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. http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/149.43
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. http://www.nursing.ohio.gov/Publications.htm
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: https://license.ohio.gov/lookup/default.asp?division=86
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. http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/4723.28 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 Beth@collislaw.com or call me at 614-486-3909.
I had a license, and moved to another state. I applied for reciprocity, to this new state, and had a misd. record- that I didn’t disclose. The endorsement application only asked for felonies and any criminal conduct that I was currently involved in.
I had originally received my license (CNA) some years ago (early 90’s) and had disclosed a misd.(that I had filed for relief from- and was granted) to the training nurse. She said that she would run the application through, and if it came up, we could deal w/ it then. It didn’t come up. I moved to another state, and applied through endorsement. I was approved, and went on working. When I moved to a ‘red’ state, and the final state- in question, I applied for endorsement (the one who’s endorsement app. didn’t ask about misd(s). I was ‘red-flagged’ and it opened up an investigation against me (violation of nurse care act). The new state that I had applied to, contacted my employers (even though they were not health care related jobs), and also contacted the original state- and past employers that I had. The nursing agency I worked for had problems w/ their automated booking system, and as a result, I had a number of ‘no call- no shows’ (as a result of this dysfunctional automated booking system). Because of those ‘no call-no shows’ the facility(s) gave me ‘DNR’s’- do not return status. My company didn’t stand up for me- even though I secured them 3 long term contracts. The nursing board used my DNR’s to show that I was ‘unfit’; but didn’t specify on the investigation report what these ‘DNR’s’ were for. I had a licence in my original, and second state, for 15 years total- w/ out any complaints at all about my license. Until I moved to this final state. I had only applied; I was never licensed in this state- and never worked in a health-care capacity in this state. However, due to this investigation, I was saddled with a ‘violation of the nurse care act’, have it listed on the internet, and was barred from obtaining my license for 5 years. Essentially, my license was denied…so why didn’t they just deny it. They say that the license is a state by state thing- but I had never practiced under my license in the state that initiated this investigation. Do they have the right to do this- contact my employers from other states, and in state- some who weren’t even healthcare companies, post my name all over the internet, and, essentially, destroy my name.
Once you apply for a license in Ohio the Nursing Board can initiate an investigation into your fitness to practice. As part of the investigation, your employers can be contacted. In addition, if the Board takes an action on your application (such as denying the application) this is an official action of a licensure board which is PUBLIC and can be reported on the Board’s online communication.