More Nurses Fallout: Head of Investigations Unit Resigns
The head of investigations for California’s Department of Consumer Affairs has resigned, continuing the fallout from our investigation into lengthy delays in disciplining nurses accused of egregious misconduct.
According to a spokeswoman for the California State and Consumer Service Agency, the decision by Lynda Swenson to quit was tied to revelations by The Los Angeles Times and ProPublica about problems at the Board of Registered Nursing. Most investigations of errant nurses are handled by the Division of Investigation, which Swenson headed.
Our investigation detailed how the nursing board takes an average of three years and five months to investigate and close complaints. The biggest bottleneck occurs at the investigation stage, where the nursing board shares a pool of fewer than 40 investigators with up to 25 other licensing boards and bureaus. Meanwhile, nurses with criminal records and documented histories of incompetence and drug abuse continue to practice.
After our article was published, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced four members of the nursing board and filled two vacancies on the nine-seat board. Two holdover members remain and one position remains vacant. Longtime executive officer Ruth Ann Terry resigned Tuesday.
California has failed to protect patients from nurses who are incompetent and dangerous.
The Story So Far
In California, nurses accused of serious wrongdoing have often been left free to practice for years while their cases were being investigated—with patients unaware of the danger.
The board that oversees the state’s registered nurses has taken more than three years, on average, to discipline nurses with histories of drug abuse, negligence, incompetence and violence.