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Statement on Temporary Rules

Regarding the temporary administrative rules adopted at the October 13, 2021, OSBN board meeting:

The temporary administrative rules (OAR 851-001-0160) adopted during the October 13 board meeting add failure to comply with Oregon Health Authority COVID-19 rules to the list of behaviors/actions that comprise conduct derogatory in the Nurse Practice Act.  The board voted to adopt the temporary rules.

What this means: While the rules are in effect, if the Board receives a complaint that a licensee is not complying with OHA COVID-19 rules, the Board can investigate the complaint and possibly take disciplinary action if violations of the Nurse Practice Act are discovered.  If the Board finds that a violation of the Nurse Practice Act has occurred and decides to take disciplinary action, there are a range of disciplinary actions the Board may take, from reprimand to a civil penalty. 

Exceptions: The OSBN has no authority to issue or approve medical or religious exceptions, and licensees should not preemptively send any exception paperwork to the OSBN.  Contact the Oregon Health Authority or your employer for answers to your medical or religious exception questions. 

About complaints: The OSBN does accept anonymous complaints, however the Board can only investigate a complaint if:
  1. it has jurisdiction,
  2. it contains adequate information to follow-up, and
  3. it describes a possible violation of the Nurse Practice Act.
If any one of those conditions isn't met, the OSBN will not open an investigation.  Learn more here about the OSBN investigation process.
 

Statement Made by OSBN Executive Director Ruby Jason during the October 13, 2021, Board Meeting:

"Board staff would like to thank those who have taken the time to write and for those who have come out in this weather to exercise their right to gather and have their opinions known. In reviewing the written and e-mail statements from nurses throughout the state, it has become apparent that there is much misconception about the actual scope of authority and the purpose of the OSBN and other healthcare licensing boards.
  • Agencies may adopt temporary rules according to ORS 183.335(5) and (6)(a).  Temporary rules are a normal part of administrative rulemaking and are in force for only 180 days, after which they may be made permanent through the administrative rule hearing process.
  • The mission of this board and all healthcare regulatory boards is to ensure public safety.  Healthcare regulatory boards cannot advocate for the professions they regulate. The Board does not have the jurisdictional authority to favor the profession over its role as a state agency and protection of the public. 
  • The Board has no jurisdiction over the decisions requiring vaccines for healthcare workers. Those decisions are made by those with the state authority to do so, which does not include any of the healthcare licensing boards.
  • This board has no jurisdiction over whether nurses are hired or fired.
  • This board has no jurisdiction over employer requirements or employee/employer disputes.
  • All other health regulatory board have or will adopt the model rules developed by the Department of Justice.
  • These temporary rules add failure to comply with OHA COVID-19 rules to the list of behaviors/actions that comprise conduct derogatory in the Nurse Practice Act.  Throughout the pandemic the Board has passed previous rules regarding non-compliance to COVID-19 mandates as conduct derogatory to the practice of nursing.
  • Adopting these rules does not mean that any nurse or nursing assistant who has not received a COVID-19 vaccination will automatically lose their license or certificate on October 18.
  • Adopting these rules does not mean that the Board will expedite or act automatically on any complaint.  If the Board receives a complaint indicating that a licensee is not complying with OHA COVID-19 rules, it will follow its usual complaint and investigatory process. Any decision to discipline a license will be based on a preponderance of evidence that the public was placed at risk of harm by the actions or inactions of the licensee. 
  • All complaints are handled on a case-by-case basis and judged on the facts of the case. 
  • Concerning the misinformation circulating regarding these temporary rules or this meeting:
    • Rumors stating that this vote today will automatically revoke nursing licenses are false.
    • Rumors stating that unvaccinated nurses will lose their licenses automatically on October 18 are false.
    • Rumors stating that somehow this Board will search out unvaccinated nurses specifically to revoke their licenses are false.
    • Rumors stating that all nurses will be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of license renewal are false.
  • The Board derives its authority from the state legislature and does not have the jurisdictional scope to debate or vote on the OHA rules requiring vaccines for healthcare workers. 
While many argue that the decision to be vaccinated or not should be a personal choice, abiding by the regulations applicable to nursing licensure is not a matter of individual choice.  It is the law.  While many nurses personify their identity as a nurse, the legal facts are that use of the term “nurse" is one only allowed to those who have met and continue to meet state requirements for practice. The Board has been created to assure that only duly qualified individuals are licensed and only those who abide by the practice act are qualified to maintain the legal title “nurse.""








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