Thursday, May 28, 2009

New laws and rules (TPAPN, Substance Abuse, Psychiatric Examinations, Minor violations)

HB 3961 has been sent to the Governor for his signature, which will most likely occur. Every nurse needs to be familiar with this bill because of its impact on nursing practice. Especially if a nurse has or accused of having a substance abuse problem or a mental health issue or a physical impairment. The Legislature has granted many more regulator powers to the Board including immediate suspension of a nurse's license for violations of conditions of a Board Order.

IT IS CRITICAL that a nurse seek the advice of an experience administrative attorney prior to entering into an Order with the Board for a substance abuse problem or a mental health issue or a physical impairment. The best approach is to contact an attorney as soon as something arises so that the attorney can prepare your case and start your defense.

Unfortunately, HB 998 stalled in the House and so the procedure still allows the Boards to change an Administrative Law Judge's decision after a hearing.

A bright light is that SB 1415 has been signed into law. The first section of the law instructs the Board to set up a pilot program to evaluate a deferral of disciplinary action when a nurse has been a violation that does not rise to the level of a denial, suspension or revocation. The second section is even more interesting: the Board is instructed to adopt guidelines for violations types that can have a "corrective action" imposed. This corrective action would be a fine, remedial education or both. I see lots of cases where this could apply and it is going to be very important that a nurse get assistance from an administrative lawyer familiar with the Board in order to make sure that they do not miss out on the potential resolution. The bill takes effect on 9/1/09.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bill to defer BON disciplinary actions

According to the analysis of SB1415, "The 80th Legislature, Regular Session, 2007, passed S.B. 993, authored by Senator Nelson and sponsored by Representative McReynolds, in order to promote a less punitive regulatory environment for nurses who have committed minor violations and to have the Texas Board of Nursing (board) focus its disciplinary efforts and resources on nurses whose continued practice poses a risk of harm to patients. This legislation is in keeping with the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine's report, To Err Is Human and Keeping Patients Safe: Transforming the Work Environment of Nurses, which concluded that patient safety is best promoted by a regulatory environment which focuses more on system issues and less on individual blame for minor infractions.

Deferred disciplinary action is a decision made by the board to defer taking final disciplinary action against a nurse, and if the nurse meets certain conditions, dismissing the complaint. This bill would build on S.B. 993 by directing the board to determine the feasibility of conducting a pilot program to evaluate a model of deferred disciplinary action for minor violations, and if determined to be feasible, to conduct such a pilot program.

C.S.S.B. 1415 amends current law relating to certain corrective actions by the Texas Board of Nursing, including a pilot program on deferred disciplinary action, and provides corrective actions."

The bill has made it over the House's Public Health Committee. The Legislature is moving quickly on several bills and we are in the last few legs of the process. I am disappointed with several bills, but others look promising. More to come once the session is over.