mental or physical condition. The grounds for disciplinary action by the Board are found in Minnesota Statute section 148.261.
What Happens After You File a Report?
- If you provide your address, you will receive written acknowledgment that the Board has received your complaint. If the review of your complaint is not finished within 120 days, you will receive an update on the status of the case.
- Once it is determined that the complaint relates to a violation of the Minnesota Nurse Practice Act, a Board staff person is assigned to the file.
- In most cases, the Board itself investigates the complaint. If you are a patient, the Board may contact you to obtain a waiver to obtain your relevant medical records. The Board can also obtain records, such as employment records of the nurse, using a subpoena. In some cases, such as complaints that allege fraud or sexual impropriety, the file will be forwarded to the Attorney General's Office ("AGO") for investigation.
- After the Board receives and reviews the investigation materials, the Board may send a letter to the nurse or ask the nurse to attend a meeting. The purpose of the letter or the meeting is to obtain the nurse's response to the complaint.
- If a meeting is necessary, a Review Panel, comprised of a Board member and staff, will schedule and conduct an in-person conference with the nurse. The Review Panel will be advised by an Assistant Attorney General.
- The Board will inform the nurse of the nurse's rights to due process. The nurse may hire an attorney to represent them in the investigation and resolution phases of the complaint process.
- Sometimes the Review Panel determines there is a lack of evidence that the nurse violated the Nurse Practice Act. The Review Panel may determine there has been a violation of the Nurse Practice Act but the concern has been sufficiently corrected. In these cases, if two Board members agree, the Board will dismiss (close) the complaint with no action on the nurse's license. There is no public record of dismissed complaints.
- The Review Panel may determine that the nurse needs additional education. In that case, the Board and the nurse enter into an Agreement for Corrective Action, which is a public document that explains the additional education the nurse will undergo. This is not a disciplinary action.
- In some cases, the Review Panel determines that the nurse's license should be disciplined. In that case, the Board and the nurse may agree to the disciplinary action. This agreement must be approved by a majority of the Board.
- If the Review Panel and the nurse do not come to an agreement, the Review Panel can start a trial-like process called a contested case hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. The judge will decide whether the nurse has violated the Nurse Practice Act, the Board will decide what disciplinary action to take, if any.
- A disciplinary order is a public document that specifies how the nurse violated the Nurse Practice Act and what the remedy is for the violation. There are a range of disciplinary actions the Board may take including a reprimand, civil penalty, conditions, limitations, suspension or revocation of the license. The forms of disciplinary action the Board may take are listed in Minnesota Statute section 148.262.
- At any time in the complaint investigation or resolution process, you can contact the Board to receive an update on the status of your complaint. The Board will not be able to share specific information about the investigation with you, but it will be able to tell whether your complaint is in the investigative stage or the resolution stage.
- Once a resolution is achieved, you will receive a letter telling you how the Board resolved your complaint.
- Depending on the nature and complexity of the case, the complaint investigation and resolution processes can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months or up to a year to complete. The majority of complaints are resolved in six months or less.
In most cases a nurse may continue to practice while a complaint is being investigated. If the nurse's continued practice poses an imminent risk of harm, the Board may issue an immediate, temporary suspension of the nurse's license.