Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing Profession (6)3 Mar 98


Quick Summary: Anyone who acts in good faith reporting a nurse to the board of nursing cannot be sued or prosecuted for it.

A person licensed as a professional health care provider must report to the board of nursing personal knowledge of any conduct of a licensed professional nurse believed to be grounds for disciplinary action, that is, conduct which appears incompetent, unprofessional, unethical or indicative the nurse is mentally or physically unable to engage safely in the profession of nursing.  UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, MINNESOTA, 1997.


   A home health nurse was fired for alleged double billing of clients, for signing documents as an RN when she was actually an LPN, for absenteeism and for being verbally abusive toward co-workers. The grounds for her termination were reported to the state board, and the nurse sued for defamation.

   The U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota ruled the employer got legal immunity from a civil lawsuit for defamation only if it acted in good faith. The employer did not have absolute immunity as it tried unsuccessfully to claim. The nurse was entitled to her day in court to try to prove her employer had not acted in good faith. Thompson vs. Olsten Kimberly Qualitycare, Inc., 980 F. Supp. 1035 (D. Minn., 1997).