New Rules for Reporting Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation of Adults

On September 29, 2018, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (JFS) issued a new version of Rule 5101.63 that expands the list of individuals required to report suspected elder abuse. Now, any individuals licensed under Chapter 4731, those licensed to practice medicine and surgery, or Chapter 4723, registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, who have reasonable cause to believe that an adult is being abused, neglected or exploited shall immediately report such belief to their county JFS department, or they may face criminal charges.

The report can be oral, but the department may request a more formal, written report. Anyone who makes a report of abuse is immune from civil or criminal liability, unless they act in bad faith or with malicious purpose. ORC 5101.63(E) provides that an employer may not discharge, reduce benefits/work privileges, or take any other detrimental action against an employee for making a report of abuse.

You can download the related guides through JFS Forms Central (http://www.odjfs.state.oh.us/forms/) using these form numbers: JFS 08097 – Understanding Elder Abuse: A Guide for Medical Professionals and JFS 08098 – Understanding Elder Abuse: A Guide for Ohioans. ODJFS will develop training materials about identifying and reporting elder abuse.

The county JFS departments will be available to receive reports of abuse 24/7. If you have any questions about this new rule change, please contact the Collis Law Group at (614) 486-3909.

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Ohio Courts will not reverse Medical Board decisions if the sanction seems too harsh

I recently read of a Medical Board disciplinary matter in the State of Illinois, in which the Illinois Medical Board revoked a physician’s medical license for engaging in a sexual relationship with a patient. Then, the Illinois Appeals court reversed the decision and sent the case back to the Illinois Board to issue an alternative sanction after finding the sanction was “overly severe” given the physician’s conduct. William Joel Kafin v. The Division of Professional Regulation of the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.   I was struck by this case, as this would never happen in Ohio.

In Ohio, under Ohio Revised Code Chapter 119, decisions of the State Medical Board can be appealed to the Franklin County Courts. The Court will then determine if the decision of the Board was based on reliable, probative and substantial evidence and is in accordance with law. Pons v. Ohio St. Med. Bd., 66 Ohio St.3rd 619, 621. However, case-law exists in Ohio that the Courts will not reverse a decision of the Medical Board purely on the belief that the sanction is too harsh. Henry’s Cafe, Inc. v. Bd. of Liquor Control, (1950), 170 Ohio St.233. Even if the evidence is clear that the Ohio Medical Board imposed a sanction that was different or harsher than was imposed in other similarly situated cases, the Courts still not reverse a Medical Board decision.

The only way to obtain relief from a Medical Board decision by the Courts is to show that the Board based its decision on evidence that was contrary to law or was not reliable, probative or substantial. While it is not unheard of to have a Medical Board decision reversed by the Court, it is certainly an uphill battle.

It is the intent of Ohio administrative procedure law that state agencies be given the authority to regulate others in their profession. Arlen v. State Med. Bd (1980), 61 Ohio St.2d 168. Therefore, if a physician is issued a Notice of Opportunity for Hearing (citation letter), it is important to put your best case forward at the administrative hearing before the Medical Board.  The Court will rarely disturb the final decision of the Medical Board.  Unlike Illinois, Ohio courts will not reverse a Medical Board decision because the Court thinks the sanction is too harsh.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or the State Medical Board of Ohio in general, please feel free to email me at beth@collislaw.com or call me at (614) 486-3909 or see our firm website at www.collislaw.com.