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

Case Study

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


The Texas Board of Nursing (BON) sought to discipline a firm client, a registered nurse, for failing to maintain professional boundaries. The Board alleged that a patient, following surgery and while recovering and cared for by the nurse in recovery, was holding the patient’s hands and stroking the patient’s hair. The  Board did not believe that the nurse was providing comfort to the patient.


This case was tried before an administrative law judge at the State Office of Administrative Hearings.


The firm argued that the Staff had failed to meet its burden of proof and had not demonstrated that the alleged conduct fell within the defined “unprofessional conduct,” given that nurses, often, and as part of the care they render, provide comfort to patients that included such acts such as holding their hand and, whereby necessary, stroking their hair.


Incredibly, the Board Staff, during its investigation, failed to ferret out the fact that its star witness, another nurse and colleague of the client who had witnessed this conduct, had done nothing when this other nurse personally witnessed this conduct (although there was a duty to act in the face of the claimed conduct) and even, inexplicably, allowed and authorized the client to return to care for the patient subsequently.


The Board’s star witness was not credible before the administrative law judge, and the loss of credibility was crippling and damaging to the Board’s case. Furthermore, the inconsistencies that marred this case based on the highlighting of these deficiencies during trial caused the administrative law judge to return a proposal for a decision in favor of the firm’s client. The Board, following the contested case hearing, dismissed the case without any discipline to the nurse.