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 Beth@collislaw.com

Ohio RNs and APNs, time to renew your license!

If you are licensed as a Registered Nurse or Advanced Practice Nurse in the State of Ohio it is time to renew your professional license.

As part of its electronic renewal system, the Ohio Nursing Board assigns each nurse a unique User ID and Password.  You can access this information through the Board’s website at:https://license.ohio.gov/lookup/password.asp

You can save money by renewing your license before July 1, 2015.  Registered nurses who renew before July 1, 2015, must pay Sixty Five Dollars ($65.00).  After July 1, 2015, the cost goes up to One Hundred Fifteen Dollars ($115.00).

Advanced practice nurses (APRN) must renew their RN license and each of their Certificates of Authority (COA).  Before July 1, 2015, the renewal fee is Eighty Five Dollars ($85.00) for each COA.  After July 1, 2015, the renewal fee goes up to One Hundred Thirty Five Dollars ($135.00) for each COA.

APRNs with prescriptive authority must renew their RN license, their COA, and their Certificate to Prescribe (CTP).  The renewal fee for the Certificate to Prescribe (CTP) is Fifty Dollars ($50.00) through August 31, 2015.

APRN’s must provide the name and address of their collaborating physician as part of the renewal process.

Maintaining an Active nursing license is your responsibility. Failure to renew your RN license, COA, and CTP (as applicable to you) by August 31, 2015 will result in your RN license, COA, and/or CTP to automatically lapse.  Practicing under a lapsed license, COA, and/or CTP is a disciplinable offense.

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, LLC at 614-486-3909. You may also look for more information at http://www.collislaw.com.

When should you self report to the Ohio Board of Nursing?

In certain instances, it may be beneficial to self-report to the Nursing Board, even if not required by law.  How and when should this be done?  There are no simple answers.

In Ohio, the Nursing Board can take a disciplinary action against a nurse who has been convicted of a felony, a misdemeanor committed in the practice of nursing and a misdemeanor involving a “crime of moral turpitude”.  Many crimes fit under the definition of a “moral turpitude”, such as assault charges, domestic violence, sexual imposition, child abuse, neglect, just to name a few.

The Nursing Board is also always on the lookout for nurses who are impaired in their ability to practice because they suffer from drug, alcohol or mental health issues.  The Nursing Board is authorized to take a disciplinary action against a nurse who is unable to practice according to acceptable and prevailing standards of safe nursing care without appropriate treatment, monitoring, or supervision.

When you renew your nursing license, you must disclose to the Nursing Board any convictions that you received since your last renewal.  You must also disclose to the Nursing Board if you have been diagnosed with a substance abuse, dependency, or mental health issue which impairs your ability to practice.  However, as you only renew your license every two years, there are instances where you may want to self-report a conviction or diagnosis to the Nursing Board PRIOR to the time you are to renew your license.  However, WHEN to self-report, WHAT information should be reported, and WHAT supporting documents or information you should provide to the Nursing Board all depend on the individual facts and circumstances in your case.

Therefore, before you self-report to the Nursing Board, you should consider seeking experienced legal counsel to assist you to determine WHEN is the best time to self-report and to make sure you provide correct and complete information to the Nursing Board.

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, LLC at 614-486-3909. You may also look for more information at http://www.collislaw.com.
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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 beth@collislaw.com.