Report 2016-046 Recommendations

When an audit is completed and a report is issued, auditees must provide the State Auditor with information regarding their progress in implementing recommendations from our reports at three intervals from the release of the report: 60 days, six months, and one year. Additionally, Senate Bill 1452 (Chapter 452, Statutes of 2006), requires auditees who have not implemented recommendations after one year, to report to us and to the Legislature why they have not implemented them or to state when they intend to implement them. Below, is a listing of each recommendation the State Auditor made in the report referenced and a link to the most recent response from the auditee addressing their progress in implementing the recommendation and the State Auditor's assessment of auditee's response based on our review of the supporting documentation.

Recommendations in Report 2016-046: Board of Registered Nursing: Significant Delays and Inadequate Oversight of the Complaint Resolution Process Have Allowed Some Nurses Who May Pose a Risk to Patient Safety to Continue Practicing (Release Date: December 2016)

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Recommendations to Legislature
Number Recommendation Status
1

To ensure that BRN receives timely and consistent notification of nurses' alleged violations of the Nursing Act, the Legislature should require the employers of registered nurses to report to BRN the suspension, termination, or resignation of any registered nurse due to alleged violations of the Nursing Act.

2

If BRN does not develop and implement an action plan by March 1, 2017, to prioritize and resolve its deficiencies, as mentioned in the first recommendation to BRN, the Legislature should consider transferring BRN's enforcement responsibilities to Consumer Affairs.

3

The Legislature should amend state law to require BRN to conduct investigations of complaints alleging substance abuse or mental illness against nurses who choose to enter the intervention program.

Recommendations to Registered Nursing, Board of
Number Recommendation Status
4

To ensure that it promptly addresses this report's findings, BRN should work with Consumer Affairs to develop an action plan by March 1, 2017, to prioritize and resolve the deficiencies we identified.

Fully Implemented
5

To ensure that BRN resolves complaints regarding nurses in a timely manner, by March 1, 2017, it should develop and implement formal policies that specify required time frames for each key stage of the complaint resolution process, including time frames for how quickly complaints should be assigned to the proper investigative unit or expert witness, and how long the investigation process should take. BRN should also work with DOI to establish a reasonable goal for the length of time DOI's investigators take to conduct investigations of complaints referred to it by BRN.

Partially Implemented
6

To ensure that BRN resolves complaints regarding nurses in a timely manner, by March 1, 2017, it should establish a formal, routine process for management to monitor each key stage of the complaint resolution process to determine whether the time frames are being met, the reasons for any delays, and any areas in the process that it can improve.

Partially Implemented
7

To ensure that BRN resolves complaints regarding nurses in a timely manner, by March 1, 2017, it should establish a plan to eliminate its backlog of complaints awaiting assignment to an investigator.

Partially Implemented
8

To increase its pool of expert witnesses, by June 2017, BRN should develop and implement a process to track the effectiveness of the methods it uses to recruit expert witnesses, and then focus its efforts on those methods that prove to be the most successful.

Pending
9

To increase its pool of expert witnesses, by June 2017, BRN should modify its renewal application process for nurses' licenses to include a question regarding whether they would be interested in serving as an expert witness, and then develop a process to promptly follow-up with those nurses.

Pending
10

To increase its pool of expert witnesses, by June 2017, BRN should take the steps necessary to increase the hourly wage it pays expert witnesses.

Pending
11

To ensure it does not risk compromising private and confidential information related to ongoing investigations of complaints, BRN should immediately ensure that any email correspondence it has with expert witnesses is transmitted securely.

Partially Implemented
12

To ensure that it is able to accurately monitor the performance of its complaint resolution process and that it has accurate data to address its staffing needs, BRN should immediately begin working with Consumer Affairs to implement cost-effective input controls for BreEZe that will require BRN staff members to enter information into a complaint record in a way that is consistent with BRN's business processes, as well as to implement changes that would cause BreEZe to accurately identify the order in which activities occur.

Pending
13

To ensure that it is able to accurately monitor the performance of its complaint resolution process and that it has accurate data to address its staffing needs, once it has implemented cost-effective input controls for BreEZe and accumulated six months of data, BRN should analyze these data to determine whether its staffing is sufficient to meet its workload.

Pending
14

To ensure that it is able to accurately monitor the performance of its complaint resolution process and that it has accurate data to address its staffing needs, BRN should develop and implement training for all BRN complaint processing staff that instructs them on how to accurately enter information in complaint records that are contained in BreEZe, including the date BRN received the complaint, in a manner that is consistent with BRN's business processes.

Partially Implemented
15

BRN should immediately comply with state law and adhere to the revised CPEI guidelines that DOI issued in August 2016. Additionally, BRN should establish and maintain a process for communicating with DOI to discuss any questions that arise in assigning a priority to a complaint or referring a complaint to the proper investigative unit.

Partially Implemented
16

To ensure that BRN and DOI consistently conduct adequate investigations and obtain sufficient and appropriate evidence to discipline nurses accused of violating the Nursing Act if warranted, BRN in collaboration with Consumer Affairs should implement a mechanism by March 2017 to track and monitor supplemental investigation requests that result from investigators' failure to obtain required documentation or sufficient evidence and use this information to mitigate the causes of these failures.

Partially Implemented
17

To ensure that BRN and DOI consistently conduct adequate investigations and obtain sufficient and appropriate evidence to discipline nurses accused of violating the Nursing Act if warranted, BRN in collaboration with Consumer Affairs should coordinate with the Attorney General to develop a biennial training program that includes techniques for gathering appropriate evidence and ensure that all investigators, including DOI's investigators, participate in this training.

Pending
18

To ensure that BRN and DOI consistently conduct adequate investigations and obtain sufficient and appropriate evidence to discipline nurses accused of violating the Nursing Act if warranted, BRN in collaboration with Consumer Affairs should use this training program to develop a procedural guide that specifies proper evidence-gathering techniques, including a description of what constitutes sufficient evidence, for investigators to follow when investigating complaints. They should then distribute this guide to all investigators, including DOI's investigators, by December 2017, and jointly instruct them to adhere to the guide when conducting investigations.

Pending
19

To ensure that its enforcement unit employees appropriately address and process complaints in a consistent and efficient manner, by March 2017, BRN should develop a process to centrally track the internal and external trainings its staff participate in. On a regular basis, managers should review this information to ensure enforcement staff are participating in a timely manner in appropriate trainings that address the enforcement activities they specifically perform and the types of complaints they may investigate.

Partially Implemented
20

To ensure that its enforcement unit employees appropriately address and process complaints in a consistent and efficient manner, BRN should implement a formal training program no later than December 2017. In developing this program, BRN should consult with DOI and the Attorney General to identify training that could benefit its enforcement staff, and also solicit input of its enforcement staff on areas of their job duties where they believe they need additional training.

Pending
21

BRN should immediately stop overriding fingerprint holds in BreEZe based solely on the fact that fingerprint data is present in BRN's legacy system and, for those cases where it believes it is necessary to override the system, BRN should receive its executive officer's approval to do so and document both the reason for the override and evidence of the executive officer's approval.

Partially Implemented
22

BRN should continue working with Justice and Consumer Affairs and finalize its reconciliation, by March 1, 2017, of Justice's fingerprint data with its data in BreEZe to identify any nurses who are missing fingerprint records. Once this reconciliation is performed, BRN must take the steps necessary to immediately obtain fingerprints from those nurses for which Justice has no fingerprint records.

Pending
23

To ensure that it has prompt access to adequate information that could affect the status of a nurse's license, by June 2017, BRN should establish formal agreements with other agencies and other health boards that have information pertaining to a nurse's misconduct.

Pending
24

To ensure that it has prompt access to adequate information that could affect the status of a nurse's license, by June 2017, BRN should work with Consumer Affairs and other health boards to determine whether modifying BreEZe to include a capability that would allow it to promptly notify BRN when another health board receives a complaint or takes disciplinary action against a licensed nurse is cost-effective. If it is, add this functionality to BreEZe.

Fully Implemented
25

To ensure that it promptly and appropriately sends notifications to complainants as state law requires, by March 2017, BRN should develop desk procedures that describe the actions enforcement staff members should take when processing incoming complaints and when BRN reaches a final disposition on a case.

Fully Implemented
26

To ensure that it promptly and appropriately sends notifications to complainants as state law requires, by March 2017, BRN should establish formal procedures, such as managers performing routine audits of complaint files, to monitor incoming complaints and final dispositions.

Partially Implemented


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