Monday, March 31, 2008

How does this help the public?

I have been receiving several phone calls regarding Office of Inspector General letters informing nurses that they may be excluded from the Medicare/Medicaid program. I discuss this on my Information for Nurses blog, but I wanted to address the underlying issue of the over intrusive government (both state and federal). When the OIG first began the exclusion, it was for providers that defrauded the government and the exclusion would seem to be warranted, but the exclusions have exploded.

Now, when we are in the middle of a HUGE nursing shortage, nurses are facing exclusion for a large variety of reasons that have nothing to do with fraud. This is nothing more that yet one more governmental entity getting a bite of the nurse when an issue arises. How many entities does one nurse have to face over one issue?

It is an election year, encourage your state and federal legislators to stop this overreaching. They are harming the public, not helping. We do not need more governmental control, we need less. Administrative Lawyers, such as myself, know that an agency/regulatory entity is only as good as the people working there and even then, they could be hindered by policies or supervisors.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Another burden for Disciplined Nurses

Every nurse used to be worried about their name showing up in the Board's newsletter. That worry is still present, but now there is an additional burden for the disciplined nurse to endure; their Agreed Orders are available online for all to review. No more just seeing numbers and wondering what the nurse did, but now the facts are available for review.

My hope is that there will be positive outcomes from this additional information. I hope that nurses will recognize how vulnerable they are while practicing and become more involved in advocacy for nurses to limit disciplinary actions against nurses for minor violations. I also hope that nurses will realize that another nurse that has been disciplined by the Board is not a "bad" nurse and that after reviewing the facts, they realized that they have also been in the same situation and that only luck prevented them from ending up with disciplinary action. Just a note - I am not saying that there should not be regulation because there are often valid reasons to discipline licensees; my concern has always been a just review of the facts of the case and if the FACTS show a valid concern for the public's safety, then the application of appropriate discipline to protect the public.

My hope is always that nurses band together to provide a united front against those that are a danger to the nursing profession. Too many nurses are leaving nursing because of unjust actions and non-support from their fellow nurses. Nursing is a grand profession and nurses deserve respect from everyone including fellow nurses.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Justice for a Nurse

Back in December I posted a message about the Texas Board of Nursing Investigator who refused to obtain documents that would help show my client's innocence in a case. I had to request a subpoena in order to get the needed documents and when I received the records and reviewed them---the records support exactly what my client said happened!!! The issue is that if the investigator was being non-biased and fair, she would have obtained the records when requested rather than having me request a subpoena to obtain the information. This situation makes me worry about nurses that do not know to hire an attorney and when faced with similar circumstances, give in and accept discipline when they are in fact, innocent.

I also want to point out that my experience with this investigator is not universal at the Texas BON. I have dealt with several investigators over the years, including one today, that are extremely helpful in obtaining information that the nurse needs. They understand that their role is to be open to both sides of the story and to obtain all necessary information prior to forming an opinion. They truly investigate a case. But, until the BON makes all investigators adhere to a non-bias, fact finding method of investigation, the potential remains for an innocent nurse to be wrongly disciplined.