by Don Eddins, JD
Registered nurses often ask me about the Alabama State Nurses’ Association legal program. Really, it should be classified as two programs.
An ASNA member is entitled to a free one-hour’s consultation per year on any subject that the ASNA attorney – myself – feels qualified to discuss. Probate matters, domestic relations, accidents, job issues – whatever legal issue the nurse wants to discuss. Often just a talk with an attorney on an important matter can lead to resolution and peace of mind.
Alabama Board of Nursing
The second part of the legal program provides that if a nurse receives a letter from the Alabama Board of Nursing (BON) indicating that the nurse’s license is under investigation, the ASNA lawyer will represent the nurse on the matter without charge.The stipulation is that the nurse must be an ASNA member when the act that led to the investigation occurred. It’s sort of like automobile insurance. You can’t wait until the accident occurs and then go purchase insurance to cover it. Frequently, I discuss licensure matters with non-members, but if I represent them, that representation is not free. So sign up before you get that dreaded letter from the BON.
Sitting across the desk from me, nurses have told me that they never thought their license would be on the line in connection with a BON investigation. But the truth is anyone can make a mistake. And often the investigation is not really related to an error or omission by the nurse. I’ve done cases in which a patient’s family did not get the outcome that they desired, so they blamed in on the physician, the medication facility and/or the attending registered nurse.
The Bigger Picture
The legal program is just one of so many ways ASNA advocates for registered nurses in Alabama. ASNA monitors to support or oppose BON rules changes, for instance. ASNA fights for you at the Alabama Legislature. Other nursing groups may be for a certain subset of nursing, but ASNA is for all registered nurses.
The legal program is an important benefit in spectrum of advocacy activities the Association is involved in. ASNA is, after all, the state’s oldest and most influential nursing organization. It is important to note, however, that often nurses think because they receive the Alabama Nurse, they are entitled to ASNA benefits. Those membership advantages are only available to nurses who sign up for membership and pay dues each month (or year).
If you are an ASNA member and need such a consultation, call the ASNA office in Montgomery, my office in Auburn at (334) 821-9981 or, better still, email me. If you are not a member, consider joining today.