In a letter this week to more than 20,000 nursing union members, the president of the Minnesota Nurses Association said recent Star Tribune stories about nursing discipline unfairly tarnish all nurses.
“The cases reported by the newspaper are disturbing but also very limited,” wrote Linda Hamilton, who has been president of the state’s largest nurses union since 2009. “It would be a disservice to good nurses everywhere to let this smear campaign gain a groundswell.”
MNA spokesman Rick Fuentes said Wednesday that the union has heard from members who say they are concerned that the stories affect their workplaces.
“When you start labeling nurses as diverting, it makes it seem like they are all like that,” Fuentes said. “That’s not fair.”
In an analysis of thousands of Minnesota Board of Nursing records, the Star Tribune has reported how some nurses have kept their licenses despite neglecting patients, stealing drugs from them or practicing while impaired. On Monday, Gov. Mark Dayton said that dramatic steps may need to be taken to change the Nursing Board’s culture.
Hamilton’s statement said the Nursing Board “has some difficult questions to answer” regarding its disciplinary process, echoing a statement it provided to the Legislature last week when it called for more scrutiny of nursing discipline.
The statement claimed that the Star Tribune has not asked the union to comment on the nursing stories “since they were first printed.” Prior to the publication of the first story Oct. 6, the union declined to comment on the disciplinary process when contacted by the newspaper. Last week, a reporter again contacted the union, which declined to comment.