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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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.

When the Ohio Board of Nursing can automatically suspend a license

The Nurse Practice Act in the State of Ohio (R.C. 4723) sets out certain instances when the Nursing Board can take a disciplinary action against a nurse. In most instances, the Nursing Board will issue a Notice of Opportunity for Hearing to the nurse that addresses the allegations against the nurse, note the Code section that the nurse is alleged to have violated, and offer the nurse an opportunity to request a hearing prior to the Nursing Board issuing any sanction against a nurse.

However, in instances when the Nursing Board believes that allowing the nurse to continue to practice presents danger of “immediate and serious harm to the public,” the Nursing Board can suspend the license prior to offering the nurse a hearing. In previous blog posts, I have noted instances when a nurse has been convicted of a serious crime (aggravated murder, murder, gross sexual imposition, etc.) in which the Nursing Board automatically suspended a license prior to offering the nurse a hearing.

The Nursing Board has automatically suspended a nursing license prior to offering the nurse a hearing though in less seriously instances. For example, if a nurse is under probation with the Nursing Board and subject to terms in an Adjudication Order or Consent Agreement and violates any terms of the Agreement the Nursing Board will automatically suspended their nursing license prior to offering them a hearing. Violations of Consent Agreements (such as testing positive on a random drug test or failing to notify the Nursing Board of their employment) has triggered an automatically suspension.

Once the license has been automatically suspended, the nurse can request a hearing and present evidence in their defense. However, during the hearing process or while negotiating terms of an Amended Consent Agreement, the nurse’s license remains suspended. It is imperative when entering into any Consent Agreement with the Nursing Board that the nurse understands the terms of the Consent Agreement, because failure to comply with the terms, limitations or conditions of the Consent Agreement can result in an automatic suspension of their nursing license.

As always, if you have any questions 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 at 614-486-3909 or email me at beth@collislaw.com.

It’s important to have an Experienced Attorney for your Nursing license defense

Nurses often report to us that they are concerned that they will appear to the Nursing Board to be “hiding something” or trying to be uncooperative if they have an attorney represent them before the Ohio Board of Nursing in a disciplinary case or at a Hearing.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Obtaining experienced legal counsel to help a nurse through the Nursing Board’s disciplinary process can be beneficial for the Nurse to understand the process and to assist the Nurse with resolution of their case.

Nurses are often surprised to learn that if they proceed to a Hearing without their own legal counsel, in most cases, they will be the ONLY nurse in the Hearing room.  At the Hearing, the Nursing Board is represented by their own attorney from the Office of the Ohio Attorney General, who is assigned to prosecute the case on behalf of the Nursing Board.  In certain instances, a representative of the Nursing Board, who is also an attorney, will also appear at the Hearing on behalf of the Nursing Board.  The Hearing is conducted in front of a Hearing Examiner, who is also an attorney.  If the Nurse does not have their own legal counsel at the Hearing, the Nurse will be at the unfortunate disadvantage of having to present their case on their own without the benefit of their own independent legal counsel.

In some cases, nurses are offered a Consent Agreement, which is an agreed upon Contract which outlines disciplinary terms in lieu of proceeding to a Hearing. Consent Agreement are drafted and negotiated by the Board’s lawyers. If the Nurse does not have their own legal counsel negotiating the Consent Agreement, the Nurse will be at the unfortunate disadvantage of having to negotiation with the Board’s attorney a binding Contract without the benefit of having their own independent legal counsel to be able to more fully consider whether the Consent Agreement being offered is in their best interest..

Your worked hard for your Nursing license. The Nursing Board has its own lawyers.  Representing yourself at Hearing or in negotiating a Consent Agreement could result in the Nurse taking an action not in their best interest or agreeing to a disciplinary term they did not understand. An nursing license defense attorney with experience in these matters can help the Nurse understand the process and assist the Nurse with resolution of their case.

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 Collis, Smiles &Collis, LLC at 614-486-3909 or email me at beth@collislaw.com.