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Thursday, May 31st, 2012 2:36 pm
Murphy Jones LLP has filed a civil complaint in the District Court of Nevada on behalf of nurse Jessica Rice, RN against Sunrise Hospital Medical Center, et. al., for Defamation, Wrongful Termination, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Negligence, Conspiracy, Civil RICO violations and Fraud in relation to an ongoing dispute arising from Sunrise Hospital’s allegations of “intentional patient harm” against infant patients in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
On July 2, 2010, two-month old baby Miowne Obote died from complications stemming from a disrupted catheter line. Sunrise Hospital requested that the Las Vegas Metro Police Dept. investigate fourteen (14) incidents of disrupted catheters, and the subsequent police investigation has not led to any criminal charges being filed. The Clark County Coroner has admitted that his initial determination that the death was a homocide was not supported by any County Coroner investigation and instead he relied on the conclusion of the allegedly flawed analysis by an expert that Sunrise Hospital hired.
Subsequently, both Ms. Rice, and another NICU nurse were summarily suspended from nursing practice by the Nevada Board of Nursing. After an independent investigation, the Nevada Board of Nursing found no evidence of wrongdoing and reinstated both nurses’ licenses. (“Fired Sunrise nurse files suit,” Harasim 5/31/12, Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
Sunrise Hospital terminated the employment of both of nurses based on an alleged policy violation. The nurses’ union, (Service Employees International Union of Nevada; i.e., SEIU NV), filed a grievance against the hospital for wrongful termination. In December 2011, the Federal Arbitrator found in favor of Ms. Rice and issued an Order requiring Sunrise Hospital to reinstate Ms. Rice to her former position in the NICU and awarded her back pay. To date, Sunrise Hospital has refused to comply with the Arbitrator’s decision. The nurses’ union (SEIU) has filed a lawsuit in Federal Court seeking to enforce the Arbitrator’s decision.
The civil Complaint filed by Murphy Jones LLP on behalf of Ms. Rice on May 29, 2012, alleges that Sunrise Hospital was made aware of “at least thirteen (13) incidents involving intravenous catheter lines, in which the catheters became separated in two (2) of the incidents…interrupting the flow of fluids through the catheter. After two (2) catheter incidents resulted in harm or potential harm to infants in May 2010, Defendants intentionally, and/or with reckless disregard for the truth and/or negligently began a course of conduct that focused aggressively on employee Plaintiff Jessica Rice as the presumed suspect for the cause of the catheter incidents, labeled her as a ‘person of interest,’ terminated her from her employment without just cause, exposed her to public contempt, ridicule and disgrace and induced evil opinion of her.”
Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 4:55 pm
Democrat and Republican senators are seeking a national investigation regarding state medical boards' disciplinary actions. Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Charlie Grassley (R-Iowa) have submitted a request letter to the director of the Office of the Inspector General for the Dept. of Health seeking a federal investigation into state medical boards.
The senators' letter states, "With the adoption of advanced medical technologies...and an increase in physicians holding licenses in two or more states, it is becoming increasingly important that states issue timely board actions and coordinate licensure actions to protect the public from unqualified or marginally proficient practitioners." (Walker, MedPage Today 2/21/12). The senators cite a Public Citizen, a consumer organization, report which finds that less then one-half of the 10,672 doctors listed in the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) have been disciplined by their licensing state medical board.
A federal investigation could have wide ranging ramifications relating to increased disciplinary actions being filed and increased delays in state medical board administrative proceedings. The attorneys at Murphy Jones LLP are monitoring the situation and will continue to report on the investigation request as new information becomes available.
Tuesday, September 13th, 2011 4:25 pm
The California Board of Chiropractic Examiners has recently adopted Informed Consent requirements which compel chiropractors to obtain patients' consent after being fully informed of any potential risk of harm to the patient in relation to medical treatment. The new legislation takes effect on October 7, 2011, and will require informed consent both orally and in writing prior to the performance of chiropractic clinical care. Violation of the new law will constitute unprofessional conduct which will very likely lead to the Board of Chiropractic Examiners to initiate disciplinary proceedings against practitioners who fail to adhere to the requirements. (Dynamic Chiropractic, California Board of Chiropractic Examiners, 9/12/11)
Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 12:41 pm
The Supreme Court of the United States has taken no action on Virginia Attorney General's request to expedite the resolution of the pending Healthcare Reform Legislation litigation, in attempt to skip appellate judicial review despite President Obama's objection. "High court takes no action on Va. health care case" (Associated Press, 4/19/11)
Thursday, December 2nd, 2010 3:19 pm
Recent high profile media attention has been focused on Sunrise Hospital’s allegations that two nurses were intentionally “disrupting catheters” in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit of Sunrise Children’s Hospital. Murphy Jones LLP successfully defended one of the accused nurses, Jessica Rice, who voluntarily placed her nursing license on “Inactive Status” during the investigation by Las Vegas Metro Police and the Nevada State Board of Nursing. Subsequently, the investigation has failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing of any nurses, both nurses have had their licenses reinstated and the police have not filed any criminal charges.
For further information relating to the case, please see:
Las Vegas Channel 8 News story wherein Attorney Kathleen Jones is interviewed and speaks about her client, Jessica Rice, who was wrongfully accused of cutting catheters in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit of Sunrise Children’s Hospital, the inadequate investigation by Sunrise Hospital and the wrongful termination of the nurses.
Las Vegas Channel 8 News story describing that the accused nurses had their licenses reinstated after the Nursing Board’s investigation, and the police investigation, because their was no evidence of wrongdoing of either nurse.
Las Vegas Channel 8 News story explaining that the Sunrise Hospital investigation of the ‘disrupted catheters,’ and the report that prompted the criminal investigation, was inadequate and failed to produce any conclusive findings. Sunrise Hospital hired a “metallurgist” (specialist in metals) to examine the rubber catheters. The investigation did not examine whether a product failure was the cause, and the hospital requested the expert to state whether or not the lines could have been cut and not to determine the cause of the catheter failures. The Las Vegas Metro Police investigation into ‘intentional disruption’ was based in part on the findings of Sunrise’s investigation.
Las Vegas Review Journal newspaper Nov. 7, 2010 ”Babies’ deaths haunt Sunrise nurses” wherein Attorney Kathleen Jones is quoted regarding Sunrise Hospital’s failure to properly investigate.
Las Vegas Review Journal newspaper Nov. 21, 2010 article “Safety shortcomings spotted in Sunrise catheter case” wherein Debora Simmons, head of the Houston-based National Center for Cognitive Informatics and Decision Making in Healthcare said, ”This is a failure of hospital leadership…We’re talking about a culture where tolerance of patient harm was allowed to develop…You have to fix a problem before you kill somebody.” Ms. Simmons went on to say, “They (Sunrise officials) should have recognized that they didn’t have the expertise to deal with this right away…The way they handled this was a tragedy.”
Las Vegas Review Journal newspaper Jan. 17, 2011 article “Hospital Warned about evidence in catheter case” describing that Sunrise Hospital officials have been warned not to ”destroy, conceal, and/or alter any evidence” surrounding catheter failures at the institution.” The catheter failures led to one infant’s death and another infant patient needed a life-saving operation as a result of a separate catheter failure. Attorney George Kelesis was quoted as saying, ”Unfortunately, Sunrise has been known to get rid of evidence that may hurt them before they go to court” in reference to a 2004 $5 million medical malpractice lawsuit which made it to the Nevada Supreme Court in which Sunrise Hospital “had a duty to preserve anesthesia equipment used in patient’s surgery” and sold the equipment in question instead of preserving it for inspection.
Monday, July 12th, 2010 1:18 pm
The California Board of Medicine makes Accusations against physicians available to the public. Check Doctor License status here. The Medical Board's search system has been touted as one of the best in the country [Dahlberg, Sacramento Bee 7/12/10]. Patients seeking to learn more about their doctors/potential doctors can easily view discipline Accusations lodged against physicians, which can lead to a more informed decision.
However, medical professionals, healthcare practitioner advocacy groups and defense attorneys protest the disclosure of Accusations prior to any final action being taken against a physician. The exposure of Accusations, prior to any final action being taken, creates a situation where a doctor can be judged on the basis of unproven complaints or allegations.
The ultimate goal is to protect the public, and allow patients to access a practitioners' history, while simultaneously protecting physician privacy and due process rights under the law. The disclosure of unsubstantiated Accusations has the potential to mis-inform patients and ruin reputations of healthcare professionals, but also allows patients to make more informed decisions based on the nature of the allegations. It is a "Catch 22" for everyone involved, but the physicians bear the brunt of the detriment to their careers and profession if patients make judgements based on untruthful accusations.
Sunday, February 21st, 2010 1:20 pm
California Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi has publicly criticized the California Board of Pharmacy for supporting legislation that allegedly conflicts with the Board of Pharmacy’s duty to regulate pharmacy operations and it’s duty to protect the public. As healthcare attorneys who defend pharmacists in disciplinary investigations and proceedings before the Office of Administrative Hearings, we are very concerned and interested in preserving impartiality of the Board of Pharmacy during the development of legislation making it easier for the public to get flu shots.
The Board of Pharmacy is endowed with the power to regulate the profession, discipline pharmacists who violate their duties, and to protect the public. The legislation in question is designed to expand the ability of pharmacists, especially independent operators, to provide flu vaccinations to Californians. Assemblywoman Hayashi has publicly stated, “Their (the Board of Pharmacy) legislative actions on behalf of the profession they are supposed to regulate have raised questions about industry influence, which compromises their role as a regulator.” Assemblywoman Hayashi has introduced legislation, Assembly Bill 2104 (AB 2104), designed to require the California Board of Pharmacy to secure approval from the California Department of Consumer Affairs before sponsoring legislation.
Currently, none of the California Boards (Board of Medicine, Board of Registered Nursing, Board of Dental Examiners, Board of Occupational Therapy, Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians, Board of Chiropractic Examiners, etc.) are required to seek approval by the Dept. of Consumer Affairs prior to sponsoring legislation. Other lawmakers criticize Assemblywoman Hayashi”s AB 2104 for only focusing on the Board of Pharmacy. “What’s good for one board should be good for all the boards.” said Bob Stern, President of the Center for Governmental Studies.
Assemblywoman is a former member of the California Board of Registered Nursing, which opposed the flu vaccine legislation, Assembly Bill 977 (AB 977) in 2009. Many nurses are still worried about the procedures for providing flu vaccinations to the public. AB 977 passed the California State Assembly in January 2010 and is currently pending action in the California State Senate.
For a full account see: Sacramento Bee article
Review legislation at: California State Assembly legislative inquiry
Thursday, August 20th, 2009 6:25 pm
California Board of Nursing replacements were elected August 12, 2009, and discussed raising licensing fees in 2010 and addressing the backlog of disciplinary actions. New Board members meet with the committees today in Sacramento.
Nursing Licensure fees have not been altered for the past 18 years, and will be increased by almost 50%. The increase in fees is necessary to fund the 63 positions created to handle complaints and investigate disciplinary actions. Renewal rates will increase to $150 (+ an additional $10 for the RN Educational Fund), interim & temporary license fees will rise to $50, and initial fees for NPs, nurse midwives, CNAs and clinical nurse specialists will also cost $150. The Board moved to support the increase of fees and will set a public hearing date shortly. The soonest the Board could vote on the increased fee schedule is November 2009.
Gov. Schwarzenegger appointed Brian Stiger as the new director of the Dept. of Consumer Affairs. Stiger has ordered an internal review of the Cal. Board of Nursing disciplinary process, and reform is a top priority. Stiger’s goal is to streamline the process so that complaints are investigated, prosecuted and resolved within a 12 – 18 month timeframe.
Sunday, July 19th, 2009 7:27 pm
Murphy Jones LLP has created a Twitter account generating tweets providing up to the minute news and developments relating to professional practice of medicine, the nursing profession, State Boards of Nursing, medical malpractice litigation impacting professionals’ rights and responsibilities, and other interesting legal developments in the healthcare industry. With our administrative law healthcare attorneys staying informed of trends, changes in the law and case precedent, we post information relevant to medical practitioners and the legal industry.
Visit us at http://twitter.com/NurseAttorneys , and start following today to keep informed about recent developments.