Ohio Nurses with Narcotic Restrictions: You CANNOT Observe Waste

A nurse who is the subject of a disciplinary action by the Ohio Board of Nursing may, in certain instances, have one or more restrictions placed on their nursing license.  One type of restriction is a narcotics restriction.

Although the language of a narcotic restriction can and does vary depending on the facts and circumstances of each case, the Ohio Board of Nursing’s narcotic restriction typically provides:

“Unless otherwise approved in advance, in writing, by the board or its’ designee, NURSE shall not administer, have access to, or possess (except as prescribed for NURSE’s use by another so authorized by law who has received a complete copy of this Consent Agreement prior to prescribing for NURSE) any narcotics, other controlled substances, or mood-altering drugs in which NURSE is working in a position that requires a nursing license. In addition, NURSE shall not possess or carry any work keys for locked medication carts, cabinets, drawers, or containers. NURSE shall not count narcotics. NURSE shall not call in or order prescription refills for narcotics, other controlled substances, or mood-altering drugs.”

As stated noted above, a nurse with a narcotics restriction may not count narcotics.  Counting narcotics includes, but is not limited to, observing the waste of unused narcotics by another nurse because observing waste is considered part of the counting process.  If you have a narcotics restriction on your license, you may not observe waste and you should ensure that your employer is aware that your narcotic restriction prohibits you from observing waste before you are in a situation where you are asked to witness another nurse wasting.

Narcotic restrictions can be permanent or temporary.  If the narcotic restriction is permanent, the nurse must comply with the narcotic restriction on a permanent basis, unless the narcotic restriction includes the language, “Unless otherwise approved in advance, in writing, by the board or is designee”.  This language permits the nurse to request the Nursing Board’s approval for a specific exception to the permanent narcotic restriction.

If the narcotic restriction is temporary, the nurse must comply with the narcotic restriction during their entire probationary period or, in certain cases, for a shorter period.  If the temporary narcotic restriction includes the language, “Unless otherwise approved in advance, in writing, by the board or its’ designee”, the nurse may request the Nursing Board’s approval for a specific exception to the temporary narcotic restriction.

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

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Nurses who enter into a Consent Agreement with the Ohio Board of Nursing MUST complete all conditions OR negotiate terms to modify to the Agreement.

A Consent Agreement with the Ohio Board of Nursing is a negotiated contract between the nurse and the Board that specifies the terms and conditions under which a nurse on probation may continue to practice as a nurse and/or seek reinstatement of their license, if suspended. By signing the Consent Agreement, the nurse agrees (among other things) to waive their right to a hearing and to comply with the terms in the Consent Agreement.

Failure to comply with the terms of the Consent Agreement can result in the Nursing Board automatically suspending a nurse’s license to practice in Ohio.

Typically, a Consent Agreement which includes a suspension will outline conditions for a nurse to seek reinstatement of their license or, for a Consent Agreement that includes probation, will place conditions on a nurse’s license. Often, nurses are subjected to random drug testing, are required to attend weekly AA/NA meetings, or complete additional continuing education courses. In some cases, a nurse may have a license limitation that does not allow them to work in certain settings or dispense medications.

Actions including, but not limited to, missing a mental health or chemical dependency examination, failure to check in daily for alcohol or drug screens, or failure to submit to a screen when selected are a few examples of a breach of the Consent Agreement.

Even when unemployed as a nurse, the nurse is still required to comply with the Consent Agreement. For Consent Agreements that include a probationary period, the nurse must actually work in a nursing position for the probation period to count down.

Compliance with a Consent Agreement can be time-consuming and costly. Nurses are often unable to afford the random screens or become frustrated with the lengthy probationary period, especially if they are not working as a nurse.

I am often contacted by nurses who want to stop compliance with the terms of their Consent Agreement because they can no longer afford the random screens or are no longer interested in completing all compliance terms.

A Consent Agreement is a negotiated contract between a nurse and the Nursing Board.  The nurse MUST negotiate alternative terms in writing with the Nursing Board. If the nurse simply stops complying with the Consent Agreement, without first negotiating a written amendment or modification to the Consent Agreement, their license will likely be automatically suspended by the Nursing Board for failure to comply with the Consent Agreement.

To seek an amendment or modification to the Consent Agreement, the nurse must be in full compliance with all probationary terms. Even if in full compliance, the Nursing Board may only agree to place the nurse’s license on indefinite suspension. And if the nurse wants to seek reinstatement of their license in the future, the nurse may be required to complete most if not all of the probationary terms again.

In summary, in order to cease having to comply with the terms and conditions of a Consent Agreement, the nurse must re-negotiate the terms of the Consent Agreement with the Nursing Board and must continue to comply with their Consent Agreement until the Nursing Board agrees in writing to the modified Consent Agreement.

All Consent Agreements must be approved by the full Board, which only meets six times a year. The nurse should expect that it could take up to 8 weeks before the Nursing Board will approve a new Consent Agreement or a modification to a Consent Agreement.  The nurse must continue to comply with their existing Consent Agreement until a new Consent Agreement or modification has been approved in writing by the Nursing Board.

Before making the decision on whether to stop complying with the terms of a Consent Agreement with the Board of Nursing, it is recommended to consult with an attorney. Factors such as the nurse’s financial condition and their desire to practice nursing in the future should be considered.

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.

 

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.

 

OHIO LPNs – It is time to renew your license to practice nursing in Ohio!

According to the Ohio Board of Nursing’s website, starting on July 1, 2016, all Ohio LPNs will be able to renew their professional license online.

Important renewal information from the Nursing Board is located at: http://www.nursing.ohio.gov/PDFS/2Renewal_Momentum.pdf

Often, nurses have questions about how to respond to certain questions on the Renewal Application and what information needs to be provided to the Nursing Board in the Renewal Application.

Nurses are required to provide the Nursing Board with truthful and accurate information on their Renewal Applications.  Failure to do so can lead to discipline by the Nursing Board.

Additional Information May Be Required  (from Ohio Board of Nursing website)
• If you are asked to provide court documents or other information that may be required as part of your application, please be prepared to upload the documents electronically through the online system.  This information is usually required of applicants who answer “yes” to one of the additional information questions on the renewal application.  
• No hardcopies of court documents or other information required as part of your application will be accepted. Waiting until a deadline and then realizing you do not have all the information and in the form needed to upload the documents electronically through the online system will prevent you from renewing. 
• Incomplete renewal applications will not be accepted by the system.  If all required documents are not provided electronically, the renewal application is incomplete.

If you have questions concerning how to respond to questions in your Renewal Application, what information you need to include, and/or what Court documents you need to include with your Renewal Application, it is recommended that you obtain experienced legal counsel to help you complete your Renewal Application.

The attorneys at the Collis Law Group offer a 1-2 hour consultation to meet with a nurse, review all relevant Court documents, and assist the nurse prepare any necessary or required  response to a question on a Renewal Application.  In most cases, we offer this consultation for as low as a flat fee of $500.00.  Feel free to contact one of the attorneys at the Collis Law Group at 614-486-3909 to schedule a Renewal Application consultation.

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 by phone at 614-486-3909.  For more information about the Nursing Board, please feel free to visit our website at www.collislaw.com.

Although legal in other states, nurses have been disciplined for testing positive for marijuana in Ohio

Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana in some form.  Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use.  Some states allow residents to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and to even grow up to six plants.  While there have been various marijuana initiatives in Ohio, to-date it is illegal to possess, sell, or cultivate marijuana in Ohio.

Historically, the Ohio Board of Nursing has taken a strong position against marijuana usage.  For example, where a positive test for marijuana in an employment drug screen is reported to the Board, the Board routinely places the nurse on probation for a period of at least one year, which typically includes random drug testing and can include narcotics as well as practice restrictions.

Even if a nurse has traveled outside of Ohio and consumed or smoked marijuana in a State where it is legal, if the nurse returns to Ohio and is reported to the Board for a positive drug screen, the nurse should expect to be subjected to discipline by the Board.

In our practice, we have seen nurses reported to the Board because they failed pre-employment drug tests who were subjected to discipline including at least one year random drug testing.  A nurse does not have to be actively practicing nursing in order be found by the Board to be impaired. By simply testing positive for marijuana, a nurse can be subjected to discipline.  Employers are required by law to report to the Board any suspected violation of the Ohio Nurse Practice Act.

Before you consider using marijuana on your next trip to Colorado or Washington, realize that if you test positive on a drug screen – even weeks later when you return to Ohio – you should anticipate that you will be reported to the Board and subjected to discipline.

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