The Ohio Board of Nursing’s mission is to “actively safeguard the health of the public through the effective regulation of nursing care.” http://www.nursing.ohio.gov/ The Board is responsible for issuing licenses to nurses, to regulate the education of nurses, and to discipline nurses who have violated the provisions of the Ohio Nurse Practice Act. (R.C. 4723). However, most nurses are surprised to learn that the Nursing Board is not created to “protect” nurses but has been created to “protect the public”.
In its role as an administrative licensing agency, the Board holds immense power. The Board has the power to license, deny a license, suspend or revoke a license. The Board can initiate an investigation, may order a licensee to a psychiatric or chemical dependency evaluation. (R.C. 4723.28(G)). However, the Board is not required to complete investigations in any time frame (no statute of limitations) and the Board is NOT REQUIRED to notify a nurse if and when an investigation has been closed. I often contact the Board after an investigation has been pending for months (or even years) to learn that the investigation has been closed and that the nurse was never notified that it was closed.
There is a check and balance system in place for the Nursing Board. Prior to denying an applicant a nursing license, or taking an action against a nurse (ie. suspending or revoking their license) the nurse is entitled under the U.S., Ohio Constitutions and Ohio State law (R.C. 119) the right to due process of law. This means that prior to denying a license or disciplining a nurse, the Board is required to provide the nurse with notification of the charges and a right to be heard (a hearing). Failure to timely request a hearing may bar the nurse from providing any evidence on their behalf.
An adverse decision of the Board may also be appealed to the local Court of Common Pleas. However, most nurses have neither the money, time nor inclination to appeal an adverse decision of the Board to the Courts. This is an expensive process that can take years to complete. In addition, the Courts are reluctant to reverse a decision of the Board and have shown that it will NOT reverse a sanction of the Board simply if it feels the sanction is too harsh.
A second check on the Nursing Board is the Office of the Ohio Inspector General. The Inspector General’s office is the Watchdog that is responsible for investigating state employees and state agencies. Complaints may be filed with the Inspector General by going to their website at: http://watchdog.ohio.gov/FileaComplaint.aspx
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 Collis, Smiles and Collis at (614) 486-3909.