Late Monday, Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced nearly everyone on the state’s Board of Registered Nursing, “citing the unacceptable length of time it takes to discipline nurses accused of egregious misconduct.” The move came a day after a ProPublica and Los Angeles Times investigation into the board’s activity was published.
He fired three of six sitting board members — including President Susanne Phillips — in one-paragraph letters curtly thanking them for their service. Another member resigned Sunday. Late Monday, his administration released a list of replacements.
Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber of ProPublica and Maloy Moore of the Los Angeles Times joined forces to review every case between 2002 and 2008 in which a nurse faced disciplinary action — more than 2000 of them — and found that, on average, California’s Board of Registered Nursing took more than three years to take action on such cases. Many took far longer and have not yet been acted upon at all. In other large states, the reporters write, such cases are usually dealt with in less than a year.
The reporting team adds depth to their investigative work with a compelling series of anecdotes, told from the perspective of patients, administrators and even the wayward nurses themselves. They also dissect the system, finding few safeguards other than the tardy board review process, and work to discover all the factors contributing to the delays.
In reaction to the story, leaders of the California Board of Registered Nurses sent a note of encouragement to its staff on Monday that points to some recent accomplishments.
Over at Off the Charts, the American Journal of Nursing blog, AJN editor-in-chief emeritus Diana J. Mason, R.N., Ph.D., weighs in on the investigation and an earlier study of recidivism among disciplined nurses. Mason suggests that the National Council of State Boards for Nursing could “work with the state boards to publicly report on a state-by-state basis a quality metric of length of time between complaints and board action.”
Calif. Nursing Board executive officer resigns: On Tuesday, the longtime executive officer of the embattled California Board of Registered Nursing resigned. Ornstein and Weber report that “Terry had been the appointed executive officer for nearly 16 years and had been on the staff of the board for 25.”