Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Can Help Protect Your Ohio CNA License from Jeopardy
In healthcare, there are several key players that provide the requisite care patients, and residents of medical facilities need to survive. Certified nurse aides (CNAs) fall into this group of medical professionals, especially because they tend to work in nursing homes and long-term facilities. To ensure that patients are kept safe and provided with adequate patient-centered medical care, Ohio outlines certain standards and professional responsibilities that CNAs must maintain if they want to keep their licenses in good standing. If a CNA is accused of violating one of these standards or responsibilities, the state will adjudicate the issue and, if necessary, implement certain punishments on the CNA.
Being accused of violating the state's professional standards can be incredibly overwhelming. Contacting an attorney-advisor the moment you are informed of the complaint will ensure you do not suffer any unnecessary punishments and consequences that could affect several aspects of your life. Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team have spent years helping medical professionals, including CNAs, navigate the state's disciplinary hearings. The key to your defense is persuading the Ohio Department of Health that you did not engage in the suspected misconduct by presenting evidence and witness testimony to support that argument. You do not want to fail to prepare for these proceedings. Call the Lento Law Firm for help today.
Ohio Department of Health License Proceedings
The Ohio Department of Health oversees the licensing of CNAs. CNAs frequently care for vulnerable populations, such as the elderly or disabled individuals who cannot care for themselves independently. Given the profound responsibility of looking after these individuals, the Department of Health is committed to safeguarding their well-being. To ensure that CNAs do not jeopardize the safety of their residents and patients, the Department enforces strict behavioral standards. For example, if a CNA is accused of abandoning a patient by the patient's family, the Department of Health will review the issue, and if they determine the CNA did, in fact, abandon the patient, they will decide if they should suspend or revoke their certification. If your license is punished in some way, it will affect your ability to work - and thus provide for your family.
The regulations overseeing CNA licenses in Ohio pose difficulties in terms of accessibility and clarity. These guidelines can be challenging to locate and are often vague in their explanations. One specific example is the expectation for CNAs to seek assistance when they are unsure about how to properly care for a patient. However, what happens when a CNA believes they are correctly caring for the patient, but the patient is injured in the process? Should the CNA be punished for not asking questions when they didn't have any to ask?
Other professions benefit from comprehensive safeguards that include substantial regulatory language that they hope will protect members from baseless accusations and unwarranted disciplinary actions. However, CNA programs are incredibly short compared to other professional roles, and it seems unfair for CNAs to be accused and punished for something as simple as not asking enough questions, especially when disciplinary actions can have long-lasting consequences.
When confronted with uncertainty regarding how to build an effective defense or where to seek guidance upon receiving a complaint, Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team are here to help. With a vast array of experience, the Lento Law Firm will be able to examine any relevant legislation that exists, identify crucial regulations that can help, and determine whether the CNA did, based on the facts alleged, violate the state's regulations.
Types of Nursing Licenses in Ohio
As we explained above, the CNA license is just one of many medical professional licenses that are offered in Ohio. Unlike other nursing licenses, though, the CNA is overseen by the Department of Health.
To become a CNA in Ohio, you have to:
- Be at least 16 years old
- Be in good physical health
- Up-to-date immunization records
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Pass a criminal background check
- Graduate from a Certified Nursing Assistant School in Ohio
- Pass the State Exam
- Become a State-Tested Nurse Assistant (STNA)
Once you become an STNA, you will be eligible to work under the direct supervision of a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or a Registered Nurse (RN). It is also at this point that you can apply for the CNA certification, which will allow you to take the official CNA exam.
CNA licenses must be renewed every two years. For out-of-state CNAs looking to get a license in Ohio, they must simply apply with the Ohio Department of Health and prove they have finished the CNA training process and passed a state exam. When an individual wants to renew their Ohio CNA license, they must complete 48 hours of in-service training and provide proof of at least one day of paid service to keep their license active and be eligible for renewal. If the CNA fails to renew their license in time, they run the risk of having to go through the training process all over again.
The requirements for becoming a CNA can vary depending on the jurisdiction, but any accusations directed at a CNA can have disastrous consequences. Not only will it implicate a CNAs professional life by preventing them from working, but it can also negatively impact their personal life, preventing them from picking where they want to live or limiting their ability to support their family. Working with an attorney-advisor is the best way to ensure this does not happen.
Nursing License Compact for Ohio Certified Nurse Aides
To try and clear up some of the confusion that surrounds nursing licenses, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) established the Nursing License Compact (NLC) in the early 2000s. The goal of the compact was to create a simplified and cohesive licensing standard for LPNs, RNs, and APRNs. In 2018, the NLC evolved into the Enhanced Nursing License Compact (eNLC). The eNLC strives to provide nurses with a clearer understanding of the regulations and standards their licenses are subject to. As of today, just over 40 states and U.S. territories have joined the compact and benefit from its framework, including Ohio. Unfortunately, CNA licenses are not covered by either the NLC or the eNLC. As such, it is up to the states to mandate specific regulations for the CNAs to follow to remain in good standing with the Department of Health.
Many states criticized the eNLC, stating that it would prohibit them from collecting revenue from single-state licenses and that it would impact telemedicine and telenursing. They also stated that they would have a harder time keeping track, and adjudicating, the nurses' disciplinary matters. To combat the nay-sayers, the NCSBN created Nursys, an online database and notification system that informs nurses about their license renewal requirements. It also allows other organizations to log in and verify a nursing license. While Nursys is available for nursing licenses, it is not available for CNA certifications. Instead, individual states need to create specific ways to verify CNA licenses. In Ohio, CNA licenses can be verified on the Nurse Aide Search.
Despite the fact that CNAs are not part of the nursing compact, if a CNA is found responsible for misconduct in Ohio, it can still impede their ability to be certified in another state - or from pursuing higher education. For instance, if a CNA with a record of abusing a patient tries to apply for an LPN program, they will find it difficult to gain admittance. To stop these types of consequences from affecting every aspect of your life, it is incredibly important to get advice from an attorney-advisor.
The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Can Help Wherever You Are
Most attorneys are unable to help individuals outside of the state their bar license was issued in. But, Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team have the unique ability to travel across state lines to help CNAs in need. For instance, they can help CNAs working in some of the largest facilities around Ohio, including those at:
- Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
- Cleveland Clinic
- University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center
- Cleveland Clinic Hillcrest Hospital
- Christ Hospital
- Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital
- OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital
- Miami Valley Hospital
- ProMedica Toledo Hospital
- Kettering Health Main Campus
- Aultman Hospital
- Bethesda North Hospital
- University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center
- Altercare of Nobles Pond
- Aultman Transitional Care Center
- Bethany Village - Dayton
- Community Care Center - Alliance
- Concordia at Sumner
- Courtyard at Seasons
- Drake Center
- Euclid Sub-Acute Care Center
- First Community Village Healthcare Center
- Green Village Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation
- Hanna House Skilled Nursing Center
- Hennis Care Centre of Bolivar
- Jamestowne Rehabilitation
- Kendal at Granville
- Kingston Rehabilitation of Perrysburg
- Life Care Center Elyria
What Types of Allegations Can Put a Certified Nurse Aide License at Risk?
According to Ohio state legislation, a CNA license is at risk if the CNA commits any of the actions listed below. This list is, of course, not exhaustive, and some of the points are specific to Ohio, while others are based on our vast experience helping CNAs around the country. CNAs must refrain from:
- Sexually, physically, or emotionally abusing patients, their family members, or other facility employees.
- Mistreating, neglecting, or abandoning a patient, their family, or other employees.
- Stealing from the facility, the patients, or their families.
- Failing to maintain patient confidentiality.
- Physically assaulting a patient, resident, or employee.
- Exploiting a resident or their family in some way.
- Practicing without a valid CNA certification in the state of Ohio.
- Working while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or having a significant substance abuse problem that affects their standard of care.
Once the Department of Health receives a complaint alleging one of the actions above, they will initiate the disciplinary process to ensure the CNA is held accountable for their actions. Possible sanctions for such violations range from a written reprimand to the complete revocation of the CNA's license. Therefore, it is really important to seek legal advice as soon as possible.
Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team will make it a priority to mitigate any adverse outcomes you might experience after being accused of violating the state's professional standards. Additionally, they will diligently gather evidence and secure witness testimony to support any criminal charges or civil actions that might arise from the same incident. Contact the Lento Law Firm today to get help navigating these proceedings effectively.
Exemptions for Certified Nurse Aides in Ohio
Similar to other states in the United States, Ohio has created a Good Samaritan law. The Good Samaritan law allows CNAs to provide medical care in certain situations without facing disciplinary action. For instance, if an individual offers medical assistance during an emergency or at the scene of an accident, they cannot be subjected to disciplinary proceedings or held liable for civil damages or criminal charges. Thus, if the Department of Health continues to pursue a complaint against a CNA whose actions fall under this exemption, any decision they make on the matter - including which punishment to impose on the CNA - is invalid.
Unfortunately, this oversight occurs all the time, and CNAs are punished without any real cause. As such, having an attorney-advisor in your corner will ensure you are not being punished for actions that fall under an exemption. And if the matter somehow does make it into the adjudication process, Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento will help you organize and present a solid appeal in the appropriate appeals court to have the outcome overturned.
What is the Disciplinary Process for Ohio Certified Nurse Aides?
While the disciplinary process for most professions is published on the governing agency's website, the disciplinary process for Ohio CNAs is not. But because the Lento Law Firm has helped CNAs all over the country navigate these proceedings, we are sure it will follow the standard framework identified below.
Once the Department of Health receives the complaint against the CNA, they will review it and potentially reach out to interview the complainant and the accused nurse. It is very important that you work with an attorney-advisor prior to this initial interview to make sure you are prepared for their line of questioning.
When the initial review has ended, the Department of Health will decide if a formal investigation is necessary. If they launch it, they will appoint an investigator to meet with the parties again to dig deeper into the situation and request witnesses or evidence that supports their arguments. They will also determine if the matter falls within the jurisdiction of the Department of Health and/or whether it should be referred to state or federal law enforcement for further investigation.
After the investigation, the Department will review the investigation report and determine if a disciplinary hearing is supported by the preliminary evidence discovered during the investigation. If they decide a disciplinary hearing is appropriate, they will notify all parties involved of the date and time and the allegations being argued.
During the disciplinary hearing, both the state or the complainant and the CNA will get the chance to present their argument, including relevant witnesses and evidence that will act to bolster their stance. Both parties should also have the chance to cross-examine each other's evidence and witnesses. When the hearing ends, the Department of Health will decide if the CNA is responsible for the accused misconduct and what kind of sanction they are going to impose. As we mentioned above, potential sanctions will range from anything like a written reprimand to license suspension or revocation.
Some states will also offer CNAs a chance to meet before the disciplinary hearing to see if a settlement agreement can be reached. During the settlement conference, the Department will try to resolve the issue by getting the CNA to admit to their supposed actions. Despite the fact that this is a settlement conference, you still have the right to have counsel or an advisor at your side to help guide you.
Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento is an exceptionally skilled negotiator who will carefully analyze the settlement agreement proposed by the Department and guide you in making an informed decision on whether to reject or accept it. Without adequate representation or preparation for these disciplinary hearings, you are at risk of receiving severe sanctions or unjust punishment for actions you did not actually commit.
The fallout of disciplinary proceedings can be far-reaching. For example, you would be forced to relocate to another state if you wished to continue practicing as a CNA after your license was revoked. This is not the reality for many people as it is expensive to move. Moreover, moving doesn't always guarantee that you will be able to get a new license in the new state - especially if you have been accused of egregious actions. This can make it very hard to continue to live the life you and your family are accustomed to, which can negatively impact your mental and physical health.
Why You Need a Certified Nurse Aide License Defense Attorney in Ohio
A lot of times, complaints made against CNAs are made under less than stellar circumstances. For instance, some are made because the complainant is angry with CNA or because the resident made up a situation that never actually happened. When this happens, and the Department of Health continues to pursue the complaint, it can derail the accused CNAs life and future.
Many CNAs believe they can pursue a defense without any help. Instead of working with an attorney-advisor, they decide to try and present evidence and witness testimony on their own, which ends up being a less than successful attempt to have the complaint dropped. Additionally, there are several fundamental rights that the Department must provide to you during the disciplinary process, including the right to confront your accuser, the right to present a defense, and the right to work with an attorney or advisor during the proceedings. If the Department fails to provide you with these rights, their decision will be overturned in appeals court.
The Nature of Ohio Department of Health Charges Against a Certified Nurse Aide
Department of Health decisions are only valid within their jurisdiction. Because of these, they do constitute criminal convictions or civil penalties, which would be resolved in state or federal court. The Department does, at its own discretion, have the power to send a matter to state or federal law enforcement for further review if they think the accused misconduct violated state or federal law in some way.
Once the Department has referred the complaint to the state or federal law enforcement, and the judge or jury finds you guilty of the accused misconduct, you could be facing more than license revocation. You could be facing a jail or prison sentence or restitution payments to the supposed victims of your actions. If you would like to avoid such an outcome, Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team will work with law enforcement professionals to negotiate on your behalf if the matter should be moved to more serious proceedings.
How The Lento Law Firm Professional Licensing Defense Team Can Help
You have worked very hard to get your certified nurse aide license in Ohio. As such, being accused of misconduct can really shake your world and prevent you from pursuing the work and life you have worked so hard to build. Getting the help of an attorney-advisor is the best way to mitigate any negative consequences you might experience while defending yourself - and after.
Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team understand the unique challenges and complexities that CNAs encounter during the disciplinary process. Our proven track record of successfully representing professionals accused of violating their professional standards speaks for itself. Call 888-535-3686 today or schedule a consultation online.