Journalism in the Public Interest

When Caregivers Harm

The board charged with overseeing California's 350,000 registered nurses often takes years to act on complaints of egregious misconduct, leaving nurses accused of wrongdoing free to practice without restrictions. More »

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced most members of the state Board of Registered Nursing, citing the unacceptable time it takes to discipline nurses accused of egregious misconduct. More »

Map: What you need to know about tracking nurses in your state. More »

We analyzed the records of nearly 2,400 nurses who faced disciplinary action by the California Board of Registered Nursing. You can keep track of nurses -- and many other licensed professionals -- in your state. Here's how.

All 38 Stories (11)

  updates since last visit

New York Lawmakers Race to Toughen Oversight of Nurses and Other Professionals

After a ProPublica investigation showing holes in New York’s system for licensing and disciplining nurses, the Legislature is considering measures to strengthen oversight.

NY Lawmakers Discuss Tougher Oversight for Nurses

Legislators are looking for ways to close gaps exposed by a recent ProPublica investigation. New York does less than other states to check nurses’ criminal backgrounds and often is slow to discipline licensees for lapses in care.

Cuomo Floats Reforming Oversight of New York Nurses

The governor said he was open to changes after a ProPublica investigation found dangerous gaps in the oversight of the state’s nurses.

Weak Oversight Lets Dangerous Nurses Work in New York

New York lags behind other states in vetting nurses and moving to discipline those who are incompetent or commit crimes. Often, even those disciplined by other states or New York agencies hold clear licenses.

Troubled Health-Care Staffing Chain Settles With Government for $150 Million

Maxim Healthcare Services, Inc. had been accused of submitting false bills to federal and state health programs. An earlier ProPublica investigation found that the company had hired several nurses despite a history of problems.

States Fail to Report Disciplined Caregivers to Federal Database

Hundreds of state agencies have failed to tell the federal government about health professionals they disciplined, ProPublica has found.

Troubled Nurses Skip from State to State Under Compact

A 24-state compact created to help get nurses to areas where they are needed most has provided cover to nurses with a record of misconduct.

California Eyes Discipline for 2,000 Nurses Sanctioned by Other States

After a ProPublica-LA Times investigation, regulators found 3,500 nurses with clean California licenses had been punished for misconduct in other states.

Union Pressure Exacts a Toll on California Bill to Overhaul Health Care Oversight

A California state senator agrees to drop some provisions of her bill on the investigation and discipline of California health professionals.

Unions Take Fire at Bill to Revamp California Health Care Oversight

Labor unions representing California nurses are attacking key parts of a bill that would overhaul the state’s system for investigating and disciplining health workers accused of misconduct.

Why We’re Giving Away Our Reporting Recipe

Feds Reassign Heads of Troubled Caregivers Database

An oversight change follows revelations that a repository on dangerous health care providers is missing many records.

Tracking Nurses—What You Need to Know

How easy does your state make it to investigate licensed nurses online?

Introducing Our State-by-State Guide to Dangerous Nurses

A look at which states provide online information on nurses' licenses and discipline.

Dangerous Caregivers Missing From Federal Database

Records from many serious cases are absent from a database designed to let hospitals check on problem health care providers.

Inept Nurses Free to Work in New Locales

States fail to effectively tell one another about sanctions, so disciplined nurses often go work elsewhere without restrictions.

Dozens of Criminal Registered Nurses Identified by California Regulators

Fingerprint checks of thousands of California nurses not previously subject to background checks have turned up dozens of convictions of crimes ranging from petty theft to murder.

Calif. Registered Nursing Board Follows Up on Our Nurses Stories

The California Board of Registered Nursing has taken actions against nurses featured in a series of stories by ProPublica and the Los Angeles Times.

A ‘Crazy’ Way for an Industry to Operate

There's no simple way for a hospital or temp agency to find out if a nurse it might hire has caused problems elsewhere in the United States.

Temp Firms a Magnet for Unfit Nurses

Emboldened by a chronic nursing shortage and scant regulation, temp nursing firms vie for their share of a free-wheeling, $4-billion industry. Some have become havens for nurses who hopscotch from place to place to avoid the consequences of their misconduct.

California Adopts Stricter Rules for Drug Abusers in the Health Industry

California will require health workers who have abused drugs and are in state-run recovery programs to take at least 104 drug tests in their first year.

Reform of California Nursing Board’s Discipline System Shows Early Progress

After moving swiftly to replace the leadership of the Board of Registered Nursing, California officials are revamping practices that had allowed errant nurses to work for years after complaints were filed against them.

Schwarzenegger Wants Sweeping Reforms in Discipline System for Health Care Providers

The California governor says the process for policing health professionals is broken, but some of the problems have worsened on his watch.

California Will Require Criminal Background Checks Before Granting Temporary Licenses to Nurses

The state's nursing board, tightening its rules, will apply the same standard to short-term licenses that is already in place for permanent ones.

State Board Seeks Swifter Action Against Errant Nurses

Managers of the California Board of Registered Nursing seek to more than triple the size of their enforcement staff and immediately boost licensing fees to speed discipline against errant nurses who may pose a danger to patients.

Loose Reins on Nurses in Drug Abuse Program

For years, nursing board officials have described diversion as a haven where good nurses can kick bad habits – without losing their licenses or their reputations. But spotty oversight of the program allowed nurses who dropped out to continue treating patients, despite being labeled risks to public safety.

After Nurses Investigation, Scrutiny Turns to Other Calif. Health Boards

More Nurses Fallout: Head of Investigations Unit Resigns

California Nursing Board Executive Officer Ruth Ann Terry Resigns

The longtime executive officer of the embattled California Board of Registered Nursing resigned Tuesday, ensuring almost entirely new leadership for the agency as it strives to revamp its oversight of hundreds of thousands of caregivers. But the sweeping reforms promised by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this week face significant obstacles.

Schwarzenegger Replaces Most of State Nursing Board

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced most members of the state Board of Registered Nursing, citing the unacceptable time it takes to discipline nurses accused of egregious misconduct.

Troubled Nursing Board Defends Itself

Leaders of the California Board of Registered Nursing sent a note of encouragement to their staff following a Los Angeles Times-ProPublica investigation that found the board takes years to act on complaints of egregious misconduct.

Sanctioned California Nurses Database

Search the California Board of Registered Nursing database for disciplinary procedures between 2002 and September 2009.

Board Takes No Public Action Against Some King/Drew Nurses

Spencer Sullivan: His Body a Prison

Today Spencer Sullivan, 48, spends his days in a wheelchair at his Laguna Hills home. In 2001, after neck surgery at UC San Francisco Medical Center, two doctors gave similar orders for powerful medications. Instead of questioning the duplication, a nurse gave Sullivan all of the drugs, then didn't check on him as required, state records allege.

When Caregivers Harm: Problem Nurses Stay on the Job as Patients Suffer

The board charged with overseeing California's 350,000 registered nurses often takes years to act on complaints of egregious misconduct, leaving nurses accused of wrongdoing free to practice without restrictions, our joint investigation with The Los Angeles Times found.

Veronica Glaubach: Joy of Birth, Then Tragedy

Many California Health Workers Not Checked for Criminal Pasts

California's failure to check the criminal backgrounds of health professionals extends well beyond nurses, encompassing tens of thousands of doctors, dentists, psychiatric technicians and therapists. As many as a third of the state's 937,100 licensed healthcare workers have not been screened through fingerprint checks, according to a December 2008 estimate.

Board Knew of Nurses’ Criminal Records But Took Years to Act

Even in cases when vocational nurses reported their own felony convictions, the vocational nursing board failed to act in a timely manner.

California Nursing Board Will Require Fingerprints From All Licensees

The California Board of Registered Nursing approved emergency regulations requiring all licensees to submit fingerprints shortly after a Los Angeles Times/ProPublica story revealed that dozens of convicted criminals had kept their licenses for years.

Criminal Past Is No Bar to Nursing in California

Dozens of nurses convicted of crimes, including sex offenses and attempted murder, have remained fully licensed to practice in California for years before the state nursing board acted against them. In some cases, nurses with felony records continue to have spotless licenses – even while serving time behind bars.

  • California Sanctioned Nurse Database - The Los Angeles Times and ProPublica compiled a database of nearly 2,400 California nurses who have been sanctioned since 2002. Search the records of nurses who have faced disciplinary proceedings and the circumstances of allegations against them.
  • Spencer Sullivan
  • Spencer Sullivan - In the prime of his life, Spencer Sullivan was rendered a quadriplegic. It took the nursing board more than six years later to revoke the license of a nurse involved in his care. Read more. | LA Times Audio Slideshow
  • Caitlin Greenwell
  • Caitlin Greenwell - Caitlin Greenwell’s family alleges that she suffers from cerberal palsy because nurses neglected to monitor her during her birth. LA Times Audio Slideshow
  • Dr. Iraj Zandi
  • Dr. Iraj Zandi – During a surgery, Dr. Iraj Zandi discovered that a nurse had stolen painkiller drugs intended for his patient. He found out later that the nurse had been accused of pilfering drugs from a previous employer. Read more.
  • Veronica Glaubach
  • Veronica Glaubach – Veronica Glaubach’s nurses missed crucial signs of a life-threatening complication during and after childbirth, her family alleged. She died. The nursing board absolved the nurses. Read more.

We’ve written a guide to how we conducted our nurses investigation. Take a look for help in investigating your own state’s regulatory boards.


Get Updates

Our Hottest Stories