Governor shakes up Board of Registered Nursing. What does it mean for our clients?

On July 13, 2009, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger fired three members of the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) and accepted the resignation of a fourth member. The next day, executive Director Ruth Ann Terry resigned after 16 years. The shake up stems from a Los Angeles Times article which reported that the BRN of takes years to complete disciplinary actions against nurses who have caused harm to patients.

Our experience with the Board of Registered Nursing over the last 16 years was positive. The BRN reserved license revocation for unfit nurses while seeking probation, rehabilitation, education and monitoring for most violations. Criticism regarding delay between investigations and the filing of Accusations does have merit. Nevertheless, the BRN was one of California’s most competent agencies. Just prior to the shakeup, we saw the Board begin to take hard line positions on the settlement of minor cases. The Board is now seeking license suspensions, which we view as punitive and rarely useful in protecting the public. Our hope is that the new Board will focus on speeding up investigations and the filing of Accusations rather than adopting punitive approach to discipline.