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New nursing oversight board pledges overhaul of troubled system

July 26, 2009 |  2:34 pm

The board that oversees California nurses met today for the first time since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced most of its members, and the board pledged an overhaul of the troubled system that polices nurse misconduct.

But the Board of Registered Nursing took no action to address major shortcomings in oversight that came to light this month in an investigation by The Times and the nonprofit news organization ProPublica.

Some nurses worked while intoxicated, stole drugs from bedridden patients and falsified records to cover their tracks, the investigation found. It takes more than three years, on average, to resolve complaints.

The board plans to hold a hearing Monday about troubles in the disciplinary system. Several new members said today that they needed to gather more information before deciding what reforms to put in place.

“Nurses are being allowed to practice who clearly should not be providing patient care,” said Ann L. Boynton, one of the new members. “It’s clear something has to be done.”

-- Michael Finnegan