South Dakota reinstates license of nurse tied to fake documents

The South Dakota Board of Nursing recently lifted the suspension of a licensed practical nurse who allegedly used fraudulent degree documents in her license application, board records show. 

The board voted to summarily suspend the nurse's license in early October, after receiving "evidence that demonstrates that [the nurse's] initial LPN application for licensure contained fraudulent documents," according to the board's meeting minutes.

On Feb. 8, the board voted to waive the suspension, pending the nurse's completion of an LPN refresher course. 

"The board waives the summary suspension … for the specific purpose of applying for a limited license for the completion of the clinical requirements of the refresher course," the board said.

The nursing board reached its decision after a nearly hourlong closed session. It is not clear what evidence the board received regarding the nurse's license or what board members' rationale was for reinstating it. The board did not respond to Becker's repeated requests for comment.

David Weinstein, a compliance and white collar defense partner on the healthcare team at Jones Walker's Miami law office, said the board's actions may be a "compassionate effort" to fairly assess licenses of nurses who have put in the work and training to become an LPN against those who fraudulently purchased degrees to qualify to take the licensing exam. 

"If this person is qualified — and by qualified, I mean not only has experience hands-on but also has a degree, but it just happened to come from university that also had some other fraud associated with it — that's one thing," Mr. Weinstein said. "But if in fact she's never taken the courses and simply paid money and obtained this degree, then I think that compassion is slightly misplaced." 

The nurse was previously employed by Mandan, N.D.-based DTN Staffing, a firm that provides staffing services to nearly 350 facilities in the Midwest. In a September 2019 Facebook post, the firm congratulated the nurse for receiving her LPN license after working as a certified nursing assistant. A spokesperson for DTN told Becker's that the nurse "was made inactive" on Oct. 10, 2022, just six days after the board suspended her license. She left the company in July 2022.

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