Publication of a Searchable Nurse Database

Names of 2,059 nurses in California disciplinary database are now publicly available.

After the Los Angeles Times and ProPublica analyzed the records of 2,059 nurses who faced disciplinary action by the California Board of Registered Nursing between 2002 and 2008, the names were made public in a searchable database available on the ProPublica website. The database can be searched by nurse's name, year of disciplinary action, and reason for disciplinary action. The nurse's file, if available, can be accessed.

The ProPublica site clearly states that there are several limitations of the information contained in the database, such as missing documents, conflicting documents and/or dates, and the collection of data from 2002-2008. According to ProPublica's analysis, 1,094 nurses lost their licenses, 441 nurses were put on probation, 178 nurses had pending cases, and 266 completed probation. A few nurses are profiled, with photographs and details of the cases reviewed. A list of 81 nurses, labeled as public safety threats because of the severity of their violations, is available at http://projects.propublica.org/nurses/list/nurses/public_risk.

Nurses and the public have responded to the availability of this information in a variety of ways. Some nurses and non-nurses have written that "it's about time that this information was made publicly available." However, others have expressed concern that publishing information about pending investigations is irresponsible and have written comments such as "whatever happened to being innocent until proven guilty?" Regardless of how people feel about the availability of information, people are searching the database (as I did), perhaps out of curiosity or possibly to see if a particular nurse's name appears in the database.