You have a right to counsel when meeting with a Nursing Board investigator

The role of the Ohio Board of Nursing is to regulate the practice of nursing. This entails issuing professional licenses to nurses and also investigating and imposing discipline on nurses who violate the Ohio Nurse Practice Act.

Often, a nurse first learns that a complaint has been filed against them with the Nursing Board when they are contacted by a Nursing Board investigator. The Nursing Board has “field” investigators who work throughout Ohio and are each assigned to various geographic regions of the State.  Once a complaint has been filed or initialed against a nurse, an investigator is assigned to conduct the investigation. This may include collecting records from the nurse’s employer or from the Court. It may also include contacting the nurse for a personal interview.

Prior to meeting with the Nursing Board investigator, please understand that under Ohio law, (R.C. 9.84) you have the right to be accompanied, represented and advised by an attorney and you are also required to be advised of the right to counsel BEFORE you are interrogated.

Unlike in a criminal proceeding, you will not be assigned legal counsel for your defense. You are required to seek your own legal counsel to assist in your defense before the Nursing Board or any other administrative agency. However, you have a right to have counsel present.

Many nurses have asked me whether they “look guilty” by attending the meeting with legal counsel or if it “appears that they are hiding something” if they take legal counsel with them to the meeting. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Meetings with investigators can be intimidating, overwhelming and threatening. Any information that is obtained by the investigator can and will be used against you before the Nursing Board. In addition, if the investigator believes that the nurse’s conduct violates the law, they can also alert the local sheriff’s department or criminal Prosecutor, and in certain instances, criminal charges can be issued against a nurse.

While I often encourage nurses to fully cooperate in an investigation, including meeting with the investigator, I highly encourage nurses to retain legal counsel to assist them throughout the investigative and disciplinary process. You have a right to counsel under Ohio law and it is in your interest to exercise this right to protect yourself.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or the Ohio Board of Nursing in general, please contact one of the attorneys at the law firm of Collis, Smiles and Collis, LLC at 614-486-3909 or you may email me at

It’s important to have an Experienced Attorney for your Nursing license defense

Nurses often report to us that they are concerned that they will appear to the Nursing Board to be “hiding something” or trying to be uncooperative if they have an attorney represent them before the Ohio Board of Nursing in a disciplinary case or at a Hearing.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Obtaining experienced legal counsel to help a nurse through the Nursing Board’s disciplinary process can be beneficial for the Nurse to understand the process and to assist the Nurse with resolution of their case.

Nurses are often surprised to learn that if they proceed to a Hearing without their own legal counsel, in most cases, they will be the ONLY nurse in the Hearing room.  At the Hearing, the Nursing Board is represented by their own attorney from the Office of the Ohio Attorney General, who is assigned to prosecute the case on behalf of the Nursing Board.  In certain instances, a representative of the Nursing Board, who is also an attorney, will also appear at the Hearing on behalf of the Nursing Board.  The Hearing is conducted in front of a Hearing Examiner, who is also an attorney.  If the Nurse does not have their own legal counsel at the Hearing, the Nurse will be at the unfortunate disadvantage of having to present their case on their own without the benefit of their own independent legal counsel.

In some cases, nurses are offered a Consent Agreement, which is an agreed upon Contract which outlines disciplinary terms in lieu of proceeding to a Hearing. Consent Agreement are drafted and negotiated by the Board’s lawyers. If the Nurse does not have their own legal counsel negotiating the Consent Agreement, the Nurse will be at the unfortunate disadvantage of having to negotiation with the Board’s attorney a binding Contract without the benefit of having their own independent legal counsel to be able to more fully consider whether the Consent Agreement being offered is in their best interest..

Your worked hard for your Nursing license. The Nursing Board has its own lawyers.  Representing yourself at Hearing or in negotiating a Consent Agreement could result in the Nurse taking an action not in their best interest or agreeing to a disciplinary term they did not understand. An nursing license defense attorney with experience in these matters can help the Nurse understand the process and assist the Nurse with resolution of their case.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or about the Ohio Board of Nursing in general, please contact one of the attorneys at Collis, Smiles &Collis, LLC at 614-486-3909 or email me at


Nursing Board discipline .. when to take the deal

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, 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