Each year, hundreds of nurses face a possible disciplinary action by the Ohio Board of Nursing. Sanctions can include a reprimand, probation, suspension, license limitations, and even license revocation. In many cases, the nurse is offered a Consent Agreement, which is similar to a plea bargain in a criminal case, in which the nurse can agree to the terms of discipline. I am often asked by my clients, “Should I accept the Consent Agreement or should I reject the offer and proceed to a Hearing?”
It is important to first note that whether the nurse enters into a Consent Agreement or proceeds to a Hearing, the Board will issue a final Order against the nurse and that the Order and the sanction imposed against the nurse is a public record which will be on the Board’s website, reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank and www.nursys.com, and published in the Nursing Board’s quarterly magazine, Momentum.
There are pros and cons to accepting a negotiated Consent Agreement. By entering into a Consent Agreement, the nurse often has the ability to negotiate what factual information concerning the disciplinary action will be included in the Consent Agreement. Because a disciplinary action is open and available to the public, being able to negotiate the wording of the Consent Agreement is important. Additionally, the nurse can often negotiate WHEN the sanction will take place or when they will start the conditions for reinstatement of their license (if their license is suspended). Also, the nurse avoids the stress, expense, and uncertainty of a Hearing. If a nurse proceeds to a Hearing, nurse has no ability to negotiate the factual summary that is included in the Order or negotiate the sanction to be imposed. The Board has the sole discretion to issue any sanction as noted above.
However, there can be drawbacks to accepting a Consent Agreement. Consent Agreements are negotiated by only one Board member. In negotiating a Consent Agreement, the nurse waives their right to a Hearing and often regrets not having their “day in court” to tell their “side of the story.”
In determining whether to negotiate a Consent Agreement or proceed to a Hearing, the nurse should consider all options and potential outcomes. These options and potential outcomes, as well as the nurse’s final decision, should be carefully considered, taking into account how the Board has handled similar cases in the past. Whether through a Consent Agreement or a Hearing, the sanction that is imposed in each case depends on the individual facts and circumstances of the matter.
As always, if you have any questions related to this post or the Ohio Board of Nursing in general, please feel free to contact one of the attorneys at Collis, Smiles in Collis, LLC at 614-386-3909 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org