Ohio Nursing Board imposes Permanent Practice Restrictions

In our practice at Collis, Smiles and Collis, we have the privilege of representing not only Nurses before the Ohio Board of Nursing but also other professionals before their licensure Boards.  This has given us the opportunity to see how various licensure Boards in Ohio handle disciplinary matters.

Each licensure Board in Ohio has its own rules and regulations and has the authority to take any action including but not limited to revocation, suspension, and/or probation of a license.  Under Ohio Revised Code Chapter 119, licensees in Ohio are entitled to an administrative hearing, which allows the licensee to introduce evidence in their defense.

Despite the similar due process that is afforded to most licensees facing a disciplinary action in Ohio, we have seen that many licensure Boards in Ohio (Nursing Board, Medical Board, Psychology Board, Board of Education, Counselor, Social Work and Marriage and Family Therapist Board) impose very different sanctions, despite the relatively similar nature of the offense.

In our experience, we have seen that, generally, licensure Boards in Ohio can be more strict/punitive than licensure Boards in other States in terms of sanctions.

Even within Ohio, based on our experience, the Ohio Board of Nursing imposes permanent practice restrictions on its licensees to a far greater extent than other licensure Boards in Ohio.  Generally, a permanent practice restriction limits a Nurse’s ability to work in the following settings: hospice, home health, as an independent provider for an Ohio agency, as a private duty nurse, as a volunteer, as well as any position involving management of nursing or supervision or evaluation of nursing practice, including but not limited to Director of Nursing, Assistant Director of Nursing, or Nursing Supervisor.  In certain instances, the Ohio Board of Nursing will include language in a Consent Agreement or Order that allows a Nurse to request on a case-by-case basis approval to work in an otherwise restricted position, however, such requests are given close scrutiny and are often denied.

Permanent practice restrictions are often imposed in cases in which a Nurse has been convicted of a crime, found to be addicted to drugs or alcohol, or where a Nurse has practiced below the standard of care.  In certain cases, the Ohio Board of Nursing imposes practice restrictions that prohibit a Nurse from working in any position that would require a Nurse to have oversight or control over financial dealings.

Permanent practice restrictions place a significant hardship on a Nurse’s employment opportunities.  Although we have seen Nurses with permanent practice restrictions on their license obtain employment, permanent practice restrictions create an enormous hurdle to overcome in terms of obtaining meaningful employment because, in our experience, many employers will simply not consider any Nurse who has permanent practice restrictions on their license.

Historically, it has been our experience that the Ohio Board of Nursing imposed permanent practice restrictions on a Nurse in cases where the facts of a case fully justified doing so based on significant practice or impairment issues, or in cases where a Nurse had been repeatedly disciplined.  Presently, however, we are seeing the Ohio Board of Nursing impose permanent practice restrictions on Nurses in greater numbers and on their first disciplinary action.

While there are cases in which permanent practice restrictions are justified to protect the public, obtaining the advice of experienced legal counsel before you sign a Consent Agreement containing permanent practice restrictions or before undertaking to represent yourself at an Administrative Hearing (which could result in a Ohio Nursing Board Order imposing permanent practice restrictions) is recommended.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or the Ohio Nursing Board in general, please feel free to contact one of the attorneys at Collis, Smiles & Collis, LLC at 614-486-3909 or email Beth@collislaw.com

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Permanent Practice Restrictions on Nursing Licenses

For violations of the Nurse Practice Act in Ohio, the Nursing Board can impose a range of sanctions against a nurse which can include (but are not limited to) any of the following sanctions: revocation, suspension, reprimand, temporary or permanent practice restrictions.

Prior to the Board imposing a sanction against a nurse’s license, the Board is required to provide the nurse with a written Notice of the alleged violation and an opportunity to request a hearing.  If the nurse properly and timely requests a hearing, the nurse can attempt to negotiate a Consent Agreement with the Board (similar to a plea bargain in a criminal case) or they are entitled to a hearing where the Board would be required to prove the alleged violation of the Nurse Practice Act.

The sanction that the Board imposes in each case is strictly dependent on the individual facts and circumstances that gave rise to the alleged violation.  However, in most cases, the Board attempts to impose similar sanctions on similar cases.

Many nurses are surprised that in addition to a suspension of a nursing license, in many instances the Board will impose temporary or even permanent practice restrictions on the nurse’s license.  The restrictions generally limit the nurse’s ability to pass narcotics or to work in certain settings such as home care or home hospice, through an agency, as an independent provider, as a volunteer or to contract individually with a patient.  The Board also typically restricts the nurse’s ability to work as a nurse manager, DON, ADON or nursing supervisor.

If the Board places temporary practice restrictions on a nurse’s license, typically the restrictions will be lifted when the period of suspension and probation ends.  However, in certain serious cases, the Board will impose permanent practice restrictions that will permanently bar the nurse from working in certain settings. Occasionally, the Board will include a statement that says that the practice restrictions are permanent “unless otherwise approved by the Board.”  This specific language allows the Board to lift a permanent restriction in certain circumstances and for certain specific positions.

If a nurse has a permanent practice restriction on their license without the “unless otherwise approved” language, the permanent practice restrictions can NEVER be lifted.  This is generally reserved for the most serious violations of the Nurse Practice Act, generally resulting from cases of significant impairment (drug or alcohol abuse) by the nurse.

Nurses are often disappointed that they may complete a period of suspension or probation but still have permanent limitations on their license.  While the Board is one of only a few professional licensing agencies that will impose permanent restrictions on a professional license, it is a routine practice of the Board and is even imposed against a nurse who may have never been disciplined by the Board in the past.

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 or email me at beth@collislaw.com