Oversight Problems Extend to Licensed Vocational Nurses
In a number of cases, the California Bureau of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians has been slow to take disciplinary action after learning of nurses' criminal backgrounds, according to an investigation by the Los Angeles Times and ProPublica, a not-for-profit investigative news organization.
For the investigation, reporters looked at 162 disciplinary decisions made in 2007 against vocational nurses.
Reporters found that 27 nurses had three or more criminal convictions before regulators filed complaints and three had gotten nine or more convictions before the board moved to suspend or restrict their licenses.Â
The findings follow an investigation by the Times and ProPublica that examined the Board of Registered Nursing, uncovering similar cases.
The investigations have sparked wider concerns about state oversight of health care professionals, according to the Times.
Carrie Lopez -- director of the Department of Consumer Affairs, which oversees the boards overseeing registered nurses and licensed vocational nurses -- has ordered the California Bureau of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians to post documents on its Web site indicating the status of investigations affecting nurse licenses currently in progress.Â Lopez's order took effect immediately.
The move is intended to help hospitals and other health care organizations screen potential employees more effectively by providing more up-to-date information about licensees' status.
Moreover, the bureau is moving forward with plans to require applicants for nursing licenses to provide fingerprints to the state, boosting efforts to identify nurses with criminal records (Weber/Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 11/2).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.