Ohio Nurses: Failure to Document May Result in Disciplinary Action Against Your Nursing License

The importance of documentation in the nursing field cannot be underestimated.

The Ohio Board of Nursing is authorized to discipline a licensee for (among other things) failure to practice in accordance with acceptable and prevailing standards of safe nursing care.  Failure to document the administration or otherwise account for the disposition of controlled substances that the Nurse removed from the Pyxis, or other place where controlled substances are stored, may also be the basis for the Nursing Board to discipline a nurse.

In certain cases, the Nursing Board will offer the Nurse a Consent Agreement as an alternative to an Administrative Hearing.  A Consent Agreement allows the Nurse to avoid the time, worry, and expense of an Administrative Hearing.  Nurses do not need to sign a Consent Agreement. It is always a good practice to read a proposed Consent Agreement very carefully.  We have seen Consent Agreements that are based on allegations of failure to document the administration or otherwise account for the disposition of controlled substances. In many cases, the Consent Agreement requires  (in some cases, lasting years)  random drug screening, narcotic restrictions, and practice restrictions, even when there was no history of drug use or abuse by the Nurse.

If the nurse does not sign a proposed Consent Agreement, he or she always has the right to go to an Administrative Hearing.  The nurse can present evidence that there is no history of drug use or abuse and that the nurse has an otherwise excellent history of employment.  The Board’s attorney is going to present its evidence that the nurse failed to document the administration or otherwise account for the disposition of controlled substances that were removed.

It is imperative to completely, accurately, and timely document the administration or disposition (waste) of controlled substances or other drugs! The Nursing Board may place a nurse on probation and subject them to multiple probationary terms, even if there is no evidence that they suffer from chemical dependency and even if there is no evidence of diversion.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or the Ohio Board of Nursing, contact one of the attorneys at the Collis Law Group LLC at 614-486-3909 or go to our website at http://www.collislaw.com for more information.

 

 

 

ADVANCED PRACTICE REGISTERED NURSES: New Legislation to take Effect on April 4, 2017

On January 4, 2017, Governor Kasich signed Ohio Substitute House Bill 216 into law.

Effective April 4, 2017, there will be new licensing criteria for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).  A new APRN license will replace the current “Certificate  of  Authority” and “Certificate  to Prescribe”.

The APRN license will also authorize a Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM), a Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP), and a Certified Nurse Specialist (CNS) to prescribe.  In order to obtain the new APRN license, CNPs, CNSs, and CNMs must have either a current Certificate to Prescribe or Certificate to Prescribe Externship, or have completed a 45-hour course in advanced pharmacology within five years of the application date.

Additional information is available from the Ohio Association of Advanced Practice Nurses here: http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.oaapn.org/resource/resmgr/hb_216/HB_216_Signed_Revised_-_Effe.pdf

A FAQ from the Ohio Association of Advanced Practice Nurses is here: https://oaapn.site-ym.com/page/HBFAQ

As always, if you have any questions about this post or the Ohio Board of Nursing, contact one of the attorneys at the Collis Law Group LLC at 614-486-3909 or go to our website at http://www.collislaw.com for more information.

Ohio Nurses and Social Media

Social media is a prevalent and common form of communication in society today.  Although social media offers benefits of faster and broader delivery of information, Ohio nurses should be aware of legal requirements and best practices in connection with the use of social media.

Ohio Administrative Code 4723-4-03(H) and 4723-4-04(H) prohibit all nurses from accessing patient information or disseminating patient information for purposes other than patient care, or for otherwise fulfilling the nurse’s assigned job responsibilities through social media, texting, emailing or any other form of communication.  Ohio Administrative Code 4723-4-06(Q) specifically prohibits nurses from using social media, texting, emailing, or other forms of communication with, or about a patient, for non-health care purposes or for purposes other than fulfilling the nurse’s assigned job responsibilities.

Violation of these rules may result in disciplinary action by the Ohio Board of Nursing.

The Ohio Board of Nursing website (http://nursing.ohio.gov/Practice.htm) has the following from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing:

NCSBN Offers Helpful Resources on Using Social Media

Nurses need to be aware of the potential ramifications of disclosing patient-related information. You are invited to use and share these resources:

-Take A Quiz – https://www.qzzr.com/c/quiz/157691/nursing-and-social-media-quiz-copy

-Watch A Video – https://www.ncsbn.org/347.htm

-Order Free Printed NCSBN Resources – A Nurse’s Guide to the Use of Social Media at https://www.ncsbn.org/3739.htm; Poster: Social Media in Nursing: Understand the Benefits and the Risks at https://www.ncsbn.org/6842.htm; Poster: Common Myths and Misunderstandings of Social Media at https://www.ncsbn.org/6843.htm

Do not indiscriminately use social media, texts, emails, or any other form of communication.  Be mindful of your legal obligations and follow best practices.  Take the quiz, watch the video, and review the guide!  These resources are informative and helpful.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or the Ohio Board of Nursing, contact one of the attorneys at the Collis Law Group LLC at 614-486-3909 or go to our website at http://www.collislaw.com for more information.

Ohio LPNs experience difficulties renewing licenses with new online system

LPNs who are renewing their nursing licenses in Ohio this year are required by the Ohio Board of Nursing to renew online. The Ohio Board of Nursing will no longer accept paper renewal or initial licensure applications. All applications must be submitted online.

However, as WSYX Channel 6 Investigative Reporter Brooks Jarosz discovered, the new online application process has not been without problems. See Jarosz’s report: http://abc6onyourside.com/investigators/technical-problems-persist-for-nurses-license-renewal

In order to start the renewal process, each nurse should have received a letter from the Nursing Board with their Log In ID. If a nurse moved since their last renewal and has not updated their address with the Nursing Board, the nurse may not have received their Log In ID. In Ohio, nurses are required to maintain a current address with the Nursing Board. Nurses can update their address at the Nursing Board’s website. The Nursing Board will not accept emails or a letter advising of a new address.

There are 58,000 licensed LPNs in Ohio. Ohio LPN licenses which have not been renewed timely lapse on November 1, 2016. If you have not timely renewed your Ohio LPN license, you MAY NOT WORK ON AN EXPIRED OR LAPSED LICENSE.

Do not wait until the last minute to attempt to renew your license. After September 15, you will be charged a late fee in connection with your renewal application.

To check on the status of your license, visit the Nursing Board’s online license verification page at: https://elicense.ohio.gov/oh_verifylicense

As always, if you have any questions about this post or the Ohio Board of Nursing, contact one of the attorneys at the Collis Law Group LLC at 614-486-3909 or email me at beth@collislaw.com.

Ohio Nurses: Things To Consider If You Receive a Notice of Opportunity for Hearing from the Ohio Board of Nursing

Last week, I attended the Ohio Board of Nursing’s bi-monthly meeting where the members of the Board issued final sanctions against dozens of Ohio nurses.  At that meeting, the members of the Board also authorized the issuance of over sixty Notices of Opportunity for Hearing to Ohio licensed nurses.  The Notice of Opportunity for Hearing (or Notice of Automatic Suspension or Notice of Immediate Suspension) outlines specific charges against the nurse, which, if proven, can form the basis for the nurse to have their license revoked, suspended, placed on probation or reprimanded.

There are legal timelines that must be followed for a nurse to request a Hearing in order to defend their professional license.  Failure to timely request a Hearing can bar the nurse from presenting ANY defense to the Board.

There is no routine disciplinary matter when it comes to a nurse’s professional license.  Disciplinary sanctions imposed by the Board may affect a nurse’s ability to practice nursing in the short-term and can also impose permanent practice and/or narcotic restrictions.

If you receive a Notice of Opportunity for Hearing (or Notice of Automatic Suspension or Notice of Immediate Suspension), it is highly recommended to obtain experienced legal counsel to assist you before the Board.  When hiring legal counsel, here are a few things to consider:

EXPERIENCE:

  • Does the attorney have experience with the type of matter for which you need representation?
  • Is this type of matter a usual part of the attorney’s practice?
  • Has the attorney handled any cases similar to your particular matter?
  • If it is a matter where a settlement or hearing may be involved, how many of those matters has the attorney handled?
  • In general for this type of matter, what does the attorney consider to be a good result?
  • Can the attorney explain the process to you?

ACCESS:

  • What is the best way to communicate with the lawyer and how will he or she communicate with you?
  • When can you expect to hear from the attorney?
  • Are there other people in the attorney’s office who can assist you should an emergency arise while your attorney is unavailable?
  • How will you know what work the attorney has done or will be doing on your matter?

COMPATIBILITY:

  • Will you be comfortable sharing your information with the attorney?
  • Do you understand the information the attorney is telling you?
  • Are there different approaches to your situation, and if so, how will the attorney decide which to take or recommend to you?

FEES:

  • How does the attorney charge you?  Based on hours worked?  Fixed fee?  Or some other method?
  • Is payment required up front?  If so, how and when is that money applied to your account?
  • Will you receive statements for the work performed?
  • Will you be charged for expenses (ex:  travel, hotel, postage, copy charges)?
  • Does the attorney accept credit card payments?

This is a general guide and is not legal advice.  Of course, there may be other questions or concerns you may want to discuss with a potential attorney based on your individual circumstances or issues.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or about the Ohio Board of Nursing in general, please feel free to contact one of the attorneys at the Collis Law Group LLC at 614-486-3909 or email me at beth@collislaw.com.

 

 

Ohio Nurses Under Probation May Not Be Able To Travel Outside of the United States Without Risking Disciplinary Action

If you are a nurse who is under disciplinary action with the Ohio Board of Nursing that requires you to submit to random drug testing, you may not be able to travel outside of the United States without risking disciplinary action.

Ohio nurses who are under probation with the Nursing Board are required to strictly comply with all terms and conditions imposed in their Consent Agreement or Adjudication Order.  While under probation, some nurses are subjected to:

  • random drug or alcohol screens;
  • AA or NA meetings; and/or
  • counseling with a chemical dependency or mental health professional.

Traditionally, when a nurse is subjected to random drug testing, they are required to notify FirstLab (the Nursing Board’s contracted screening provider) and their  Monitoring Agent at the Nursing Board if the nurse is going to travel so that an alternative screening site can be located for the nurse.  However, this notification alone DOES NOT EXCUSE THE NURSE FROM THE DRUG TESTING REQUIREMENT!

In some cases, nurses have requested to be excused from the random drug testing  requirement while on vacation.  In very limited instances in the past, the Nursing Board has excused nurses from the drug testing requirement.  However, these were extremely limited circumstances and compliance with all other probationary terms including abstinence was nevertheless requiredMore recently, the Board has denied requests to be excused from drug testing while on vacation.

If you are subjected to Nursing Board random screens, it is recommended that you first verify with FirstLab whether there is an approved testing site at your vacation destination (which also has weekend hours) prior to booking your vacation.  If no approved testing site is available, you may request to be released from random drug testing while on vacation. However, based on our recent experience, you should anticipate that the request may be denied.  If the Board denies your request, you may be subjected to discipline if you fail to provide a screen on a day you are selected to do so.

It is our understanding that FirstLab only has testing sites in the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii and that there are no FirstLab locations on cruise ships or outside of the U.S.

Merely notifying your Monitoring Agent of your vacation dates does not excuse or waive any of the requirements of your Consent Agreement or Board Order.  You must comply with all probationary terms while on vacation, unless you have been given specific written approval in advance by the Board.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or about the Ohio Board of Nursing in general, please feel free to contact one of the attorneys at the Collis Law Group LLC at 614-486-3909 or email me at Beth@collislaw.com.

 

 

Ohio Nurses: New way to update your address with the Nursing Board

Moved? Changed your Name? Manage your Nursing License/Certificate Online

As a nurse licensed to practice in Ohio, it is your responsibility to notify the Nursing Board of any changes to your address or your name.

Beginning July 1, 2016, all name and address changes must be performed on-line by accessing the Nursing Board’s new eLicense 3.0 licensure system. (Simply sending an email or letter to the Board with your new address will NOT be sufficient to update your address.)

Listed below are the steps to register as a new user on the Nursing Board’s eLicense 3.0 licensure system. This information was obtained on the Nursing Board’s website under the section “Forms and Applications.”

Failure to notify the Nursing Board of a change in name and/or address could cause an issue for a potential employer performing on-line licensure verification. By not updating your name and/or address, it could hinder the Nursing Board’s ability to provide you with written notification in a timely fashion.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or about the Ohio Board of Nursing in general, please contact one of the attorneys at the Collis Law Group LLC at 614-486-3909 or email us at Beth@collislaw.com.