Extension to Renew Ohio LPN licenses

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Ohio LPN licenses expire on November 1, 2020.  However, the Ohio Coronavirus Omnibus Act, H.B. 197, effective March 27, 2020, authorizes extending Ohio LPN licenses that expire during the declared emergency.

Ohio LPN licenses will remain valid until the earlier of either 90-days after the date the emergency ends or December 1, 2020, unless revoked, suspended, or otherwise subject to discipline or limitations.

The Ohio LPN license renewal window is scheduled to begin on July 1, 2020 and the Ohio Board of Nursing encourages Ohio LPNs to renew their licenses between July 1 and October 31, 2020.  However, if the declared emergency continues, Ohio LPN licenses that are not renewed will not expire/lapse until the expiration date established in accordance with HB 197.

If the period to renew Ohio LPN licenses is extended, the Ohio Board of Nursing will notify LPNs through the website, social media, and email. To receive information from the Ohio Board of Nursing, it is strongly recommended that you ensure that the Ohio Board of Nursing has your most up to date contact information, including your email address.

Renewal is to be completed online using the Ohio eLicense system, a comprehensive professional regulatory license system used by a variety of state licensing boards, the same system used during the last renewal period.

Please note that incomplete applications will not be accepted by the online system.

Additional Documents May Be Required:

If you respond Yes to any of the questions on the renewal application, you may be asked to provide documentation of citizenship, court documents or other information that may be required as part of your renewal application  Be prepared to upload the documents electronically through the online system. The Ohio Board of Nursing will not accept hard copies of supporting documentation.

For information about the LPN renewal process, see:
LPN Renewal 2020 and Ohio Board of Nursing

If you have any questions on how to respond to questions on the renewal application, need to disclose a conviction or other conduct on your application or need assistance to complete the renewal application, you should consider hiring experienced counsel to assist. As always, if you have any questions about this post or about the Ohio Board of Nursing in general, please feel free to contact Beth Collis or Todd Collis.

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 Takes Additional COVID-19 Response Efforts

On March 24, 2020, the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy (“OBP”) took additional COVID-19 response efforts to protect the health and safety of Ohioans during the COVID-19 outbreak. These efforts include, but are not limited to:

  • Authorized expedited licensure of drug distributors; and
  • Authorized sale and shipment of non-reportable dangerous drugs that are in shortage by unlicensed, out-of-state facilities.

The OBP also reminded its licensees that pharmacies and terminal distributors of dangerous drugs are not required to submit a notification to the OBP for any temporary closures or reduction in operating hours. If modifying operating hours, a pharmacy must update signage to reflect the change in store hours.

Read more HERE and HERE.

As a reminder, the OBP also implemented required infection control procedures effective March 19, 2020.

Read more HERE.

If you are seeking guidance concerning obtaining expedited licensure as a drug distributor or have questions concerning OBP requirements during COVID-19, contact Todd Collis.

 

State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy Implements Infection Control Procedures in Face of Corona Virus

Updated 3/19/2020

The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy issued new requirements to implement safeguards to allow pharmacy professionals employed by a terminal distributor to practice pharmacy in a safe and effective manner.

The Ohio Pharmacy Board issued the following (emphasis added):

Section 4729.55 of the Revised Code requires a pharmacy to implement adequate safeguards that allow pharmacy professionals employed by a terminal distributor to practice pharmacy in a safe and effective manner. This includes implementing safeguards to protect pharmacy professionals (pharmacists, interns, technician, and support personnel) and patients during a public health emergency.

To comply with the requirements of section 4729.55 of Revised Code, the Board has determined the following steps shall be implemented by all pharmacies located in Ohio starting no later than 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, 2020 to ensure the practice of pharmacy can be conducted in a safe and effective manner:

  • For pharmacies open to the public, consider developing a process for older adults (60+), pregnant women, and individuals with chronic health conditions to pick up medications without waiting in line (i.e. post signs directing to drive-thru, offer curb-side delivery, mail delivery, senior hours, etc.).
  • Implement infection control procedures, especially for waiting areas, to include the following:
  • Pharmacies with workspaces that currently allow patients to get closer than the minimum recommended distance of 3 feet should post signage or utilize other methods to ensure patients who are waiting are maintained at a safe distance. NOTE: This does not apply to patients who must interact with pharmacy staff (i.e. for purposes of payment, immunizations, etc.) or pharmacies that are not open to the public.
  • Pharmacists and pharmacy interns shall no longer be permitted to administer immunizations or other injections without standard protective measures, which includes gloves and proper hand hygiene (i.e. routinely washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds). Standard protective measures do not include the use of masks or gowns.
  • Pharmacists and pharmacy interns shall not administer any immunizations or other injections to patients displaying or reporting symptoms of respiratory illness, including any of the following:
    • Fever (NOTE: This does not require mandatory temperature checks);
    • Cough; or
    • Shortness of breath.
  • Pharmacy professionals who are older adults, pregnant women, or individuals with chronic health conditions shall not be prohibited from wearing appropriate PPE to operate within a pharmacy.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect counters, credit/debit card devices, waiting areas, and other spaces where public interaction occurs with an EPA-approved disinfectant. Clean at least every hour or after every 10 patients, whichever is more frequent. If cleaning and disinfecting products are in short supply, the Ohio Department of Health has developed the following guidance. Read here.
  • If available, place alcohol-based hand sanitizer next to the checkout window so people can sanitize their hands after using common items, like the pen used to sign for prescriptions or devices used to process credit/debit card transactions. REMINDER: Manual signatures from patients are not required by Board of Pharmacy rule (see Important COVID-19 Reminders section of this guidance document for more information).
  • Provide regular breaks for staff to engage in proper hand hygiene (i.e. routinely washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds).
  • Monitor pharmacy staff for symptoms of respiratory illness, including any of the following:
    • Fever (NOTE: This does not require mandatory temperature checks. However, the Ohio Department of Health recommends pharmacies take staff temperatures once per shift);
    • Cough; or
    • Shortness of breath.

Staff exhibiting or reporting any of these symptoms must be sent home.

Failure to comply with the requirements set forth in this document may result in administrative discipline for the pharmacy and the pharmacy’s responsible person.

As always, if you have any questions concerning this post, contact Todd Collis or Beth 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.

Use of Social Media by Nurses in Ohio

The Ohio Board of Nursing’s (“OBN”) Fall 2018 edition of Momentum Magazine includes an interesting article concerning the use by nurses of social media.  The article addresses the American Nurses Association’s (“ANA”) Principles for Social Networking and the NurseSee: https://www.nursingworld.org/~4af4f2/globalassets/docs/ana/ethics/social-networking.pdf.

Although the ANA Principles provide useful guidance concerning the use by nurses of social media, nurses licensed in Ohio are required to observe the OBN’s laws and rules concerning use of social media which include, but are not limited to, the following:

OAC 4723-4-03(H) and 4723-4-04(H): These are OBN rules which provide in part that registered nurses and practical nurses licensed in Ohio shall not disseminate patient information for purposes other than patient care, or for otherwise fulfilling the nurse’s assigned job responsibilities, through social media, texting, emailing or any other form of communication.

These rules prohibit nurses licensed in Ohio from using social media, texting, emailing or any other form of communication to disseminate patient information for purposes other than patient care, or for otherwise fulfilling the nurse’s assigned job responsibilities.

OAC 4723-4-06(Q): This is an OBN rule which provides that, for purposes of OBN rules OAC 4723-4-06(I), (J), (K), (L), and (M), a nurse shall not use social media, texting, emailing, or other forms of communication with, or about a patient, for non-health care purposes or for purposes other than fulfilling the nurse’s assigned job responsibilities.

This rule prohibits a nurse licensed in Ohio from using social media, texting, emailing, or other forms of communication with, or about a patient, for non-health care purposes or for purposes other than fulfilling the nurse’s assigned job responsibilities, for purposes of the OBN’s requirements that a nurse licensed in Ohio:

-maintain professional boundaries;

-provide patient privacy and courtesy;

-not engage in behavior that causes, may cause, or may reasonably be interpreted as, physical, verbal, mental, or emotional abuse;

-not misappropriate a patient’s property;

-not engage in behavior for, or that may reasonably be interpreted as behavior for, personal gain at a patient’s expense;

-not engage in inappropriate involvement in, or that may reasonably be interpreted as inappropriate involvement in, a patient’s personal relationships or financial matters;

-not engage in sexual conduct with a patient;

-not engage in conduct in the course of practice that may reasonably be interpreted as sexual; and

-not engage in any verbal behavior that is, or may reasonably be interpreted as, seductive or sexually demeaning to a patient.

A nurse licensed in Ohio who is determined by the OBN to have failed to comply with any of these rules based on the improper use of social media, texting, emailing, or any other form of communication is subject to disciplinary action by the OBN.

As noted in the OBN article, “The use of social media carries with it much responsibility.  Please be aware of your responsibilities and professional obligations and how its use may impact you.”

As always, if you have any questions about this post or the Ohio Board of Nursing, contact one of the attorneys at the Collis Law Group LLC at 614-486-3909 or go to our website at http://www.collislaw.com for more information.

Nurses who enter into a Consent Agreement with the Ohio Board of Nursing MUST complete all conditions OR negotiate terms to modify to the Agreement.

A Consent Agreement with the Ohio Board of Nursing is a negotiated contract between the nurse and the Board that specifies the terms and conditions under which a nurse on probation may continue to practice as a nurse and/or seek reinstatement of their license, if suspended. By signing the Consent Agreement, the nurse agrees (among other things) to waive their right to a hearing and to comply with the terms in the Consent Agreement.

Failure to comply with the terms of the Consent Agreement can result in the Nursing Board automatically suspending a nurse’s license to practice in Ohio.

Typically, a Consent Agreement which includes a suspension will outline conditions for a nurse to seek reinstatement of their license or, for a Consent Agreement that includes probation, will place conditions on a nurse’s license. Often, nurses are subjected to random drug testing, are required to attend weekly AA/NA meetings, or complete additional continuing education courses. In some cases, a nurse may have a license limitation that does not allow them to work in certain settings or dispense medications.

Actions including, but not limited to, missing a mental health or chemical dependency examination, failure to check in daily for alcohol or drug screens, or failure to submit to a screen when selected are a few examples of a breach of the Consent Agreement.

Even when unemployed as a nurse, the nurse is still required to comply with the Consent Agreement. For Consent Agreements that include a probationary period, the nurse must actually work in a nursing position for the probation period to count down.

Compliance with a Consent Agreement can be time-consuming and costly. Nurses are often unable to afford the random screens or become frustrated with the lengthy probationary period, especially if they are not working as a nurse.

I am often contacted by nurses who want to stop compliance with the terms of their Consent Agreement because they can no longer afford the random screens or are no longer interested in completing all compliance terms.

A Consent Agreement is a negotiated contract between a nurse and the Nursing Board.  The nurse MUST negotiate alternative terms in writing with the Nursing Board. If the nurse simply stops complying with the Consent Agreement, without first negotiating a written amendment or modification to the Consent Agreement, their license will likely be automatically suspended by the Nursing Board for failure to comply with the Consent Agreement.

To seek an amendment or modification to the Consent Agreement, the nurse must be in full compliance with all probationary terms. Even if in full compliance, the Nursing Board may only agree to place the nurse’s license on indefinite suspension. And if the nurse wants to seek reinstatement of their license in the future, the nurse may be required to complete most if not all of the probationary terms again.

In summary, in order to cease having to comply with the terms and conditions of a Consent Agreement, the nurse must re-negotiate the terms of the Consent Agreement with the Nursing Board and must continue to comply with their Consent Agreement until the Nursing Board agrees in writing to the modified Consent Agreement.

All Consent Agreements must be approved by the full Board, which only meets six times a year. The nurse should expect that it could take up to 8 weeks before the Nursing Board will approve a new Consent Agreement or a modification to a Consent Agreement.  The nurse must continue to comply with their existing Consent Agreement until a new Consent Agreement or modification has been approved in writing by the Nursing Board.

Before making the decision on whether to stop complying with the terms of a Consent Agreement with the Board of Nursing, it is recommended to consult with an attorney. Factors such as the nurse’s financial condition and their desire to practice nursing in the future should be considered.

As always, if you have a question about this post or the Ohio Board of Nursing in general, please feel free to contact one of the attorneys at the Collis Law Group, LLC at 614-486-3909 or email me at beth@collislaw.com.

 

Ohio Licensed Practical Nurses: It Is Time To Renew Your Nursing License

Renewal of Ohio licensed practical nurse (“LPN”) licenses begins on July 1, 2018 and ends on October 31, 2018.  It is recommended to renew as soon as possible.

It is a disciplinable offense to engage in the practice of nursing having failed to renew a nursing license.  An Ohio LPN license which is not renewed will lapse on November 1, 2018.  An Ohio LPN whose nursing license has lapsed is not authorized to work as a nurse until their nursing license is reinstated by the Ohio Board of Nursing.

The renewal fee is $65.00, plus a $3.50 transaction fee.  A late processing fee goes into effect on September 16, 2018.  An Ohio LPN who renews their nursing license on or after September 16, 2018 must pay an additional $50.00.  Fees must be paid online at the time of renewal with a credit or debit card (Master Card, VISA or Discover), or pre-paid card.  The renewal application will not be processed until all required fees are submitted.  All fees are non-refundable.

The renewal application includes, but is not limited to, questions concerning criminal, licensure, mental health matters, and alcohol/drugs matters.  All information provided in the renewal application is required to be true and accurate.  Depending on the response given to certain questions in the renewal application, uploading an explanation and Certified copies of certain specific documents is also required.

In certain cases, the renewal application may be forwarded to the Ohio Board of Nursing Compliance Unit for review and an Ohio Board of Nursing investigator may contact the LPN to obtain additional information.  In other cases, a Consent Agreement may be offered to the LPN to resolve a disciplinable offense instead of preceding to an administrative hearing.

If you do not understand a question in your LPN renewal application, or do not know what additional information to upload with your renewal application, it is recommended to obtain experienced legal counsel to assist you before submitting your LPN renewal application, speaking with an Ohio Board of Nursing investigator, or signing a Consent Agreement.

For additional renewal application information from the Ohio Board of Nursing, see: http://www.nursing.ohio.gov/PDFS/Licensure/Renewal/Renewal_Momentum.pdf.

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.

Ohio Nursing Board Investigations

A person may report to the Ohio Board of Nursing (“Nursing Board”) information the person has that appears to show a violation of a Nursing Board law or rule. The Nursing Board is required to investigate evidence that appears to show a violation of a Nursing Board law or rule.

The Nursing Board employs investigators who are located throughout Ohio. Each complaint received by the Board is assigned to an investigator. The investigator collects and reviews documents and interviews relevant parties.

In most instances, the investigator will also contact the nurse who is the subject of a complaint by phone, email, or correspondence and request the nurse to meet or speak with the investigator to address the concerns in a complaint or to give their “side of the story.”

In Ohio, a nurse’s participation in a Nursing Board investigation is voluntary, however, any information provided to the investigator may be used against the nurse in a Nursing Board disciplinary action.

Further, Ohio Revised Code Section 9.84 provides in part that a person who appears as a witness before any Nursing Board representative in an administrative investigation shall be permitted to be represented and advised by an attorney, and that the person shall be advised of the right to counsel before they are interrogated. We have seen printed on the back of a Nursing Board investigator’s business card the following statement:

“I have been advised by the OBN Agent that (i) I have the right to have an attorney present (per 9.84, ORC) and (ii) my interview is voluntary.”

However, in the stress of meeting with a Nursing Board investigator, a nurse might not take the time to read the card, and, even if they do read the card, they might feel uncomfortable requesting to postpone the meeting after they obtain legal counsel.

It is recommended to request and obtain legal counsel before speaking with or responding in writing to a Nursing Board investigator. Often, nurses are concerned that it will appear that they are hiding something or are uncooperative if they first obtain legal counsel. This is not the case. There are circumstances where it is advisable for a nurse and their legal counsel to meet with a Nursing Board investigator. Legal counsel can assist with protecting your rights, narrowing the issues, and providing guidance concerning the process.

It is also important to note that any information obtained by a Nursing Board investigator can be shared with local law enforcement if information is obtained that appears to show that a nurse has violated a criminal or other law outside of the Nursing Board’s jurisdiction.

As always, if you have a question about this post or the Ohio Board of Nursing in general, please feel free to contact one of the attorneys at the Collis Law Group LLC at 614-486-3909 or email me at beth@collislaw.com.