Ohio Nursing Board Investigations

A person may report to the Ohio Board of Nursing (“Nursing Board”) information the person has that appears to show a violation of a Nursing Board law or rule. The Nursing Board is required to investigate evidence that appears to show a violation of a Nursing Board law or rule.

The Nursing Board employs investigators who are located throughout Ohio. Each complaint received by the Board is assigned to an investigator. The investigator collects and reviews documents and interviews relevant parties.

In most instances, the investigator will also contact the nurse who is the subject of a complaint by phone, email, or correspondence and request the nurse to meet or speak with the investigator to address the concerns in a complaint or to give their “side of the story.”

In Ohio, a nurse’s participation in a Nursing Board investigation is voluntary, however, any information provided to the investigator may be used against the nurse in a Nursing Board disciplinary action.

Further, Ohio Revised Code Section 9.84 provides in part that a person who appears as a witness before any Nursing Board representative in an administrative investigation shall be permitted to be represented and advised by an attorney, and that the person shall be advised of the right to counsel before they are interrogated. We have seen printed on the back of a Nursing Board investigator’s business card the following statement:

“I have been advised by the OBN Agent that (i) I have the right to have an attorney present (per 9.84, ORC) and (ii) my interview is voluntary.”

However, in the stress of meeting with a Nursing Board investigator, a nurse might not take the time to read the card, and, even if they do read the card, they might feel uncomfortable requesting to postpone the meeting after they obtain legal counsel.

It is recommended to request and obtain legal counsel before speaking with or responding in writing to a Nursing Board investigator. Often, nurses are concerned that it will appear that they are hiding something or are uncooperative if they first obtain legal counsel. This is not the case. There are circumstances where it is advisable for a nurse and their legal counsel to meet with a Nursing Board investigator. Legal counsel can assist with protecting your rights, narrowing the issues, and providing guidance concerning the process.

It is also important to note that any information obtained by a Nursing Board investigator can be shared with local law enforcement if information is obtained that appears to show that a nurse has violated a criminal or other law outside of the Nursing Board’s jurisdiction.

As always, if you have a question about this post or 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.

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The Ohio Board of Nursing’s Practice Intervention and Improvement Program

The Ohio Board of Nursing is the state agency that regulates the practice of nursing in Ohio. The mission of the Nursing Board is to protect the public by ensuring that nurses have the skills to provide care to patients. In instances where a nurse has violated the Ohio Nurse Practice Act, the Nursing Board has the authority to take a disciplinary action, such as to suspend or revoke a nurse’s license to practice in Ohio. However, in instances where the Nursing Board has reason to believe that a nurse has a deficiency in their practice that may be corrected, the Board may require the nurse to seek additional education and/or training.

The Nursing Board’s Practice Intervention and Improvement Program (“PIIP”) permits the Nursing Board to offer a nurse an opportunity to seek remedial education and training in a specific area instead of taking disciplinary action against a nurse who has a practice deficiency. The PIIP program is considered non-disciplinary and does not constitute a restriction or limitation on a nurse’s license. Participation in PIIP is confidential.

The criteria the Nursing Board uses to identify an individual’s practice deficiency includes, but is not limited to:

(1) Whether the public will be adequately protected from unsafe practice if the individual enters PIIP;
(2) Whether the individual’s practice deficiency resulted in harm to the patient;
(3) The likelihood that the identified practice deficiency can be corrected through remediation;
(4) The frequency of the occurrence of the practice deficiency;
(5) Whether the individual is eligible for participation in PIIP under 4723-18-03 of the Administrative Code; and
(6) Whether the individual has a mental or physical impairment that contributed to the practice deficiency.

If the supervising member believes, after investigation and review, that the individual’s practice deficiency can be successfully corrected through participation in PIIP, the Nursing Board may choose to take no disciplinary action. This decision is generally reached, if the individual enters into a Participatory Agreement with PIIP, complies with the terms and conditions of PIIP, and successfully completes PIIP.

The PIIP Participatory Agreement includes, but is not limited to, provisions that:

(1) Identify the practice deficiencies and the specific remediation (including educational interventions) the participant must complete;
(2) Require the participant to pay all expenses for the required remediation;
(3) Require the participant to provide the Participatory Agreement to a manager of the participant’s employers;
(4) Require the participant to participate in workplace monitoring;
(5) Require the participant to cause all workplace monitors to provide remediation and to send written progress reports regarding the participant’s progress to PIIP at specified intervals;
(6) Require the participant to submit a written personal progress report containing the information required by PIIP to PIIP at specified intervals; and
(7) Specify the terms and conditions the participant must meet to successfully complete the remediation, including the time frames for successfully completing both the educational intervention and workplace monitoring components of the remediation.

Generally, to comply with PIIP, the nurse will identify a nurse educator who will prepare an individualized course of study for the nurse. The course may include a series of written materials to review or a list of on-line continuing education courses that must be completed. The course of study is almost always tailored to the individual need of the nurse and generally does not require the nurse to return to complete coursework in a nursing school setting or to repeat an entire nursing course. The educator will generally meet individually with the nurse to evaluate their skills to determine if the deficiency in their practice has been remediated. In most instances, the nurse can complete the remedial education in a matter of weeks.

A PIIP participant can be terminated from PIIP for reasons including, but not limited to, the failure to: 1) comply with the Participatory Agreement; 2) progress through or successfully complete the educational intervention in the manner and time frame required; or 3) incorporate learned knowledge and skills into practice.

In addition to avoiding public discipline, a participant who successfully completes PIIP will not be reported to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing disciplinary data bank or the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) unless the Nursing Board imposes disciplinary action against the participant.

As always, if you have a question about this post or 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.