Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Washington State Disciplines Health Care Workers

by Matt Rosenberg March 8th, 2011

SUMMARY: The state of Washington last week announced it has indefinitely suspended the license of a registered nursing assistant working in the emergency department of Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland after he was reported for apparent intoxication and impairment by coworkers, then tested positive the same day for alcohol and methadone use, and later failed to respond to state charges of unprofessional conduct. Several new unprofessional conduct cases involving health care workers in Washington have entered the state’s disciplinary pipeline, including a nursing assistant at a Kent adult care family home whose actions allegedly prompted a choking episode involving an autistic, bi-polar resident; a nursing assistant in a Vancouver adult family home who allegedly rubbed a soiled diaper in a patient’s face; and a nursing assistant convicted in December in King County of first-degree theft from a victim described by the sentencing judge as “particularly vulnerable or incapable of resistance.”

BACKGROUND: On March 2, 2011, the Washington State Department of Health published notices of disciplinary actions taken last month affecting individual health care providers. Actions include charges of unprofessional conduct, placing a license or certification on probation or suspension, denying an application for certification or licensing, or lifting terms of probation or suspension. When a service provider is charged with unprofessional conduct, they have 20 days to respond in writing to the Department of Health, and then a settlement process begins. If no agreement can be reached on disciplinary action then the case goes to a hearing. At the department’s provider credential search engine – and using either the individual provider “identifier number” (given in monthly online notices of actions) or the name of the provider – you can check license or certification status, locate case-specific documents, and track outcomes.

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KEY FINDINGS:

The Washington State Department of Health last week announced disciplinary actions affecting 27 health care providers. Selected highlights follow.

  • The department announced last week that the credentials of registered nursing assistant Scott A. Kjorsvik of Kittitas County were indefinitely suspended in late January after he failed to respond within 20 days to charges of unprofessional conduct at Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland in May 2010. During a regularly scheduled shift in the emergency department, according the health department’s final order in his case, several other staffers noticed he appeared intoxicated and his conduct impaired, and he later that day tested positive in a urinalysis for alcohol and methadone. Although he was entitled to address the charges of unprofessional conduct, he failed to do so within the required 20 days, leading to the suspension of his credentials. (DOH Final Order).
  • Registered nursing assistant Nkole E. Mola was charged with unprofessional conduct last month for in February, 2008 allegedly causing an inadvertent choking incident leaving red and gasping for air a patient of the Mountain View House adult family care home in Kent, Wash. who had had autism, bi-polar disorder, aphasia and food aggression issues. The reaction occurred after she approached from behind and subdued the patient, then forcefully removed from the patient’s mouth a cookie that was not supposed to have been eaten. (DOH Statement of Charges).
  • Registered nursing assistant Alesha Kay Lair was charged with unprofessional conduct last month after a December 2010 conviction in King County Superior Court for first-degree theft, a Class B felony. The judgement and sentence included the statement that the defendant “knew or should have known that the victim…was particularly vulnerable or incapable of resistance.” (DOH Statement of Charges).
  • Nursing assistant Susan Meade has been charged with unprofessional conduct for in February 2009 allegedly rubbing a soiled disposable diaper into the face of a client at the Angel Brook Estates adult family home in Vancouver, Wash., and for between March and April 2009 calling that resident and another derogatory names a number of times. The state Department of Social and Health Services found she abused residents physically and mentally. (DOH Statement of Charges).

SUBSEQUENT COVERAGE: “Nursing Assistant Accused Of Patient Abuse,” KPTV, Portland, Ore., March 14, 2011

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