By JOHN BRACKIN
(CN) – A group of nurse practitioners in Alabama sued a state board claiming their nursing licenses were improperly revoked due to conflicting language in the state law governing their certification.
The 11 plaintiff nurses were each “disciplined for illegal practice by the Alabama Board of Nursing.”
They sued the board in Montgomery County on Nov. 30, seeking declaratory relief regarding the state’s usage of the term “lapse.”
According to the complaint, the term is used differently within two sections of the state code, resulting in contradictory licensing criteria and a violation of the nurses’ due process rights.
Under Alabama law, nurse practitioners are required to renew their licenses every two years.
One of the criteria for renewal is that they “maintain national certification from an ABN- approved national certifying agency,” a certification which is itself renewable every five years.
The nurses complain that one section of the Alabama statute says that “failure to notify the Board of recertification will result in a ‘lapse’ of license status,” but a second section says that the term is “defined as failure to renew one’s nurse practitioner’s license.”
The plaintiffs say they fulfilled the requirements necessary to renew their licenses, though the ABN was not provided with notification of their national certifications.
“The Plaintiffs’ licenses could not have lapsed because they met the requirements of renewal,” the complaint states. “At best, the failure to notify the ABN of current national certification is effectively a suspension of one’s license and not a lapse of one’s license.”
The nurse practitioners claim that, at minimum, they should have been given an opportunity to be heard on the matter by the ABN.
They are asking the court to declare that the state’s usage of the term “lapse,” as used in one section of the code and as applied to the plaintiffs, is inappropriate.
They are also seeking injunctive relief preventing the ABN “from disciplining any nurse practitioner for illegal practice based upon the nurse practitioner’s failure to notify the ABN of the nurse practitioner’s national certification without adequate notice and a meaningful opportunity to be heard.”
The plaintiffs are represented by Montgomery attorneys David Belser and Autumn Caudell.