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 www.nursys.com, 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 beth@collislaw.com

It’s That Time Again (RN licensure renewal)

Has it really been two years already? Yes! It is time to renew your RN and APRN licenses!

If you renew before July 1st, the renewal fee is $65.00. If you renew between, July 1st-August 31st, the renewal fee is $115.00. After August 31st, your license is deemed lapsed and you must request, complete, and submit a Reinstatement Application from the Board.

Many RNs who submit their renewal application before the final deadline are concerned that their license will not be renewed before August 31st and that they will not be able to work. This is not the case. As long as you renew your license prior to August 31 the Nursing Board will renew your license and will not allow your license to lapse.

Many Nurses are also concerned that their license will not be renewed by the Board in a timely manner if they answer “Yes” to any of the compliance questions on the renewal application. However, a “Yes” response to any of the questions on the renewal application will not prevent the Nursing Board from timely renewing your nursing license. It is imperative that you answer all renewal questions honestly and accurately. Providing the Board with false information my lead to the Board taking a disciplinary action against you.

However, all renewal applications that include YES responses to questions related to your conduct since the last renewal (such as convictions, DUI, etc) will result on your license being sent to the Compliance Unit of the Nursing Board for further review and investigation. Then, even if your license is renewed, this does not mean that the Nursing Board has closed the investigation.

If the Board chooses to open an investigation based on any of your affirmative responses on the renewal application, you may be notified by a Board investigator by phone or mail to provide further information or documentation to the Board.

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

Nurses, if you drink this holiday weekend … take a cab home.

At the start of this holiday weekend, I wanted to reach out to Ohio medical professionals and remind them that their behavior is of concern to the Ohio Board of Nursing whether at work or at home. If you venture out this weekend to an end of summer holiday party and knock back a few beers or a couple of jello shots, take a cab home.

Each year, dozens (if not hundreds) of nurses receive alcohol related traffic violations. DUIs, OVIs, reckless operation charges, and any alcohol related misdemeanor may lead to discipline taken by the Ohio Board of Nursing against your nursing license. You don’t have to be “drunk at work” or fail a breathalyzer test on the way to work for the Nursing Board to be concerned about your ability to practice safely as a nurse in Ohio. Alcohol related traffic violations can lead to your nursing license being placed on probation and may subject you to random drug screens and Nursing Board monitoring for lengthy periods of time. The severity of the charges may also lead to suspension of your Nursing license.

I have written about this issue in the past. See my June 11 post about the requirement to disclose alcohol related convictions on your renewal application; my May 25 post about not being able to consume alcohol in ANY form if you are being monitored by the Board, and my April 30 post featuring the top three reasons the Nursing Board takes disciplinary action against a nurse (alcohol and drug usage being one of the top three reasons for Board discipline).

If you are going to “party” this weekend, be smart about it. Don’t get behind the wheel of the car if you have been drinking. Don’t risk your professional license.Take a cab home.

If you have any questions about this post or the Ohio Board of Nursing in general, please feel free to contact me at (614) 486-3909 or email me at beth@collislaw.com.

How to request a hearing with the Ohio Board of Nursing

On November 20-22, 2013, the Ohio Board of Nursing met for its bi-monthly meeting. At that meeting, the Board voted to issue Notices of Opportunity for Hearing to over 80 nurses in Ohio.  The Notices either proposed to take a disciplinary action against a nurse for an alleged violation or Automatically or Immediately suspended certain nurses’  licenses based on an alleged violation of the Board’s laws and rules.  If you received a Notice of Opportunity for Hearing or a Notice of Suspension  from the Nursing Board, there are important deadlines, which if missed, can have significant consequences.

First, whether the allegations in the Notice are true or not, in order to preserve your right to a hearing, you must request a hearing in writing. The Notice contains instructions on how to request a hearing. It is imperative that you request a hearing in writing within 30 days of the mailing of the Notice to you (not from the date you receive the Notice)  If you do not request a hearing in writing within such period you will be prevented from providing any information or evidence on your behalf.   In the request for the hearing, you simply need to state “I am writing to request a hearing.”  It is also a good idea to follow-up with the Board via phone to ensure that they received your request for a hearing within the required time frame.

Then, you should consider hiring experienced legal counsel to defend you before the Board. The Nursing Board is represented by the Office of the Ohio Attorney General and also employs several in-house enforcement attorneys. In addition, all hearings are held before attorney hearing examiners. So, if you choose to represent yourself at a hearing, you may be the only non-attorney who participates in the hearing process. It’s your professional license at stake. It is important to find experienced counsel to assist in your defense.  Check out earlier posts where I provide guidance on how to hire experienced legal counsel to assist you.

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

 

Hello Ohio Nurses!

Hi, in my practice as an attorney I exclusively represent professionals before their state licensing boards in Ohio.  As a former Ohio Assistant Attorney General, I am familiar with the disciplinary process of Boards such as the State Medical Board of Ohio, Ohio Board of Nursing, Ohio Board of Pharmacy, Ohio Chiropractic Board and many, many more licensing agencies.

I regularly help applicants apply for a professional license in Ohio or wade through the disciplinary process. I have started this blog to answer many of the common questions that I receive in my practice on a weekly basis from nurses throughout Ohio. Such as, “should I apply for a license in Ohio if I have a criminal conviction on my record?” “what will happen with my professional license if I get a DUI?” “what should I do if contacted by a board or criminal investigator?”. I hope over  the next few months to answer many of your questions.