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

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

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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.

Compliance Requirements Heightened Under New Pharmacy Board Rules

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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.

Ohio Nurses with Narcotic Restrictions: You CANNOT Observe Waste

A nurse who is the subject of a disciplinary action by the Ohio Board of Nursing may, in certain instances, have one or more restrictions placed on their nursing license.  One type of restriction is a narcotics restriction.

Although the language of a narcotic restriction can and does vary depending on the facts and circumstances of each case, the Ohio Board of Nursing’s narcotic restriction typically provides:

“Unless otherwise approved in advance, in writing, by the board or its’ designee, NURSE shall not administer, have access to, or possess (except as prescribed for NURSE’s use by another so authorized by law who has received a complete copy of this Consent Agreement prior to prescribing for NURSE) any narcotics, other controlled substances, or mood-altering drugs in which NURSE is working in a position that requires a nursing license. In addition, NURSE shall not possess or carry any work keys for locked medication carts, cabinets, drawers, or containers. NURSE shall not count narcotics. NURSE shall not call in or order prescription refills for narcotics, other controlled substances, or mood-altering drugs.”

As stated noted above, a nurse with a narcotics restriction may not count narcotics.  Counting narcotics includes, but is not limited to, observing the waste of unused narcotics by another nurse because observing waste is considered part of the counting process.  If you have a narcotics restriction on your license, you may not observe waste and you should ensure that your employer is aware that your narcotic restriction prohibits you from observing waste before you are in a situation where you are asked to witness another nurse wasting.

Narcotic restrictions can be permanent or temporary.  If the narcotic restriction is permanent, the nurse must comply with the narcotic restriction on a permanent basis, unless the narcotic restriction includes the language, “Unless otherwise approved in advance, in writing, by the board or is designee”.  This language permits the nurse to request the Nursing Board’s approval for a specific exception to the permanent narcotic restriction.

If the narcotic restriction is temporary, the nurse must comply with the narcotic restriction during their entire probationary period or, in certain cases, for a shorter period.  If the temporary narcotic restriction includes the language, “Unless otherwise approved in advance, in writing, by the board or its’ designee”, the nurse may request the Nursing Board’s approval for a specific exception to the temporary narcotic restriction.

As always, if you have questions about this post or the Ohio Board of Nursing, contact one of the attorneys at Collis Law Group LLC at (614) 486-3909 or contact me at beth@collislaw.com.