A career as an agency nurse can be both rewarding and exhausting. Being an agency nurse is a physically and emotionally challenging job. As an agency nurse, you likely put in more hours of travel time and get fewer benefits than the staff nurses you work with. But even though the job is difficult, you always put the needs of your patients above all.
Finding out that disciplinary action is being taken against you and your agency nursing license when you dedicate yourself to helping others daily can be devastating. You may feel many emotions, scared, angry, or confused, all of which are completely normal. Having a disciplinary action brought against you is overwhelming, but the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team can help. Our Team will guide you through every step of the disciplinary action process, talking you through each individual step, explaining what the charges mean, and building a solid defense of your agency nursing license.
The Lento Law Firm understands the hard work, time, and commitment you put in to become an agency nurse. We appreciate everything you do on a daily basis for each and every one of the patients in your care. Our Professional License Defense Team is well-versed in defending agency nursing licenses throughout the state of Ohio, and we want to help you keep your license. To learn more about how we can vigorously defend your agency nursing license, call us at 888-535-3686 or contact us online today.
Ohio Agency Nurse Regulatory Body
The Ohio Board of Nursing (Board of Nursing) is the government entity that regulates licensed practical nurses (LPNs), registered nurses (RNs,) advanced practice registered nurses, dialysis technicians, medication aides, and community health workers. The Board of Nursing regulates over 300,000 nursing licenses and certificates throughout the state. Of course, agency nurses of any of the above nurse types are included under the purview of the Board of Nursing.
The Board of Nursing's top priorities are to "efficiently license the nursing workforce and remove unsafe practitioners from practice promptly to protect Ohio patients." According to the Board of Nursing, they achieve this goal through the following:
- Education: Approve pre-licensure programs to ensure programs maintain academic and clinical standards.
- Practice: Maintain alignment with the Nurse Practice Act.
- Licensure: Ensure licensees and certificate holders meet the requirements to become licensed or certified to practice in Ohio.
- Compliance: Efficiently handle complaints, investigations, and adjudications to safeguard the health of the public.
Ohio law requires the Board of Nursing to investigate any evidence that appears to show that a person has violated any provision of Ohio laws or regulations related to the practice of nursing. The Board of Nursing maintains a frequently updated public online database containing the names of all nurses who had the Board of Nursing take disciplinary action against them.
Ohio Agency Nurse Laws and Rules
Many rules and guidelines are in place to ensure the safe practice of nursing in Ohio. The two most relevant for you in the disciplinary process are as follows:
Ohio Nursing Practice Act
The Ohio Nursing Practice Act sets guidelines for the practice of nursing in the state of Ohio. The Nursing Practice Act puts forth the professional, ethical, and legal standards of care nurses must abide by in their nursing practice.
Nursing Licensure Compact
The Nursing Licensure Compact program allows nurses to practice nursing outside their home state without needing to obtain licensure in each state. Ohio is one of the many states that participate in the Nursing Licensure Compact, meaning that you can use your Ohio agency nursing license to practice in any state that is part of the Nursing Licensure Compact. The ability to practice in these other participating states is called a multistate licensure privilege.
Facing disciplinary action while practicing under the Nursing Licensure Compact can have widespread consequences. When dealing with disciplinary action outside of your home state of Ohio, you may end up with disciplinary actions in both jurisdictions. For example, if you are working with your Ohio agency nursing license across the border in Pennsylvania and disciplinary action is being taken against you by the Pennsylvania Board of Nursing. In that case, the Ohio Board of Nursing can also pursue disciplinary action against you here in Ohio.
Ohio Agency Nursing License Disciplinary Charges
All allegations against you and your agency nursing license are a serious threat. But it's important to remember that an allegation is just that. When the Board of Nursing contacts you about the disciplinary action against you, understand that you have not been found guilty of anything at that time. In order to take negative action against your license, the Board of Nursing will need proof that the allegations against you are true through a long and rigorous process. Your Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team attorney will explain the allegations against you and the possible outcomes and formulate a plan to best protect your agency nursing license. We will do everything in our power to reduce and hopefully eliminate the consequences and punishments around these charges.
Ohio Agency Nursing License Disciplinary Actions
The Board of Nursing will review all allegations of Ohio nurses violating the Ohio Nursing Practice Act. The Board of Nursing takes all reports seriously and will pursue any credible allegation. How each individual case is handled can vary, but generally, the disciplinary process with the Board of Nursing will follow these steps:
If your employer or contractors you work for suspect you have violated any nursing-related law or regulation, under Ohio law, they are required to report this information directly to the Board of Nursing. Anyone acting in good faith can file a complaint against you; this person will not be held liable for any civil damages for their report or subsequent testimony during the disciplinary process. Common reporters include the friends or family of patients and even fellow nursing staff you work with.
The Board of Nursing is not required to pursue disciplinary action regarding minor violations of laws and regulations. It is possible the complaint will be responded to with the Board of Nursing solely issuing you a notice or warning if it deems appropriate.
Complaints will include the complainant's name, your information, a description of the alleged violation and incident, and the names of the victim and witnesses, if applicable. When filing a complaint, the filer can also attach relevant documents and evidence supporting their complaint. Complaints can be filed online or be emailed, faxed, or mailed to the Board of Nursing. All complaints and investigations are kept confidential, but the Board of Nursing has the authority to disclose information to law enforcement or government agencies for purposes of those entities' own investigations.
When a complaint is filed against you, the Board of Nursing will notify you in writing. You will need to respond to the complaint; ignoring a complaint will only make matters worse and could result in losing your agency nursing license. As soon as you receive notice of the complaint against you, you need to retain an attorney; your Lento Law Firm attorney will be able to draft an appropriate response and begin prepping you for the disciplinary process.
Summary and Automatic Suspensions
The Board of Nursing can impose a summary or automatic suspension in unique situations. The Board of Nursing can issue a summary suspension of your license without the usually required hearing if there is clear and convincing evidence that if you continue practicing, you present danger or immediate and serious harm to the public. Charges for offenses that permit the Board of Nursing to issue an immediate summary suspension include aggravated murder, murder, voluntary manslaughter, felonious assault, kidnapping, rape, and other crimes detailed in Section 29 of the Ohio Revised Code.
If you have pled guilty to any of the above offenses, your agency nursing license will automatically be suspended, and you will be notified. Suppose you do not request adjudication or participate in your scheduled adjudication when you have been subject to an automatic suspension. In that case, the Board of Nursing will permanently revoke your agency nursing license.
If the Board of Nursing issues a summary suspension, you will be notified in writing immediately. At this time, you can request an adjudication, which will be scheduled for seven to 15 days following your request. The summary suspension will be upheld until a final adjudication order is issued. The Board of Nursing must issue its final adjudication order within 90 days of the adjudication.
Following receipt of a complaint, the Board of Nursing will open an investigation. The Board of Nursing will assign an investigator to your case. The investigator will interview you, witnesses, the patient in question, and others who might be related to the case, such as your supervisor or employer. The investigator will collect all evidence and documentation related to the case.
Having your Lento Law Firm attorney involved in all communications with the investigator is important. While the investigator may act friendly, you must be careful of what you say and present; your attorney will ensure your rights are preserved and that nothing you convey to the investigator is misconstrued and used against you.
The Board of Nursing can offer you a settlement agreement at any time during the disciplinary process. Your Lento Law Firm attorney has reached settlement agreements with the Board of Nursing before and can advise if this is a good option in your case. Settlement agreements, also called consent agreements, often involve admitting guilt and agreeing to certain training, monitoring, or other conditions to be completed within a set time frame. The agreement may even allow you to keep practicing during the process, albeit likely with close monitoring.
If you do not reach a settlement agreement, it is common to have a formal hearing. A hearing is procedurally similar to a trial in many ways, even though you will not be before a judge in a court. Just because you are not in court does not mean you should attempt to represent yourself in a hearing before the Board of Nursing. The stakes are too high; you wouldn't go into court without an attorney and should not go into your Board of Nursing hearing without your Lento Law Firm attorney.
Before the hearing, there will be motions, sharing of evidence, and numerous procedural events that need to take place and be done correctly for you to succeed at your hearing. You can't afford to make mistakes in this process; losing your license over procedural missteps in the hearing process would be devastating.
The hearing is conducted similarly to a trial in that each side will present their evidence, make their arguments, and have the option to cross-examine witnesses. The Board of Nursing may ask questions throughout the hearing. The hearing will end with closing statements, and the Board of Nursing will deliberate.
Following your hearing, the Board of Nursing will notify you of its decision in writing. The Board of Nursing may take a variety of disciplinary actions against your agency nursing license, including denying renewal, revoking, suspending, or placing restrictions upon it. It also has the authority to impose fines on a per-violation basis; fines cannot exceed more than $500 per violation.
The Board of Nursing has the option to either take disciplinary action against you or place you into an alternative program. There are two alternative programs the Board of Nursing can implement instead of disciplinary action.
The first program is the Alternative Program for Substance Use Disorder; it is also referred to as the "Alternative Program." To participate in the Alternative Program, you must submit an Alternative Program for Substance Use Disorder Admission Application and an Initial Voluntary Temporary License/Certificate Surrender form. You should be aware that there are many disqualifiers to admission to the Alternative Program; some of these disqualifiers are:
- If you have a medical or psychiatric condition, diagnosis, or disorder other than substance abuse disorder, in which the symptoms are not adequately controlled
- If you have attempted or completed two or more substance use disorder treatment programs
- If you have substituted or tampered with a substance or drug of abuse
- The Board of Nursing has already taken action against your license
- If another jurisdiction has taken disciplinary action against your license
- You have completed or not completed, were terminated from, or are no longer in good standing in a similar program in another jurisdiction
The second alternative program option is the Practice Intervention and Improvement Program, called "PIIP." This program is for situations where you have not practiced following acceptable and prevailing standards of nursing care (as set forth in Ohio laws and regulations). The Board of Nursing will review the evidence of your case and determine if the practice deficiency that is subject to the complaint against you can be corrected through a PIIP rather than disciplinary action. When deciding if a PIIP is appropriate, the Board of Nursing will consider various factors, including but not limited to:
- Whether the public will be adequately protected from the unsafe practice if you enter a PIIP
- Whether your practice deficiency resulted in harm to a patient
- The likelihood that the practice deficiency at issue can be corrected through remediation
- Your cooperation with the Board of Nursing throughout its investigation
- Whether you have a mental or physical impairment that contributed to the practice deficiency
- Whether your practice deficiency represented an intentional or willful commission or omission
Your PIIP will include a great deal of information and requirements, including details of your practice deficiencies, specific remediation, educational requirements you must meet, and specific timeframes in which they must be met. Workplace monitoring will also be part of your PIIP and extensive documentation requirements, like providing your PIIP to your employers, managers, credentialing bodies, and more.
If you feel the Board of Nursing's disciplinary action is inappropriate, you are legally entitled to an appeal. Often, agency nurses facing disciplinary action do not immediately hire an attorney or hire an attorney without extensive knowledge of professional license defense; the unfortunate consequence can be receiving unfavorable disciplinary action from the Board of Nursing.
Just because the Lento Law Firm hasn't represented you from the beginning of your case does not mean we can't help now. Our Team frequently joins cases at the appeals stage. You have a very short time frame to appeal the Board of Nursing's decision, and like with the hearing, numerous administrative and procedural rules must be followed. Any error can result in you accidentally waiving your right to an appeal. The Lento Law Firm is well-versed in the Board of Nursing's appeal process. You might think all hope is lost after hearing the Board of Nursing's decision to take disciplinary action against you, but appeals are often successful. Don't miss your opportunity to get the best possible outcome and preserve your agency nursing license.
Allegations That Can Lead to Actions Against Your Agency Nursing License
Under Ohio law, no shortage of actions can land you in front of the Board of Nursing facing disciplinary action. Violations can be purely administrative or as serious as causing injury or death to a patient. Examples of actions that can threaten your agency nursing license include:
- Habitual or excessive use of controlled substances, habit-forming drugs, alcohol, or other chemical substances to an extent that impairs your ability to provide safe nursing care
- Impairment of your ability to practice nursing according to the acceptable and prevailing standards of safe nursing care because of a physical or mental disability
- Assaulting or causing harm to a patient or depriving a patient of the means to summon assistance
- Misappropriation or attempted misappropriation of money or any valuable in the course of practice
- Engaging in activities that exceed the scope of your agency nursing license
- If you have had your agency nursing license denied, revoked, suspended, or restricted in any other state or jurisdiction
Consequences of Disciplinary Action Against Your Agency Nursing License
Losing your agency nursing license, even temporarily, can have severe long-term consequences for your career. The loss of income alone can be devastating for you and those close to you. When disciplinary action is taken against your license, it will likely be entered into various nurse licensure disciplinary databases, such as Nursys. The Nursys database includes licensure verification, disciplinary action information, and practice privilege information for RNs and LPNs. Potential employers throughout the country will be able to view disciplinary actions taken against you in Ohio, preventing you from getting a fresh start elsewhere.
Areas We Serve in Ohio
The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team has fought for agency nurses facing disciplinary action all over the state of Ohio. While we can help you regardless of location, our Team often works in Ohio's larger cities, including Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, and Dayton.
Why You Need the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team
The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team will fight tirelessly to ensure that any threat to your agency nursing license is tackled. Our Team will be with you every step to make sure that your rights are protected through the disciplinary process and that the best case is presented on your behalf. There is nothing we want more than for you to retain your agency nursing license so you can maintain your livelihood and continue serving your Ohio community. To retain the Lento Law Firm, call us at 888-535-3686 or contact us online today.