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Mandatory reporting assists the nursing care quality assurance commission (nursing commission) in protecting the public health and safety through the discovery of unsafe or substandard nursing practice or conduct. These rules are intended to define the information that is to be reported and the obligation of nurses and others to report.
The nursing commission does not intend every minor nursing error to be reported or that mandatory reporting serve as a substitute for employer-based disciplinary action.
Who must make reports and what must be reported to the nursing commission?
(1) Any person, including, but not limited to, registered nurses, practical nurses, advanced registered nurse practitioners, health care facilities and governmental agencies shall always report the following, except as provided for in subsections (2) and (3) of this section:
(a) Information that a nurse may not be able to practice with reasonable skill and safety as a result of a mental or physical condition;
(b) Information regarding a conviction, determination or finding, including employer-based disciplinary action, that a nurse has committed an act that would constitute unprofessional conduct, as defined in RCW 18.130.180
, including violations of chapter 246-840
WAC, including, but not limited to:
(i) Conviction of any crime or plea of guilty, including crimes against persons as defined in chapter 43.830
RCW [RCW 43.43.830
], and crimes involving the personal property of a patient, whether or not the crime relates to the practice of nursing;
(ii) Conduct which leads to dismissal from employment for cause related to unsafe nursing practice or conduct in violation of the standards of nursing;
(iii) Conduct which reasonably appears to be a contributing factor to the death of a patient;
(iv) Conduct which reasonably appears to be a contributing factor to the harm of a patient that requires medical intervention;
(v) Conduct which reasonably appears to violate accepted standards of nursing practice and reasonably appears to create a risk of physical and/or emotional harm to a patient;
(vi) Conduct involving a pattern of repeated acts or omissions of a similar nature in violation of the standards of nursing that reasonably appears to create a risk to a patient;
(vii) Drug trafficking;
(viii) Conduct involving the misuse of alcohol, controlled substances or legend drugs, whether or not prescribed to the nurse, where such conduct is related to nursing practice or violates any other drug or alcohol-related nursing commission law;
(ix) Conduct involving sexual contact with a patient under RCW 18.130.180
(24) or other sexual misconduct in violation of nursing commission law under WAC 246-840-740
(x) Conduct involving patient abuse, including physical, verbal and emotional;
(xi) Conduct indicating unfitness to practice nursing or that would diminish the nursing profession in the eyes of the public;
(xii) Conduct involving fraud related to nursing practice;
(xiii) Conduct involving practicing beyond the scope of the nurse's license;
(xiv) Nursing practice, or offering to practice, without a valid nursing permit or license, including practice on a license lapsed for nonpayment of fees;
(xv) Violation of a disciplinary sanction imposed on a nurse's license by the nursing commission.
(2) Persons who work in federally funded substance abuse treatment programs are exempt from these mandatory reporting requirements to the extent necessary to comply with 42 C.F.R. Part 2.
(3) Persons who work in approved substance abuse monitoring programs under RCW 18.130.175
are exempt from these mandatory reporting rules to the extent required to comply with RCW 18.130.175
(3) and WAC 246-840-780
How is a report made to the nursing commission?
(4) In providing reports to the nursing commission, a person may call the nursing commission office for technical assistance in submitting a report. Reports are to be submitted in writing and include the name of the nurse, licensure identification, if available, the name of the facility, the names of any patients involved, a brief summary of the specific concern which is the basis for the report, and the name, address and telephone number of the individual submitting the report.
(5) Failure of any licensed nurse to comply with these reporting requirements may constitute grounds for discipline under chapter 18.130
What are the criteria for whistleblower protection?
(6) Whistleblower criteria is defined in chapter 246-15
WAC and RCW 43.70.075
[Statutory Authority: RCW 18.79.110
. WSR 00-01-186, § 246-840-730, filed 12/22/99, effective 1/22/00. Statutory Authority: Chapter 18.79
RCW. WSR 97-13-100, § 246-840-730, filed 6/18/97, effective 7/19/97.]