Nursing Board Calls for More Staff, Authority To Investigate Complaints
On Monday, managers of the California Board of Registered Nursing urged state officials to boost the board's enforcement staff, increase licensing fees and accelerate disciplinary procedures against nurses accused of misconduct, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The board leaders issued the recommendations in an 11-page report presented at a hearing of the Department of Consumer Affairs, which oversees the board.
Prior to the hearing, board members named Louise Bailey interim executive officer of the panel.
Earlier this month, the Times and the news organization ProPublica published an investigation finding that the board takes an average of more than three years to settle misconduct complaints against nurses.
After the investigation went public, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) replaced most nursing board members. The following day, Ruth Ann Terry stepped down as executive officer of the board.
On Saturday, the Times also reported that the board often did not act immediately against nurses with substance abuse problems who failed to complete the board's diversion program.
In the new report, the nursing board managers confirmed many findings from the Times/ProPublica investigation and elaborated on additional obstacles in the disciplinary process.
The recommendations call for the nursing board to:
- Accelerate administrative hearings for nurses accused of misconduct;
- Add 60 enforcement analyst positions to bring caseloads down to 150 per analyst;
- Assign staff members to track nurses on probation and in diversion;
- Examine enforcement processes used by other states and California agencies;
- Exchange information about errant nurses with other states and agencies;
- Hire consumer affairs investigators to work solely with the nursing board;
- Improve coordination with the attorney general's office;
- Investigate charges against nurses while they are enrolled in diversion;
- Seek legislative permission to access medical and personnel records during investigations; and
- Suspend nurses who fail out of diversion.
Several board members said they did not want to comment on the report's recommendations before reviewing them.
Next MeetingThe new board has scheduled another meeting for August to examine the recommendations and determine which proposals to pursue (Finnegan/Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 7/28). 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.