While the Board of Nursing may not try to change the Nurse Practice Act, nurses still have hope that it will be amended. Several members of Nurse Advocates for Safe Practice met recently with the legislative committee of the Colorado Nurses Association, the state's professional organization for registered nurses. The committee wants to study other states' nurse practice acts before deciding whether to revamp the disciplinary section of Colorado's. The CNA could authorize the study at its annual convention this week.
If a task force charged with conducting the study recommends changes to the act by its May 2000 deadline, the CNA will then vote on whether to lobby the state legislature for a bill that incorporates the changes.
Judith Burke, president of the Colorado Nurses Association, wouldn't say whether she thinks the Nurse Practice Act needs changing. "If we knew it needed to be changed, we wouldn't be forming a task force to look into it," she says.
Members of Nurse Advocates for Safe Practice originally went to the CNA with their concerns about the Nurse Practice Act two years ago. "They had valid concerns about the process of investigating complaints and about the length of time it takes to resolve them, so we met with the board, and they heard our concerns," Burke says, adding that the CNA worked with the Board of Nursing to pass the recent law.
"We're pleased that the board heard us and took action to improve their process. We're monitoring the outcomes of the improved process to ensure that they are, in fact, improvements and that they solve the nurses' concerns," Burke says. "We need to give the changes the board has made time to be implemented."
With the board's recent efforts to give nurses a fair shake, it seems nurses would be breathing a collective sigh of relief. But they aren't. And they won't until the Nurse Practice Act is changed.
"Until they take out mandatory reporting for employers," says Teresa, the nurse who was turned in for leaving the bed rail down, "the amount of frivolous complaints that make it to the board won't diminish."