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T.B. versus Texas Board of Nursing (BON)

Case Study

T.B. versus Texas Board of Nursing (BON)


The Texas Board of Nursing (BON) sought to discipline a firm client, a registered nurse, who was a nurse in a prison unit.


During the early morning hours, a security officer found an inmate hanging from a prison cell ceiling. The firm’s client, who was on duty, was called to the cell. When the nurse arrived, an unresponsive inmate was discovered, who, as it appeared to the nurse, had committed suicide by hanging. After the nurse was able to work the noose free and lower the inmate, a job that was protracted and difficult given that the body was in an advanced state of rigor mortis and was unmistakably rigid and cold to the touch, the nurse assessed a pulse, etc., and called for the assistance of other providers. Upon their arrival, it was pronounced that the inmate was dead. The Board sought to discipline the nurse because it alleged that the nurse had failed to render immediate CPR, including mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, after the assessment. After all, this was an unwitnessed arrest.


The firm argued that under that particular set of facts, the minimum standard of care did not require the initiation of CPR.


Meetings with the Board Staff at the informal stages, including an Informal Settlement Conference, to resolve this matter were unfruitful, as the Board continued to insist on discipline. At these meetings, the Board appeared even more emboldened and flatly stated that all nurses were required to perform CPR in an unwitnessed arrest with no exceptions allowed.


To defend our client, the firm filed a dispositive motion (i.e., summary judgment), arguing that the Board had no legal basis for initiating discipline based on the law and it was going to lose this case before an administrative law judge at the State Office of Administrative Hearings. It was only after a contested case hearing had been set (with dispositions and discovery) at the State Office of Administrative Hearings, and the firm argued against the legal basis for initiating discipline based on the law through the dispositive motion, that the Board dismissed the case without any discipline to the nurse. The case never advanced to a SOAH contested case hearing, and our client was exonerated of all charges.