Nursing Board disciplinary actions are public and posted on the Board’s website

I am often asked by nurses, if a disciplinary action taken by the Nursing Board against their license will be available to the public. The answer is Yes.  Under the Ohio Public Records law, R.C. 149.43, any official action taken by a governmental agency is a public record.

What does this mean? Prior to the internet, to obtain a public record from a governmental agency a written request for the document was required. You can still do that today.  Now, however, all Nursing Board disciplinary actions are posted on the Nursing Board’s website and are also listed in the back of the quarterly magazine Momentum, that is issued by the Nursing Board and mailed or emailed to every nurse in the state.

To see what is listed about you or another nurse on the Board’s website, interested persons can go to the link on the Nursing Board’s website to obtain information about a particular licensee, enter their name and they will be presented with a summary list of any discipline against that nurse.  A person can click on the “view documents” box (which is in bright yellow) and download the entire disciplinary record (copies of Citation letters, Consent Agreements, Adjudication Orders or any Court appeals documents).  To find information go to:

Now, certainly any information about a medical diagnosis or medical condition that might have formed the basis of a disciplinary action is redacted and not included in the public record?  Sorry, that is not true. The documents are not redacted. All the information, including any medical diagnosis, criminal conviction, boundary violation, the factual and legal basis for the action and the disciplinary action taken against the licensee is all included in the public record on the Nursing Board’s website.

As a follow-up question, I am often asked whether the disciplinary action is taken off the website and out of the public record once the licensee completes any suspension or probation period? Unfortunately, no. Once a disciplinary action is taken, it is on the professionals’ “permanent record” and will not be sealed, removed or redacted.

The argument given for including all disciplinary actions of the Nursing Board in the public record is that consumers should be able to know if their medical professional has been the subject of discipline by the Nursing Board.

However, only proposed disciplinary actions and final actions (be it a Consent Agreement or Adjudication Order) are made public. Complaints submitted to the Nursing  Board and any Board investigations are confidential. Under the Nurse Practice Act, R.C. 4723.28 (I)(1) investigations of the Nursing Board are confidential and are not open for public disclosure.  However, this restriction  also pertains to the licensee and their legal counsel. When a complaint is filed with the Nursing Board, the licensee may be notified of the general nature of the complaint, but they will not be provided with a copy of the complaint or even given the name of the person who filed the complaint.  This rule however does not prevent the Nursing Board from sharing any part of their investigation with other governmental agencies, such as a police department or another Board.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or would like me to address a particular question, feel free to email me at or call me at 614-486-3909.

Alternative Program for Chemically Dependent Nurses

In Ohio, nurses who suffer from drug or alcohol addiction or abuse should immediately seek treatment at an authorized chemical dependency treatment facility.  However, nurses are often concerned about voluntarily seeking treatment because they do not know what effect, if any, treatment will have on their nursing license.

Fortunately, for Ohio nurses, the Ohio Board of Nursing has established the Alternative Program for Chemically Dependent Nurses.  This is a confidential program that allows eligible nurses to enter into a monitoring contract with the Nursing Board. Under the contract, the nurse is required to complete the recommendations of a treatment program, completely abstain from drugs and alcohol and submit to random drug screens generally for a period of five years.     A full outline of the program can be found at:

Not all impaired nurses are eligible for the program. To be eligible, a nurse must hold a valid Ohio nursing license, submit an application for enrollment in the Board’s confidential program, submit to a chemical dependency assessment, and then follow all treatment recommendations. Eligible nurses may be required to place their nursing license on inactive status for six months at the beginning of treatment and they will be required to submit to random drug screens and attend weekly AA or NA meetings for five years.  This may seem like a long period of time to submit to monitoring, a chemically impaired nurse, is permitted to return to the practice of nursing while participating in the confidential program after six months of clean screens.

What can make a nurse ineligible for the program?  Nurses who are prescribed controlled substances by their physicians; who have a dual diagnosis with another medical or psychiatric condition; or who have completed drug and alcohol treatment two or more times in the past, may not be eligible for this program.

The Alternative Program is confidential. If you are accepted, your participation will not be considered “discipline” by the Nursing Board. There will be no notation on the Board’s website that you are participating in the program and you will not be listed in the Nursing Board’s Momentum publication as a participant in this program. In addition, if you successfully complete the program, you will not be reported to the National Practitioner’s Data Bank .

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to email me at or call me at 614-486-3909.

What to Consider When Hiring an Attorney

When facing a disciplinary action before your state licensing board or when looking for assistance in applying for a license, it is important to find the right attorney to help you through this often cumbersome process. To make an informed decision, you should set an appointment and meet with the attorney in person to gauge the following:

Experience/Expertise: Experience in representing nurses before the Ohio Board of Nursing is a very important factor to consider. It is your professional license that is at stake. While you may have a good friend who is an attorney or a good professional relationship with a criminal defense counsel, often they do not have the experience or expertise to handle your defense before the Ohio Board of Nursing. In addition, many attorneys will claim to represent licensees before your licensing board. However, you should ask them what percentage of their practice is in the area of licensure defense. You also want to determine how many cases they have taken through the hearing process and on appeal. You don’t want your case to be the first case they have taken to a board hearing.

Personality/Compatibility/Accessibility: Meet and interview the attorney before you decide to hire them. Do they seem knowledgeable about the investigative or disciplinary process? Did they take the time to meet with you, answer your questions and explain the disciplinary process to you? Do you think the attorney understands your individual circumstances? Do you feel welcome to pick up the phone or to email the attorney with questions and concerns?

Costs/Accounting of fees: You should have a frank discussion with your attorney and make sure you understand their fees and how the fees are to be paid. Does the firm take credit cards? Do they charge late fees or interest on late balances? Does the firm send you a monthly statement that outlines the time spent on your case that month and any fees/expenses charged to you? If you deposit money in the firm’s IOLTA trust account are you sent a monthly accounting of your money on retainer? Before entering into any relationship with an attorney you should have a clear understanding of their fees and should receive a regular accounting of any fees or expenses for which you will be charged.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at:

Ohio Board of Nursing complaints – what can happen?

The Nursing Board receives hundreds of complaints each year.  The Board is required to conduct some investigation on all complaints. Some investigations are closed with no disciplinary action taken against the nurse. However, in many cases the investigation can lead to criminal charges or to a suspension of a nurse’s RN or LPN license.  It is important to be proactive to have the investigation closed.  If the Nursing Board closes its investigation, no public record is created.

The process:

You may be contacted by a Nursing Board investigator at your home or place of employment. You do not have to speak with the investigator immediately. It is important to have legal counsel present whenever speaking with a Board investigator.   At the completion of the investigation, if the Board finds no violation or that there is a minor violation of their laws and rules, often they close the investigation.

What if the Nursing Board finds a substantial violation?

If the Board does not close its investigation, in many cases the Board will offer the nurse a Consent Agreement that will implement some discipline such as a Reprimand, Suspension or Probation of their nursing license. Or, the Board may offer the nurse a right to a hearing.  However, all discipline issued by the Nursing Board will be placed on the Nursing Board website and will become a part of your permanent professional record.

So, before rushing off to speak with or provide a statement to the Nursing Board or criminal investigator, it is important to seek experienced legal counsel to assist you as any information provided to the investigator can and will be used against you by your licensing board.