Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Stay Informed

Be sure to read my post about what is happening at the Medical Board because it might affect the Texas Nursing Board.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Questions the BON Asks

The Texas Board of Nursing has changed their questions on licensure renewals and applications for licensure. For renewals, they stopped asking if a nurse has "ever" been convicted...and now ask if a criminal action has taken place within the past 24 months or since the last renewal. For both renewals and applications, the Board has phrased the question in bullet point format. They included military actions and a broad question about being "cited or charged with any violation of the law."

The Board finally quit asking nurses to disclose expunged and sealed offenses, but they are putting the burden on nurses to ensure that the criminal activity has truly been expunged. This is a big problem in that people are frequently told their criminal history has been expunged when in fact, it has not. So, be sure that you have proof of the expungement in the form of a copy of the Court Order expunging and/or sealing the offense(s). The Board recommends that a nurse provide a copy of this Court Order along with your renewal or application. However, they do not require it. So, before providing expunged or sealed information to the Board, it would be prudent to discuss the matter with an attorney to determine whether just having a copy of the Court Order is enough and that you do not need to provide that copy to the Board.

The Board has also added a question about whether the nurse is "currently the target or subject of a grand jury or governmental agency investigation." Remember to read the questions very carefully and seek legal advice when there are any questions. The Board considers non-disclosure, even when done in error, to be potential deception and subject to action.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Think For Yourself and Question All

I was driving home last night listening to a talk radio show. On the show the host was discussing whether a woman that had a mastectomy due to a misdiagnoses should be allowed to sue the doctor for a simple error. The host continued his discussion stating that simple errors should not be cause for litigation and that since the doctor did not intend to misdiagnose the woman, the doctor should not be sued. The host was getting very animated with each caller, discussing how he never sues anyone and that we are all litigation happy. The various callers were discussing how they would either only give the woman the cost of a "boob job" or give her nothing. The host was using all of this to continue to project how we need reforms and that lawsuits cost us all. He would spend a great deal of time with the callers that were agreeing with his premise of too many lawsuits, continuing to ask them questions to draw out more discussion about how this woman deserved no or little money.

I had heard the woman earlier that day describing what had happened and knew that the talk show host had key facts wrong. I called in and waited to talk to the host.
Since there had been discussion about the most this woman should expect to compensated was for the cost of a simple "boob job," I felt compelled when I FINALLY got on the air to discuss this misconception. I explained that the woman was facing extensive reconstructive surgery , not a simple breast enlargement and that her breasts would never be the same as they were before. I explained that women can have significant complications after reconstructive surgery so there was nothing simple about it.

I then proceeded to tell the host that this was not a simple error involving a doctor, instead it was a lab cutting corners and performing multiple tests at once to save money. And that due to the cutting corners, two women have been injured - the one who had the mastectomy and did not have cancer and the woman who did have cancer and has gone untreated for many months. The host then made a statement that surely I was in favor of cutting costs. When I replied, No, not when it ends up inflicting damage on people and I also added that there are continued cost cutting even when the corporate revenues are up and that patients are the ones being harmed and they have no recourse in many situations, but I was hung up on so that it seemed that my last statement was No, not when it ends up inflicting damage on people.

So, the radio station/host was editing people's comments to promote their agenda of too many lawsuits. Instead of allowing me to discuss the issue completely, they hung up on my call. I continued to listen and noticed that I could often pick out exactly when they hung up on other callers that disagreed with the host.

I thought here is another example of how the media is crafting what we hear and see to lead us to their ideas. They are not interested in the truth, but rather what makes better entertainment. I have been present when a person was interviewed for a story, yet when I watch the interview on TV the context is vastly different than what the reality was.

Once again, as nurses you have a scientific mind and you should utilize that mind to question what you are told and shown. Be an individual and investigate the truth. Make up your own minds and take action based on what you know to be right. Others are looking to you to be a leader or at least completely informed. Just because a co-worker, or administrator, or physician or a talk show host tells you something, you must decide for yourself what is correct. If you do not have enough information to determine what is the truth, investigate it until you are an informed nurse.

Just my thoughts, you can disagree, but then again that is the point--question and think for yourself!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Diaster Planning

I just saw an ad on TV for people to learn about disaster planning for an pandemic. So, my question of the day for nurses - Are you prepared in case of a disaster? I don't mean if your employer has a disaster plan (let's hope they do). I am asking if you have a disaster plan for you and your family. Nurses are going to be heavily relied upon if a disaster strikes and you must be prepared on the home front. If you are tied up assisting, what is your family going to do? Do you have enough food, water? Do you have a communication plan? Will you have to go in to work or report to a regional site? Who will watch your kids? Is your spouse/significant other aware of the plan? What if you have to evacuate your family? your pets?

There are multiple sites with checklists that help to address these issues and help with planning. Be sure to do this today. And while you are at it, don't forget to draft a will.