California state senators are in need of a backbone infusion. They are bending under pressure from two public employee unions and lobby groups representing dentists and other health care providers. If lawmakers break, the losers will be patients of troubled nurses and other health professionals.
Nurses have difficult jobs, are vital to the medical profession and, for the most part, deserve our gratitude. But the state lacks tools to track those nurses and other providers who violate the public trust, as the journalism project ProPublica has revealed.
ProPublica documented instances of nurses intentionally hurting people, using drugs on the job, falsifying records and preying on people under their care. But California law has no requirement that employers report nurses who are guilty of malfeasance.
ProPublica reported that the state took three years to discipline bad nurses and that many with sordid pasts continued working.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was so distraught by the report that he sacked the board that oversees nurses, and asked Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino, to carry a bill to remedy the situation.
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