Tuesday, July 14, 2009

After Recent L.A. Times Article, Governor Replaces Six Out Of Seven Nursing Board Members

Attorney Commentary On Axing Of Nursing Board Members:

As predicted, the Los Angeles Times article about the California Board of Registered Nursing caused some heads to roll. Governor Schwarzenegger fired three Board members and one resigned. Governor Schwarzenegger in his press release stated that he fired the Board members due to the unacceptable time it takes to discipline nurses accused of egregious misconduct.

The governor then appointed six new members (out of the seven total) thereby replacing most of the Board. The positions do not require Senate confirmation. Here is the Los Angeles Times' article on the Governor's action:


Is this simply an act that seems political and does not address what would need to be done to speed up the process? How about hiring more investigators, experts and attorneys to work on these cases and expedite them? What about hiring more administrative law judges so there is not a backlog that makes it difficult to obtain a hearing in under a year?

Let's remember that the Board members who had been fired had all been appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger.

The firing of Board members does not affect the true leader of the Board of Registered Nursing, Executive Director Ruth Ann Terry, who has been the Board's executive officer for nearly 16 years and a staff member for 25. Only the Board has the power to hire and fire the executive director.

There is an argument that the leadership of the Board should be able to move these cases along. And how much are Board members paid? $100 per day.

The discipline cases do not even get to the Board until there has been a settlement or hearing and the decision needs approval.

This seems like surface change without a true analysis of what is happening at the Nursing Board. As it is, the budget has made it difficult for many of the Boards to function timely where there are mandated furloughs. Certainly, leadership can make a difference but there must be a number of reasons that have contributed to the delays and many of those are probably structural and may relate to the budget and the state's resources.

True leadership takes time. Changes to organizations that are effective should not be window dressing. Changes are needed to the Nursing Board but those need to be addressed within the organization and in an intelligent, well-planned manner.

Any questions or comments should be directed to: tgreen@greenassoc.com. Tracy Green is a principal at Green and Associates in Los Angeles, California. They focus their practice on the representation of licensed professionals, individuals and businesses in civil, business, administrative and criminal proceedings. They have a specialty in representing licensed health care providers. Their website is: http://www.greenassoc.com/


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