Orange County Nurses Among Those the State Deemed "Public Safety Threats" Because of Drug Addictions

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Marcin Tusinski
Remember the series of stories we shared about the Hungtington Beach plastic surgeon who had a penchant for red wine and accumulating DUIs? And remember how California's Medical Board egregiously allowed that doctor (and many like him) to keep practicing medicine despite his having failed out of its secretive drug diversion program (which was shut down last year after repeated failed audits)?

Turns out doctors like Brian West, who the state Medical Board allowed to keep practicing medicine for years while he struggled with alcoholism, and then lagged on disciplining him once medical accusations were filed, aren't the only ones who the state was turning a blind eye to. The state's Board of Registered Nursing has also lagged when it comes to disciplining nurses addicted to drugs who have failed that board's drug diversion program, according to an exhaustive investigative report released this week by ProPublica. The most flagrant cases involved instances of nurses stealing drugs from hospitals, and shooting up in their cars or during surgery with painkiller medications intended for patients.

In the most severe cases, nurses were deemed a "public risk" or "public safety threat" after flunking out of the drug diversion program that had allowed them to keep working, and keep their drug problem under wraps, as long as they promised to stay sober. The ProPublica investigation found that the time between when those nurses were identified as a risk to the public and when a formal medical accusation was filed by the board was often several years. In the meantime, those nurses continued to see patients, relapse and in some instances, were arrested. Of the 81 nurses the investigation identified as having been deemed a safety risk to patients between 2002 and 2008, five were from Orange County. Their names and the number of days they worked after having been deemed unsafe without the board filing an accusation are listed after the jump...


Susan Michelle Stump
07/29/04: Date she was deemed a risk to the public.
12/19/06: Date the board finally filed an accusation. (Days elapsed: 873)
04/25/08: Date her case was decided; she was put on probation.

Anette H. Ekelius
02/28/02: Date she was deemed a risk to the public.
01/15/04: Date the board finally filed an accusation. (Days elapsed: 686)
8/30/04: Date her case was decided; her license was revoked.

Cliff Lowden Murray
12/05/02: Date he was deemed a risk to the public.
06/03/04: Date the board finally filed an accusation. (Days elapsed: 546)
02/28/05: Date her case was decided; his license was revoked.

Deborah Starr Briones
12/12/03: Date she was deemed a risk to the public.
03/18/05: Date the board finally filed an accusation.(Days elapsed: 462)   
09/06/05: Date her case was decided; her license was revoked.

Shannon Farrell
8/31/07: Date she was deemed a risk to the public.
9/23/08: Date the board finally filed an accusation.(Days elapsed: 389)

Laura Lee Robinson
09/30/05: Date she was deemed a risk to the public.
09/29/06: Date the board finally filed an accusation.(Days elapsed: 364)
03/24/08: Date her case was decided; she received a suspension/probation

Melissa M. Sepulveda
11/21/07: Date she was deemed a risk to the public.     
6/24/08: Date the board finally filed an accusation.(Days elapsed:216)    
01/02/09: Date her case was decided; her license was revoked.

*Click here to see the full list of 81 nurses.


  


















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