If you haven't seen the recent Minneapolis Star Tribune articles about nursing discipline in Minnesota, I strongly advise that you check out both.  The initial October 7, 2013 article, In Minnesota, Nurses in Trouble Get Second Chances, focused primarily on the Board of Nursing. The November 4, 2013 article, Special Report: Addicted Nurses Keep Licenses, turned its guns on the Health Professionals Services Program (HPSP), which serves all Minnesota licensed health care professionals by providing monitoring services as an alternative to traditional board discipline. 

I say “turned its guns” because in my opinion, both present an incomplete picture of the Minnesota Board of Nursing, HPSP, and nursing discipline in our state.  They call for the stigmatization and criminalization of addiction and mental illness, approaches that have clearly been proven unsuccessful in other venues. They also call for automatic revocation for certain behaviors—what amounts to a strict liability standard—an approach that is completely contrary to the current trend in patient safety and quality improvement, where disclosure, apology and transparent communication have been proven successful.  And last, but not least, does anyone actually imagine that these issues exist only within nursing, as opposed to all health care professions?

Be sure to also check out the response to the October article penned by my nurse attorney colleague, Teresa J. Ayling. In her response, Weigh Nursing Errors in Their Full Context, Terry makes the point that nurses are human and as such, they are going to make mistakes.  I love how she points out that very few people would put the time, effort and expense into a nursing degree if they thought that they could lose it because of “one mistake—one bad day.”

Attend the Joint Committee Meeting

In response to the Star Tribune articles, Minnesota Senator Kathy Sheran, Chair of the Health, Human Services & Housing Committee, called for a public hearing. As a result, on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 12:30PM in Room 10 of the State Office Building, there will be a joint meeting of the Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing and the House Committee on Health and Human Services Policy. Review of the Board of Nursing's licensing and disciplinary processes is on the agenda. The committees will hear oral testimony from the Board of Nursing and the Department of Human Services. 

Make Your Voice Heard

Written testimony from other interested parties will be distributed to all committee members.  So, please, share your opinion! Submit your written testimony, in pdf form by 4PM on November 12, 2013 to Chelseal.Magadance@senate.mn.  Chelsea’s phone is  651.296.4151.  If you don’t have time to write testimony, consider calling the Senate or House Committee members. 

There is much more to be said about both articles, and most likely about the two articles that I hear are yet-to-be-published.  However, in order to get this out today I am going to leave it at that for now. Stay tuned for an update after the hearing.