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Nurses facing discipline in Ohio, still treating patients: Part 1

You may not know it, but the nurse taking care of you or your family member right now in Ohio may be facing disciplinary action. Due to a significant delay in the investigation process, nurses facing complaints and disciplinary action can continue to practice nursing for more than a year after complaints are filed and investigations begin.

The Ohio Board of Nursing is suffering a major backlog stemming from the overwhelming number of complaints of misconduct -- including allegations of substandard medical care, patient abuse and other criminal misconduct - against nurses. This paradoxically means that questionable nurses can continue seeing patients for as long as a year before they are investigated.

Allowing deficient or abusive nurses to continue providing medical care to patients can affect more than those patients who first raised the allegations. Even nurses who get fired from a position may get hired at a different agency while an investigation is pending.

A recent piece in the Dayton Daily News discussed the issue and highlighted a couple of examples of patients who were harmed by nurses who continue to work. One woman secretly videotaped a nurse pinching and being rough with her severely disabled husband while she was feeding him. A year has passed since she first complained about the nurse and still the nurse has not faced a hearing.

In many cases, patients and employers are unaware that their nurses have pending investigations that could result in revocation of their licenses or even criminal charges when they hire them.

The next post will discuss some of the reasons behind these delays.

Source: Dayton Daily News, "Complaint backlog allows nurses to keep working," Josh Sweigart and Doug Page, Feb. 24, 2012

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