July 14, 2009

Investigative journalism makes change happen

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Investigative journalism creates change, as evidenced by today’s report in the Los Angeles Times that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fired half of the members of the state Board of Registered Nursing on Monday.

The Governor was spurred into action by a joint project between the LA Times and investigative journalism non-profit ProPublica that highlighted how nurses with well-documented histories of violence, criminal convictions, theft, drug abuse and incompetence continue to work in the California system for years. 

Reporters Tracy Weber, Charles Ornstein and Maloy Moore revealed that poor board oversight and lengthy disciplinary review times kept these nurses working in California even after they had been disciplined by other licensing boards or barred from practicing in other states. Patient assaults and horrible care followed. 

The harm done to patients by a broken system riddled with inept and corrupt nurses was captured beautifully by photojournalist Liz O. Baylen’s audio slideshow and centerpiece picture of the pale, twisted hands of quadriplegic Spencer Sullivan holding a photo of himself, healthy, fit and tan, as he was before receiving too much pain medication and too little monitoring following a 2001 neck surgery.

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