Ohio Nurses: Failure to Document May Result in Disciplinary Action Against Your Nursing License

The importance of documentation in the nursing field cannot be underestimated.

The Ohio Board of Nursing is authorized to discipline a licensee for (among other things) failure to practice in accordance with acceptable and prevailing standards of safe nursing care.  Failure to document the administration or otherwise account for the disposition of controlled substances that the Nurse removed from the Pyxis, or other place where controlled substances are stored, may also be the basis for the Nursing Board to discipline a nurse.

In certain cases, the Nursing Board will offer the Nurse a Consent Agreement as an alternative to an Administrative Hearing.  A Consent Agreement allows the Nurse to avoid the time, worry, and expense of an Administrative Hearing.  Nurses do not need to sign a Consent Agreement. It is always a good practice to read a proposed Consent Agreement very carefully.  We have seen Consent Agreements that are based on allegations of failure to document the administration or otherwise account for the disposition of controlled substances. In many cases, the Consent Agreement requires  (in some cases, lasting years)  random drug screening, narcotic restrictions, and practice restrictions, even when there was no history of drug use or abuse by the Nurse.

If the nurse does not sign a proposed Consent Agreement, he or she always has the right to go to an Administrative Hearing.  The nurse can present evidence that there is no history of drug use or abuse and that the nurse has an otherwise excellent history of employment.  The Board’s attorney is going to present its evidence that the nurse failed to document the administration or otherwise account for the disposition of controlled substances that were removed.

It is imperative to completely, accurately, and timely document the administration or disposition (waste) of controlled substances or other drugs! The Nursing Board may place a nurse on probation and subject them to multiple probationary terms, even if there is no evidence that they suffer from chemical dependency and even if there is no evidence of diversion.

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.




Taking medical “waste” for your own personal use is a felony

The Ohio Board of Nursing may discipline a nurse for a wide range of violations from falsification on an application, practicing outside of the scope of their license or chemical substance impairment that prevents the nurse from providing safe nursing care, just to name a few.  However, few violations are more egregious than taking medication from a patient or documenting giving a patient a medication that was not given.  Even the most impaired nurse knows that they must always give their patients the medications that are prescribed to them.

However, many nurses “rationalize’ that they can take the medication waste that is not prescribed to a patient which is just going to be discarded. This is also faulty thinking. Anytime you take medications from a nursing home, hospital or patient, you are committing a crime and could be charged with a felony.  When medical facilities learn that medications are missing, usually the hospital pharmacist or hospital security are called in to conduct an investigation. Nurses can be asked to provide a urine drug screen and if the nurse tests positive for any prescription medication for which they do not have a valid prescription or an illegal street drug,  the results of the drug test are usually turned over to the local prosecutor and/or the Nursing Board. The police can charge the nurse with a variety of felonies including, theft of drugs, deception to obtain illegal drugs, or illegal processing of drug documents.

Some impaired nurses also use their knowledge on prescribing to call in an illegal prescription to a pharmacy. Pharmacists have been trained to keep an eye out for suspicious activities and will often call the “prescribing” physician to verify the prescription. Then, upon finding any irregularities in the prescription, the police will be called to arrest the nurse when she (or he) arrives at the pharmacy to pick up the medication.

Taking medical waste, documenting that you gave a patient a medication when you actually took it yourself or calling in a prescription to a pharmacy for your own personal use, can all lead to being charged with a felony in Ohio and suspension or revocation of your Ohio nursing license.

If you believe you are impaired, you should seek medical treatment immediately. For nurses who voluntarily seek treatment, you might also be eligible for the Ohio Board of Nursing Alternative Program for Impaired Nurses.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or questions about the Ohio Board of Nursing in general, feel free to email me at Beth@collislaw.com or call me at 614-486-3909.