KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Schwarzenegger Fires Three California Nursing Board Members

"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced most members of the state Board of Registered Nursing on Monday, citing the unacceptable time it takes to discipline nurses accused of egregious misconduct," The Los Angeles Times reports.

The LA Times reports that Schwarzenegger "fired three of six sitting board members -- including President Susanne Phillips -- in two-paragraph letters curtly thanking them for their service. Another member resigned Sunday. Late Monday, the governor's administration released a list of replacements. The shake-up came a day after The Times and the nonprofit news organization ProPublica published an investigation finding that it takes the board, which oversees 350,000 licensees, an average of three years and five months to investigate and close complaints against nurses. During that time, nurses accused of wrongdoing are free to practice -- often with spotless records -- and move from hospital to hospital. Potential employers are unaware of the risks, and patients have been harmed as a result. Reporters found nurses who continued to work unrestricted for years despite documented histories of incompetence, violence, criminal convictions and drug theft or abuse."

The LA Times reports: "Besides Phillips, the other fired board members were vice president Elizabeth O. Dietz, a professor of nursing at San Jose State, and Janice Glaab, a public affairs consultant. Schwarzenegger's action Monday fills two of three vacancies on the board and replaces four of the board's sitting members -- all of whom had been appointed by him. The two remaining members are Nancy L. Beecham, appointed by the governor in 2006, and Dian Harrison, who was appointed last year by Assembly speaker Karen Bass."

The LA Times notes: "In addition to the governor's action, the state Senate Business and Professions Committee, which has jurisdiction over the board, plans to hold a hearing next month to address the issues. ... The committee will look at introducing legislation that would appoint an "enforcement monitor" to evaluate the board's discipline process and make recommendations, said Bill Gage, the committee's chief consultant. Such a monitor was appointed at one time to work with the Medical Board of California, which regulates the state's doctors" (Weber and Ornstein, 7/14).

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