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Nurses facing discipline in Ohio, still treating patients: Part 3

The previous two posts discussed the alarming news that many nurses in Ohio who are facing charges of abuse and neglect and other misconduct may continue to practice nursing for up to a year or more before they face a formal disciplinary hearing. This means that nurses who deserve to have their license taken away may be continuing to put vulnerable patients in harm's way.

The Ohio Board of Nursing has a huge backlog because the numbers of complaints have skyrocketed in recent years. The Board wants to give every nurse their right to due process, but it is taking so long that more patients may be harmed by nurses unfit to practice. One nurse who was accused of neglect in the case of a 14-year-old disabled girl who died from starvation still has yet to face a hearing, even though the girl died a year ago.

Three nurses faced criminal charges in that case for failing to report how ill the girl had become. Other complaints against nurses that have yet to be investigated and addressed include substance abuse, drug theft, patient abuse, substandard practice and other criminal misconduct. If a nurse is convicted of a felony, the Board can immediately suspend her license. Otherwise, complaints will be heard at one of six meetings throughout the year held by the Board.

The Board hasn't yet determined how it will handle the increased volume of complaints. It is to be hoped that more patients are not harmed by unfit nurses who should have their license taken away in the meantime.

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

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