Ohio’s Fresh Start Act Creates a Path to Professional Licensure for those with Prior Convictions

Featured

In January 2021, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 263, better known as the Fresh Start Act (the Act), into law. The Act standardizes the professional licensure process in Ohio by removing vague disqualifiers such as “moral turpitude” and “lack of moral character.” Through its restorative justice approach, the Act offers professionals with records of certain prior offenses a path to licensure. Most of the Act’s provisions become effective on Oct. 9, 2021, which is also the deadline for state licensing authorities to submit a new list of disqualifying offenses.

The Act impacts a number of professions, including but not limited to physicians, nurses, dentists, chiropractors, and pharmacists. Under the new law, licensing boards are prohibited from rejecting an individual’s application for initial licensure for any of the following reasons:

-Solely or in part on a conviction of, judicial finding of guilt of, or plea of guilty to an offense;

-A criminal charge that does not result in a conviction, judicial finding of guilt, or plea of guilty;

-A nonspecific qualification, such as “moral turpitude” or lack of “moral character”;

-A disqualifying offense included on the authority’s list of specific offenses the authority must adopt under the Act, if consideration of that offense occurs after the time periods allowed under the Act.

The Act does not apply to license renewals. However, convictions, guilty pleas, or findings of guilt must be considered under the Act before refusing a license renewal.

Ohio licensing authorities are required to establish a list of “disqualifying offenses” by Oct. 9, 2021. The list of disqualifying offenses must be made publicly available on the licensing authority’s website. Licensing authorities may only include offenses that are directly related to the licensed occupation’s duties and responsibilities. When reviewing an application for licensure, the Act allows licensing authorities to use a preponderance of the evidence standard when weighing factors such as the nature and seriousness of the offense, the time passed since the offense was committed, the relationship of the offense to the individual’s ability to perform job duties, mitigating factors such as rehabilitation and treatment, and public safety concerns.

Disqualified applicants must be notified of the specific grounds for being refused licensure, their rights to an administrative hearing, and the earliest date they can reapply. In any administrative hearing reviewing the licensing authority’s decision, the licensing authority bears the burden of proving the disqualifying offense directly relates to the occupation.

Furthermore, the Act restricts the amount of time an offense may be considered as part of the applicant’s submission.

If you have questions about Ohio’s Fresh Start Act or are seeking professional licensure in your state, please contact Todd Collis at (614) 628-6962 or todd.collis@dinsmore.com.

*Ashley Durner is a summer associate at Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP, and is not licensed to practice law. Mr. Collis thanks Ms. Durner for her assistance with the preparation of this article.

The Ohio Board of Nursing Disciplinary Process

Featured

A nurse alleged to have violated the Ohio Board of Nursing’s (“Nursing Board”) laws or rules is subject to discipline by the Nursing Board. Actions for which a nurse can be disciplined can be found here. This article is a general guideline to the Nursing Board’s disciplinary process.

Stage One – Complaint

Any member of the public is permitted to file a Complaint with the Nursing Board. Additionally, under Ohio Revised Code §4723.34(A), an employer of nurses who knows or has reason to believe that a current or former nurse employee engaged in conduct that would be grounds for disciplinary action by the Nursing Board must report to the Nursing Board the name of such current or former employee. The Nursing Board’s Complaint form can be found here. Generally, the Complaint includes the identification of the Complainant, the nurse at issue, and the allegations of the conduct at issue.

Stage Two – Board Investigation

Following the Nursing Board’s receipt of a Complaint, the Complaint is assigned to one of the Nursing Board’s Investigators (also called a Compliance Agent). Typically, the Investigator will speak with and/or obtain documents regarding the allegations in the Complaint from the person who filed the Complaint. In many instances, the Investigator will also contact the nurse at issue either by phone or email and request to speak with the nurse about the allegations in the Complaint or request that the nurse provide a written explanation of the allegations in the Complaint. Generally, a nurse’s participation in the Board’s investigation is voluntary. It is recommended to obtain legal counsel before speaking with or responding in writing to an Investigator, however, after consulting with legal counsel, there are circumstances when it is recommended to cooperate with the Investigator to the extent that it is in the best interest of the nurse to do so.

Stage Three – Notice

Following the investigation, the Nursing Board’s Supervising Member reviews the matter and decides whether to not proceed with disciplinary action against the nurse. A decision not to proceed with disciplinary action can be made because there is not sufficient evidence to prove that a violation of Nursing Board law or rule has occurred or, although there is evidence to prove that a violation of a Nursing Board law or rule occurred, the Nursing Board nevertheless determines that such violation is a “minor violation”. The Nursing Board’s policy concerning minor violations can be found here. If the Supervising Member decides to proceed with disciplinary action, a written Notice of Opportunity for Hearing (or Notice of Suspension) is issued to the nurse in which the nurse is given the opportunity to request and have an Administrative Hearing in connection with the allegations in the Notice.  The time frame (typically 30 days) and manner (typically in writing or email) in which the nurse may request a Hearing is set forth in the Notice.  If the nurse does not request a Hearing either timely or in the manner set forth in the Notice, the nurse will be deemed to have waived their rights to a Hearing and the Nursing Board has authority to impose discipline it deems appropriate without further input from the nurse.

Stage Four – Consent Agreement

In certain cases, the Nursing Board will offer a Consent Agreement to the nurse instead of having the Hearing.  A Consent Agreement is a written agreement between the Nursing Board and the nurse specifying certain admissions by the nurse and detailing the discipline to be imposed upon the nurse.  Consent Agreements have a broad range of discipline including reprimand, probation, and/or suspension, and have disciplinary requirements including but not limited to fines, CEUs, background checks, employer reports, drug screens, dependency and/or psychological evaluations, treatment provider and medication reports, and temporary or permanent practice and/or narcotic restrictions.  It is recommended to obtain legal counsel before signing a Consent Agreement so that the nurse understands their rights, the terms and conditions of the Consent Agreement, and (although no two cases are identical) whether or not the discipline in the Consent Agreement is reasonably similar in scope to similarly situated cases.  At the Consent Agreement stage, there may also be some opportunity negotiate the terms and conditions of the Consent Agreement.

Stage Five – Hearing

If the Nursing Board does not offer a Consent Agreement or if the nurse does not accept a Consent Agreement offered by the Nursing Board, the matter will proceed to the Hearing. At the Hearing, the Nursing Board is represented by an Ohio Assistant Attorney General who presents the Nursing Board’s evidence concerning the allegations in the Notice to a Hearing Examiner. The nurse may either be represented by legal counsel or by themself and may present evidence refuting the allegations in the Notice, as well as evidence of the nurses good nursing practice and character either by their own testimony and/or through character witnesses and other documentary evidence. The Hearing Examiner receives all evidence and prepares for the Nursing Board a written Report and Recommendation which outlines all the evidence received at the Hearing and recommends a discipline.

Stage Six – Board Meeting

The Report and Recommendation is considered by the full Nursing Board at a regularly scheduled Board Meeting. The Nursing Board meets every other month. Typically, the nurse (and counsel, if represented) will present a statement to the Nursing Board in their support. The Nursing Board has the authority to adopt the recommended discipline or it can reject the recommended discipline and order such discipline as it deems appropriate under the circumstances. Although a nurse has the right to appeal the Nursing Board’s decision to the Court of Common Pleas, the Nursing Board’s decision can be overturned by the Court only where the Court determines that the Nursing Board’s decision was not supported by reliable, probative, and substantial evidence and is not in accordance with law (See Ohio Revised Code §119.12(D)).

Conclusion – Know Your Rights

At each stage of the Nursing Board’s disciplinary process, a nurse has legal rights.  It is recommended to obtain legal counsel in Nursing Board disciplinary matters because failure to understand and/or exercise a nurse’s legal rights can result in unintended consequences some of which cannot be reversed. Contact Todd Collis (614) 628-6962 Todd.Collis@Dinsmore.com or Beth Collis (614) 628-6945 Beth.Collis@Dinsmore.com if you have any questions.

The information in this article is general in nature and is not, nor intended to be, legal advice.  You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Extension to Renew Ohio LPN licenses

Featured

Ohio LPN licenses expire on November 1, 2020.  However, the Ohio Coronavirus Omnibus Act, H.B. 197, effective March 27, 2020, authorizes extending Ohio LPN licenses that expire during the declared emergency.

Ohio LPN licenses will remain valid until the earlier of either 90-days after the date the emergency ends or December 1, 2020, unless revoked, suspended, or otherwise subject to discipline or limitations.

The Ohio LPN license renewal window is scheduled to begin on July 1, 2020 and the Ohio Board of Nursing encourages Ohio LPNs to renew their licenses between July 1 and October 31, 2020.  However, if the declared emergency continues, Ohio LPN licenses that are not renewed will not expire/lapse until the expiration date established in accordance with HB 197.

If the period to renew Ohio LPN licenses is extended, the Ohio Board of Nursing will notify LPNs through the website, social media, and email. To receive information from the Ohio Board of Nursing, it is strongly recommended that you ensure that the Ohio Board of Nursing has your most up to date contact information, including your email address.

Renewal is to be completed online using the Ohio eLicense system, a comprehensive professional regulatory license system used by a variety of state licensing boards, the same system used during the last renewal period.

Please note that incomplete applications will not be accepted by the online system.

Additional Documents May Be Required:

If you respond Yes to any of the questions on the renewal application, you may be asked to provide documentation of citizenship, court documents or other information that may be required as part of your renewal application  Be prepared to upload the documents electronically through the online system. The Ohio Board of Nursing will not accept hard copies of supporting documentation.

For information about the LPN renewal process, see:
LPN Renewal 2020 and Ohio Board of Nursing

If you have any questions on how to respond to questions on the renewal application, need to disclose a conviction or other conduct on your application or need assistance to complete the renewal application, you should consider hiring experienced counsel to assist. As always, if you have any questions about this post or about the Ohio Board of Nursing in general, please feel free to contact Beth Collis or Todd Collis.

NCSBN Offering Free Online COVID-19 Courses for Health Care Professionals

Featured

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) is an organization through which state boards of nursing work together on matters of common interest and concern affecting the public health, safety and welfare.

NCSBN is offering free online COVID-19 courses for health care professionals. The courses provide new, established and returning nurses with training and resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nurses and other health care workers are invited to self-enroll through the ICRS Connections Catalog. Enrollment questions should be directed to icrs@ncsbn.org.

For more information, visit their website.

If you have any questions about this post, contact Beth Collis or Todd Collis.

Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist Board Issues Emergency Rule 4757-5-13 Regarding Teletherapy

Featured

On April 6, 2020, the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist Board (“CSWMFT Board”) filed emergency rule 4757-5-13. The rule will remain in effect until August 4, 2020. In its announcement, the CSWMFT indicated that the emergency amendments to the rule expand access to teletherapy services for clients by:

  • clarifying that no training is required prior to providing teletherapy, however, the rule requires that licensees provide services only if they can competently provide such services
  • waives the requirement to hold a face to face meeting in-person or via video prior to rendering services;
  • allows for verbal consent when written consent cannot be obtained; and
  • follows federal guidance regarding HIPAA compliant technology.

In its announcement, the CSWMFT Board also indicated that licensees should consider the following questions if they are going to provide teletherapy:

  1. Do I have the skills and competencies necessary to provide teletherapy? If the answer is no, what do I need to do to develop those skills?
  2. Do I have the right recordkeeping practices in place?
  3. Does my liability insurance allow me to provide teletherapy?
  4. Is my employer supportive of my doing teletherapy?
  5. Are insurers whom I will be billing allowing for teletherapy?
  6. If you are planning to continue to provide services to existing clients, who among your clients might benefit from teletherapy? Who might face challenges?
  7. If you are working with new clients via teletherapy, are you prepared to assess the appropriateness of video or phone therapy with the clients?
  8. How do you ensure equitable opportunities for all clients? Are you prepared to refer out any clients whom you cannot serve because of insurance issues, the presenting problem, or client issues with being served via video or phone?
  9. Do the presenting problems you often treat translate well over teletherapy?

For the full CSWMFT Board Statement, go here.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or about the Ohio Board of Nursing in general, feel free to contact Beth Collis or Todd Collis.

Ohio Nurses: How to comply with a Nursing Board Order or Consent Agreement during the COVID-19 Stay at Home Order

Featured

Many nurses who are currently being monitored by the Ohio Board of Nursing, under the terms of a Consent Agreement or a Board Order, have asked how they can comply with the terms of these Orders, while under the State of Ohio Stay at Home Order in effect until May 1, 2020.

In general, each nurse needs to continue to comply with all terms and conditions of your Board Order or Consent Agreement. If you unable to comply in any way, contact your monitor immediately. While the Nursing Board staff is currently working remotely, the staff has access to emails and they are continuing to respond to questions and requests.

Random Drug testing:

Nurses who have stopped daily call ins to First Source, based upon the Ohio Department of Health Stay at Home Order, need to begin daily calls effective Monday, April 20, 2020.

Random Drug Testing will be scheduled after May 4, 2020. Testing will include hair and blood specimens in addition to urine specimens. These highly sensitive tests will be able to detect if you ingested alcohol, medications or illegal substances in the days or weeks before the test. So, just because you are not submitting to random drug testing does not mean that you can consume alcohol (if prohibited by your Board Agreement or Order) or that you may use medications not prescribed to you or illegal substances.

Any requirement that is not met, such as a missed screen or support group meeting attendance, or a positive screen based on the use of hand sanitizer will be evaluated considering the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Attendance at AA meetings:

You may now “attend” AA meetings online.If you participate in an on-line support group meeting or discussion, please document this on Form #4 and include dates and type of meeting attendance. A co-signor is not necessary.

Here are links for on-line meetings:
(AA)
(CA)
(NA)

If you participate in an on-line meeting or discussion, please document this on form #4 and include the date of the meeting and the type of meeting attended. A co-signor is not necessary. Again, contact your monitor if you choose to “attend” an AA meeting online.

Request to modify the terms of your Consent Agreement:

The Nursing Board has also received multiple requests to remove Board monitoring and restrictions or to modify Board Orders. Board actions will not be held in abeyance or suspended. Board Orders are final and there is no provision to modify a Board Order. The Board will not alter permanent restrictions in Consent Agreements or Orders.

Ohio Department of Health has established an outline for essential healthcare workers, which can be found here.

More info about Covid-19 and Ohio can be found here.


As always, if you have any questions about this post or about the Ohio Board of Nursing in general, feel free to contact Beth Collis or Todd Collis.

Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist Board Responds to Corona Virus

Featured

In connection with the Corona Virus, we have received numerous inquiries from our Ohio counselor and social worker clients concerning teletherapy services.

The Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist Board (“CSWMFT Board”) recently posted the following information on its website:

The Board’s rules regarding providing teletherapy are established in Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 4757-5-13. Licensees who are considering offering services via teletherapy should be mindful of the following:

  • Independent licensees (LISW, LPCC, IMFT), dependent licenses (LSW, LPC, MFT) working under supervision, and trainees (SWT, CT, MFTT) working under supervision, can all provide teletherapy provided they have training and experience in teletherapy. Examples of training include the completion of continuing education, supervised experience, and peer consultation.
  • Services must be provided to ensure the highest level of confidentiality. Video-conferencing software should be HIPAA compliant.
  • Licensees should carefully consider whether teletherapy is an appropriate means of providing services to individual clients.
  • Licensees must be mindful that ORC 4757 and OAC 4757 apply regardless of how services are provided.
  • Licensees who voluntarily choose to suspend providing services must properly terminate with clients and provide referrals as required in the rules. If a licensee is suspending services in response to a public order to do so, the licensee or their employer is advised to provide information, for example on outgoing voicemail messages or websites, regarding resources in the event a client is in crisis.
  • Insurers establish which services are eligible for reimbursement. Be sure to verify whether you can bill for teletherapy before providing services to a client. The Board has no authority to direct insurers to pay for teletherapy services.
  • Agencies and practices may set their own rules regarding teletherapy. The Board can exercise no authority over these employment/business related decisions.

While the Board staff want to be as helpful as possible, we are not able to provide specific guidance regarding implementing teletherapy. Please consult with peers and supervisors. Additionally, Board staff cannot recommend specific software, nor can the Board recommend specific training programs.

  • As the State of Ohio’s response to COVID-19/Corona Virus evolves, the Board will share information with licenses.

PLEASE ALSO NOTE: The CSWMFT Board also recently posted the following update on its website:

Teletherapy Update – Emergency Rule in Progress

The CSWMFT Board is working with Governor Mike DeWine’s office as well as other State agencies on an emergency rule that will provide flexibility for licensees who are seeking to provide teletherapy. We anticipate the proposed rule will be issued soon and will align with the rules being proposed by the Ohio Department of Medicaid and Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Once the rule is issued, we will provide an update and additional guidance.

Below are some additional resources about teletherapy and COIVD-19:

State of Ohio

https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/

https://cswmft.ohio.gov/Home/COVID-19

Counseling

AMHCA Code of Ethics
http://www.nymhca.org/AMHCACodeofEthics.pdf

NBCC
https://www.nbcc.org/Assets/Ethics/NBCCPolicyRegardingPracticeofDistanceCounselingBoard.pdf

ACA
https://www.counseling.org/knowledge-center/mental-health-resources/trauma-disaster/mental-health-professional-counseling-and-emergency-preparedness

ACA
https://www.counseling.org/knowledge-center/mental-health-resources/trauma-disaster/working-with-your-clients?utm_source=informz&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=covidresources

CACREP
https://www.cacrep.org/for-programs/updates-on-covid-19/
 

Social Work

NASW Ohio Chapter
https://www.naswoh.org/page/telehealth2020

NASW
https://www.socialworkers.org/Practice/Infectious-Diseases/Coronavirus

NASW
https://www.socialworkers.org/includes/newIncludes/homepage/PRA-BRO-33617.TechStandards_FINAL_POSTING.pdf

NASW
https://naswassurance.org/malpractice/malpractice-tips/treading-through-teletherapy-treatment-topics/

Marriage and Family Therapy

AAMFT
http://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/Legal_Ethics/Code_of_Ethics.aspx

AAMFT
https://www.aamft.org/Events/Coronavirus-Event-Status-Updates.aspx?WebsiteKey=8e8c9bd6-0b71-4cd1-a5ab-013b5f855b01

Other

CDC- https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

NIMH – https://www.nih.gov/health-information/coronavirus

APA – https://www.apa.org/practice/programs/dmhi/research-information/social-distancing

American Telemedicine Association – http://www.americantelemed.org/resources/telemedicine-practice-guidelines/telemedicine-practice-guidelines#.VS_Go40tGUk

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-05-05/pdf/2011-10875.pdf

Medicaid – https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/benefits/downloads/medicaid-telehealth-services.pdf

HHS – https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/special-topics/emergency-preparedness/notification-enforcement-discretion-telehealth/index.html

Medicare – https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/medicare-telemedicine-health-care-provider-fact-sheet


In consideration of the rapidly-changing situation in which we find ourselves, we recommend and encourage Ohio counselors, social workers, and marriage and family therapist licensees to frequently visit the CSWMFT Board website. As always, if you have questions about this post or the CSWMFT Board, please contact Todd Collis or Beth Collis.

Covid-19 and Compliance with Ohio Board of Nursing Consent Agreements and Orders

Featured

If you are a licensee of the Ohio Board of Nursing who is subject to an Ohio Board of Nursing Consent Agreement or Order, Covid-19 might affect your ability to comply with certain requirements of your Consent Agreement or Order including, but not limited to, submitting to random drug testing (for example, if a test site closes or there are restrictions on travel) or attending AA/12 step meetings (for example, if there are restrictions on travel or group gatherings).

Typically, the Ohio Board of Nursing Consent Agreements and Order require a licensee to report a violation of their Consent Agreement or Order within 30 days of the occurrence of the violation.

First and foremost: Do everything you can to continue to comply with all terms and requirements of your Consent Agreement or Board Order. If you cannot comply with a particular requirement of a Consent Agreement or Order, immediately email your Monitoring Agent as soon as you become aware and provide them all details of why you cannot or did not comply, such as inability to submit a specimen at a designated site for any documented reason or any restrictions on travel and group gatherings. If you have legal counsel, you should also email your legal counsel all pertinent details and a copy of your email to your Monitoring Agent.

Below is an email we received today from Lisa Ferguson-Ramos, Compliance Manager at the Ohio Board of Nursing related to compliance with the terms of the Consent Agreement in light of Covid-19:


Attorneys:

Licensees will be advised that any requirement not met such as a missed screen or support group meeting attendance will be evaluated considering the coronavirus (COVID-19). This includes any restrictions on travel and group gatherings or inability to submit a specimen at a designated site for any documented reason. The agent should be notified by email if a requirement is not met.

Enclosed is a link with an on-line meeting directory:

The message above will be added as an autoreply to monitoring agent emails.

Alternatives to the online meeting link above would be considered. The Board will also consider the inability to comply and will update the message to licensees as information or directives change. Please advise your clients accordingly. I will forward this email to the agents.

Sincerely,

Lisa Ferguson-Ramos
Compliance Manager


Please take all appropriate steps to keep yourself and those around you safe. As always, if you have any questions about this post or about the Ohio Board of Nursing in general, please feel free to contact Beth Collis or Todd Collis.

 

Ohio Board of Pharmacy Issues Important Notice to all Licensees Regarding Extortion Scam

Featured

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy (“Board of Pharmacy”) recently issued a notice to all Board of Pharmacy licensees to be on alert for a scam being perpetrated against Ohio health care providers.

The Board of Pharmacy instructed that these scammers have been communicating with prescribers and pharmacists stating they are under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), and that their DEA registration will be revoked or suspended, or they will be arrested if they do not agree to pay a fine immediately via phone or fax. The DEA is aware of this scam.

Additionally, individuals posing as Board of Pharmacy or State Medical Board agents are contacting health care providers by phone and/or fax in an attempt to fraudulently obtain payment to resolve a disciplinary matter.

If a licensee of the Board of Pharmacy or State Medical Board faces potential disciplinary action against their license, the licensee will receive an official Notice of Opportunity for a Hearing in writing either via USPS Certified Mail or by personal service.

Verify Questionable Contact

If you are unsure whether any individual claiming to be a Board of Pharmacy or State Medical Board agent or inspector is legitimate, ask for their name and contact information and contact the Board of Pharmacy at 614-466-4143, or the State Medical Board at 614-466-3934.

Ohio Nurses Looking for Work? You Need to Network

Featured

New Year, new you? It’s time to find a new job or to return to the workforce.

Often nurses who have been disciplined by the Nursing Board are concerned that they’ve run into a Catch-22. That is, that they’ve fallen in a cycle wherein they cannot be released from probation from the Nursing Board until they have worked as a nurse, but they also claim that they can’t find work as a nurse as they are under probation with the Nursing Board. 

While finding employment as a nurse (or any medical professional for that matter) is more difficult if you have restrictions on your license or if you are on probation, it is NOT impossible. That is, of course, if you know how to approach today’s job market. This blog post aims to highlight the best tips and tricks for nurses who have restricted licenses or who are under probation to (re)enter the job market.

To start: Did you know that 70-80% of the available jobs are never advertised? So, how do you find a job that you don’t even know exists?

The key is networking.

If you’re sitting at home applying to jobs online and finding that you’re not getting interviews, you are doing it all wrong. You need to reach out to friends, family members, neighbors, former co-workers, and even those who you do not know. Your circle of friends and colleagues should know that you are looking for work.

During your job search, you should...

Have a resumé.

  • Outline your education, training, certifications, prior work experience edited and ready to go. Include your current contact information. 
  • Make sure that it does not include any typos or spacing errors! This is important, as your resumé is your first impression to a potential future employer. If your resumé is sloppy, employers will think that your medical documentation/record keeping will be sloppy.  
  • Include all prior employment. Even if you left a job under less than favorable terms, include it on your resumé. You can discuss in an interview that things did not go well there and that they will not give you a positive review, but explain what you learned and how you have changed from the experience.

Update your LinkedIn account.

  • Consider paying for the upgraded “LinkedIn Premium” account that allows you to have access to more job opportunities, job market statistics, and messaging capabilities through the platform. 

Contact everyone.

  • Let friends, family members, and former co-workers know that you’re looking for work and the type of work that you are best suited to do. You never know who is hiring! 

Meet new professionals in your field.

  • Ask for 15 minutes of their time to meet for coffee or at their office. While they may not have a job, they may know of other opportunities. When meeting with one contact, make sure they give you names of at least two others who they can introduce you to.
  • Be bold! Reach out to people in leadership/management positions who you do not even know and ask them to meet with you for 15 minutes. You will be surprised by how many people will meet with you.

Speak to someone in the Human Resources department (if possible).

  • If applying for a job, see if you can talk with someone in HR or management after you submit your application. See if a friend or former colleague would be willing to call HR and put in a good word for you. 

Create a short list (2-3 people) who you can use as references. Have their names/contact information readily available to provide to a potential employer.

Talk with your monitor at the Nursing Board (if you do have a restricted nursing license) to make sure you understand the scope of the restriction and the types of jobs you can take under the restriction. 

  • If you can’t work in home health or hospice or in management, discuss with your monitor the types of jobs you can take on.
  • Under a restricted license, consider applying for jobs in nursing homes, dialysis centers, doctor’s offices, plasma centers, in a cash only practice (concierge practice), in a drug and alcohol treatment center, in a mental health facility or doing chart reviews for insurance companies. All these types of jobs generally accept nurses who are unable to pass narcotics and do not require the nurse to work in a patient’s home.

Prepare a one minute statement that explains what happened and the changes you have made in your file if you have been out of the workforce or have a restricted license.

  • Be honest and accurate but don’t feel like you have to belabor the point. Employers appreciate honesty and transparency.
  • If your license is restricted, the employer will see the restriction online, so you should be upfront and explain in your first interview the status of your license. 

Lastly, even if you have been out of the practice of nursing for a period of time seeking treatment for alcohol abuse or drug addiction, there are still job opportunities available to you. I was recently interviewed for an article entitled “After opioid addiction, recovering nurse struggles to find a job” in the Washington Post. For more information and similar stories, visit the hyperlink above.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or about the Ohio Board of Nursing, please feel free to contact me at or my partner Todd Collis. 

Compliance Requirements Heightened Under New Pharmacy Board Rules

Featured

Beginning Dec. 1, 2019, pharmacists licensed by the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy (“Board”) will have new reporting requirements. The Board enacted similar reporting requirements for pharmacy interns, pharmacy technician trainees, and registered and certified pharmacy technicians. These new reporting requirements add to existing compliance considerations and burdens for licensees, registrants, their employers, and owners and operators of retail and institutional pharmacies.

Under the new rules, a pharmacist licensed by the Board must report the following to the Board:

  1. Conduct indicating another Board licensee or registrant is addicted to or is suspected of abusing alcohol, drugs or other chemical substances, or is impaired physically or mentally such that he or she is unfit to carry out his or her professional duties.
  2. Violations, attempts to violate, or assisting in a violation of the Ohio Pharmacy Practice Act, the Ohio Controlled Substances Act, certain other Ohio laws, or any Board rule adopted under such laws, by an individual or entity licensed or registered by the Board.
  3. Conduct by another Board licensee or registrant of unprofessional conduct or dishonesty.

Reports are to be based on the pharmacist’s direct observation or objective evidence. There are certain limited exceptions to the above required reports.

Additionally, a pharmacist licensed by the Board must self-report to the Board:

  1. A criminal conviction within 10 days following the conviction date, except for minor traffic violations, such as speeding or running a red light.
  2. A conviction, guilty plea, or finding of eligibility for intervention in lieu of conviction in Ohio or the equivalent in another jurisdiction within 10 days after being deemed eligible.
  3. Being granted entry into a diversion or deferral program or the equivalent within 10 days after being granted entry.
  4. Being arrested for a felony within 10 days after the arrest.
  5. Any disciplinary action taken by the DEA or another state within ten days of the notice action.

A pharmacist who reports under the new rules will remain confidential; however, he or she may be required to testify in a disciplinary proceeding as to the report. In the absence of fraud or bad faith, a person who reports or testifies is not liable for damages in a civil action as a result of the report or testimony.

Seek legal counsel if you are unsure

Note that certain terms in the new rules are specifically defined. A fact-based review with legal counsel is recommended, because a failure to report in accordance with the new rules may result in a disciplinary action against a licensee or registrant.

If you have any questions concerning your duty to report to the Board under the new rules, please contact Eric Plinke, Todd Collis, or Courtney White. You may also visit our visit our website.

2019 RN APRN License Renewal

Featured

The renewal window for registered nurse (“RN”) and advanced practice registered nurse (“APRN”) licenses issued by the Ohio Board of Nursing (“Board”) begins Monday, July 1, 2019, and ends on Thursday, October 31, 2019.  Renewal is completed online using the Ohio eLicense system.

Prepare for Renewal Now

  • Update your email address. Beginning in mid-June, the Board will send renewal notifications to your email address on record with the Board.  You will not receive a renewal notice by U.S. mail.  To update your email address, call the Ohio eLicense Service Center at (855) 405-5514.
  • Use an appropriate web browser. The Ohio eLicense website works best if you use Google Chrome as your web browser.  You can also use Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Internet Explorer (Version 11).
  • Expired or forgotten passwords. If you have not used the Ohio eLicense system in the past 12 months, your password has expired.  If your password has expired or you have forgotten your password, visit the Ohio eLicense system website and click the “Forgot Password?” link to reset your password.
  • Additional information may be required. The renewal application includes, but is not limited to, questions concerning criminal, licensure, mental health matters, and alcohol/drugs matters.  All information provided in the renewal application is required to be true and accurate.  Depending on the response given to certain questions in the renewal application, uploading an explanation and Certified copies of certain specific documents may also be required.  If you are required to provide any additional documentation as part of your renewal application, the documents must be uploaded through the online system.  No hard copies of documents will be accepted.

The Renewal Process

  • Renewal Fees. The renewal fee for RNs is $65.00 and the renewal fee for APRNs is $135.00.
  • Must pay by credit or debit. Renewal fees must be paid online at the time of renewal using either a Master Card, VISA, or Discover credit or debit card.
  • Continuing education (“CE”). You must complete your CE requirements by October 31, 2019 to maintain licensure.  You do not have to provide documentation of completed CE, but you do have to attest that you have complied with the CE requirements required by the Board.
  • Renew as soon as possible. Incomplete applications or failure to pay renewal fee will cause your application to be rejected by the Board.  Waiting until a deadline and realizing you do not have all of the information needed to complete the application may prevent you from renewing timely.
  • Late fees. If you do not complete your application and pay the appropriate renewal fee by September 15, 2019, you must pay a late fee.  For those licensees filing late, the total cost for RNs is $115.00 ($65.00 renewal fee plus $50.00 late fee) and the total cost for APRNs is $135.00 ($135.00 renewal fee plus $50.00 late fee).

If you do not file a complete renewal application and/or pay the required fee by October 31, 2019, your license will lapse.  A registered nurse or advanced practice registered nurse in Ohio whose license has lapsed is not authorized to work as a nurse until their nursing license is reinstated by the Board.  It is a disciplinable offense to engage in the practice of nursing on a lapsed nursing license.

In certain cases, the renewal application may be forwarded to the Board’s Compliance Unit for review and a Board investigator may contact the nurse to obtain additional information.  In other cases, a Consent Agreement may be offered to the nurse to resolve a disciplinable offense instead of preceding to an administrative hearing.

If you do not understand a question in your renewal application, or do not know what additional information to upload with your renewal application, it is recommended to obtain experienced legal counsel to assist you before submitting your renewal application, speaking with any Board investigator, or signing a Consent Agreement.

As always, if you have questions about this post or the Ohio Board of Nursing, contact Beth Collis (Beth.Collis@dinsmore.com) at (614) 628-6945 or Todd Collis (Todd.Collis@dinsmore.com) at (614) 628-6962.

Admissions to Board Investigator Can Be Used Against Physician in Criminal Trial

On December 15, 2020, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that a physician’s admissions made to an Ohio Medical Board investigator can be used against the physician in his criminal trial.

In 2017, three patients accused Dr. James Gideon of inappropriate touching during office visits.  Gideon told Bluffton police he did not inappropriately touch any patients. Subsequently, however, an Ohio Medical Board investigator made an unannounced visit to Gideon’s office. Gideon, who was aware of the Ohio Medical Board legal requirement to cooperate with and provide truthful answers to the investigator, admitted to “touching certain areas on the patients and succumbing to temptation”. The investigator provided these admission to Bluffton police.

Gideon was charged with three misdemeanor counts of sexual imposition. At trial, he argued that the statements he made to the investigator should be suppressed based on the Fifth Amendment protection from being forced to incriminate himself.

The trial court did not suppress Gideon’s incriminating statements because it found that Gideon voluntarily made the statements to the investigator. Gideon was found guilty in all three cases and was sentenced to 180 days in jail.

On appeal, the appeals court ruled that the trial court should have suppressed the incriminating statements because his statements were not voluntary.

Upon review, the Ohio Supreme Court reviewed that the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution includes the right to remain silent where a person’s replies might be used against the person in future criminal proceedings.

The Ohio Supreme Court held that, in order to determine that Gideon’s statements were coerced in violation of his Fifth Amendment rights, Gideon had to demonstrate that (i) he subjectively believed that failure to cooperate with the investigator would lead to the loss of his license, and (ii) his belief that he was being threatened was objectionably reasonable by providing some evidence of pressure beyond merely directing him to cooperate in the investigation. The Ohio Supreme Court found that Gideon’s belief that he was being threatened was not objectively reasonable under the facts and circumstances of the investigation. Health care and other professional licensees in Ohio must be aware that information provided to an investigator – whether that is an investigator employed by the Medical Board, Nursing Board, Pharmacy Board, or any other board or agency – can be used against the licensee in a disciplinary action and in a criminal proceeding.  Legal counsel is recommended for any licensee in connection with any Board investigation or disciplinary action.

If you have any questions about this article or the State Medical Board of Ohio, please feel free to contact attorney Beth Collis at (614) 628-6945, or attorney Todd Collis at (614) 628-6962.

Ohio Board of Pharmacy Takes Additional COVID-19 Response Efforts

On March 24, 2020, the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy (“OBP”) took additional COVID-19 response efforts to protect the health and safety of Ohioans during the COVID-19 outbreak. These efforts include, but are not limited to:

  • Authorized expedited licensure of drug distributors; and
  • Authorized sale and shipment of non-reportable dangerous drugs that are in shortage by unlicensed, out-of-state facilities.

The OBP also reminded its licensees that pharmacies and terminal distributors of dangerous drugs are not required to submit a notification to the OBP for any temporary closures or reduction in operating hours. If modifying operating hours, a pharmacy must update signage to reflect the change in store hours.

Read more HERE and HERE.

As a reminder, the OBP also implemented required infection control procedures effective March 19, 2020.

Read more HERE.

If you are seeking guidance concerning obtaining expedited licensure as a drug distributor or have questions concerning OBP requirements during COVID-19, contact Todd Collis.

 

State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy Implements Infection Control Procedures in Face of Corona Virus

Updated 3/19/2020

The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy issued new requirements to implement safeguards to allow pharmacy professionals employed by a terminal distributor to practice pharmacy in a safe and effective manner.

The Ohio Pharmacy Board issued the following (emphasis added):

Section 4729.55 of the Revised Code requires a pharmacy to implement adequate safeguards that allow pharmacy professionals employed by a terminal distributor to practice pharmacy in a safe and effective manner. This includes implementing safeguards to protect pharmacy professionals (pharmacists, interns, technician, and support personnel) and patients during a public health emergency.

To comply with the requirements of section 4729.55 of Revised Code, the Board has determined the following steps shall be implemented by all pharmacies located in Ohio starting no later than 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, 2020 to ensure the practice of pharmacy can be conducted in a safe and effective manner:

  • For pharmacies open to the public, consider developing a process for older adults (60+), pregnant women, and individuals with chronic health conditions to pick up medications without waiting in line (i.e. post signs directing to drive-thru, offer curb-side delivery, mail delivery, senior hours, etc.).
  • Implement infection control procedures, especially for waiting areas, to include the following:
  • Pharmacies with workspaces that currently allow patients to get closer than the minimum recommended distance of 3 feet should post signage or utilize other methods to ensure patients who are waiting are maintained at a safe distance. NOTE: This does not apply to patients who must interact with pharmacy staff (i.e. for purposes of payment, immunizations, etc.) or pharmacies that are not open to the public.
  • Pharmacists and pharmacy interns shall no longer be permitted to administer immunizations or other injections without standard protective measures, which includes gloves and proper hand hygiene (i.e. routinely washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds). Standard protective measures do not include the use of masks or gowns.
  • Pharmacists and pharmacy interns shall not administer any immunizations or other injections to patients displaying or reporting symptoms of respiratory illness, including any of the following:
    • Fever (NOTE: This does not require mandatory temperature checks);
    • Cough; or
    • Shortness of breath.
  • Pharmacy professionals who are older adults, pregnant women, or individuals with chronic health conditions shall not be prohibited from wearing appropriate PPE to operate within a pharmacy.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect counters, credit/debit card devices, waiting areas, and other spaces where public interaction occurs with an EPA-approved disinfectant. Clean at least every hour or after every 10 patients, whichever is more frequent. If cleaning and disinfecting products are in short supply, the Ohio Department of Health has developed the following guidance. Read here.
  • If available, place alcohol-based hand sanitizer next to the checkout window so people can sanitize their hands after using common items, like the pen used to sign for prescriptions or devices used to process credit/debit card transactions. REMINDER: Manual signatures from patients are not required by Board of Pharmacy rule (see Important COVID-19 Reminders section of this guidance document for more information).
  • Provide regular breaks for staff to engage in proper hand hygiene (i.e. routinely washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds).
  • Monitor pharmacy staff for symptoms of respiratory illness, including any of the following:
    • Fever (NOTE: This does not require mandatory temperature checks. However, the Ohio Department of Health recommends pharmacies take staff temperatures once per shift);
    • Cough; or
    • Shortness of breath.

Staff exhibiting or reporting any of these symptoms must be sent home.

Failure to comply with the requirements set forth in this document may result in administrative discipline for the pharmacy and the pharmacy’s responsible person.

As always, if you have any questions concerning this post, contact Todd Collis or Beth Collis.