Governor Shakes Up Nursing Board After Critical Investigation
On Monday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) fired three sitting members of the Board of Registered Nursing and appointed six new members to the panel in response to a report criticizing the amount of time it takes to resolve complaints against nurses, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The governor's action fills two of three vacancies and replaces four of the board's sitting members, including one who resigned Sunday.
The membership changes will not directly affect the standing of Ruth Ann Terry, the board's executive officer. Only the board has the authority to replace the executive.
The six new appointees will not need Senate confirmation, and compensation is $100 per working day.
The action comes a day after the Times and the news organization ProPublica published an investigation finding that the board takes an average of more than three years to respond to complaints of misconduct among nurses (Weber/Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 7/14).
The investigation also found that the board:
- Did not discipline nurses who received new misconduct charges while on probation;
- Did not use its authority to immediately prevent potentially dangerous nurses from practicing; and
- Failed to initiate action against nurses who already had been disciplined by employers or other parties (California Healthline, 7/13).
Schwarzenegger said, "It is absolutely unacceptable that it takes years to investigate such outrageous allegations of misconduct against licensed health professionals whom the public rely on for their health and well-being" (Sacramento Bee, 7/13).
Fred Aguiar, secretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency, said officials will ask the new board to immediately develop a plan to eliminate the case backlog.
In addition, California's Senate Business and Professions Committee, which has jurisdiction over the board, plans to hold a hearing in August to address issues related to the investigation.Bill Gage, chief consultant for the Senate committee, said the panel will consider legislation that would appoint an "enforcement monitor" to oversee the board's process and provide recommendations (Los Angeles Times, 7/14). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.