United Nurses state secretary testifies before California Board of Registered Nursing – August 12, 2009

August 2009

Sacramento, CA - Barbara Blake, RN, state secretary of the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC/UHCP) testified today at the Board of Registered Nursing to show support for the Board's recent report to the California's Department of Consumer Affairs and to highlight some preliminary recommendations moving forward as public hearings continue on BRN enforcement concerns.

"Case analysts must currently manage 400 to 600 cases each, which is both unmanageable and unacceptable," said Blake. "The BRN cannot feasibly meet its obligations as a licensing board if staff members are buried under insurmountable caseloads and further backlogged by state furloughs. New enforcement staff must be added and furloughs for this short-staffed licensing board must be halted."

Blake also advocated for the current attention and pressure on the BRN to be measured carefully, stating that cracks within the health care system must be considered when exploring the facts around complaints, rather than laying full blame of every situation on any one individual.

"In the grand scheme of things, harm to even one patient is harm to one patient too many. However, each case that comes before the BRN must be considered on its own merits because a complaint does not necessarily equal an offense," commented Blake. "Additionally, any actions the BRN takes on complaints should contain an element of remediation, rather than a solely punitive response. Assuring due process for each registered nurse, however, should not sacrifice expediency."

As part of the BRN's efforts to increase its access to resources, Board members considered amending Title 16 regulatory language to increase the registered nursing licensing fees. Blake remarked that an increase in fees would require a greater level of accountability for those funds.

"UNAC/UHCP is not averse to the idea of the Board raising the licensing fee, which has not changed for many years, and we believe our members would be open to the idea of a modest increase," stated Blake. "However, important questions such as how much the potential increase could be and how the additional funds would be utilized must be answered before such an action is taken."