In the case disposition step, the investigative file is reviewed by a single commission member who is called the reviewing commission member (RCM). The RCM receives a legal review from one of the commission's staff attorneys and may discuss the case with the attorney and the investigator.
The RCM presents the case to a panel of the commission, called a case disposition panel (CDP). The panel makes the decision either to close the case or take action.
Decision options include:
- Close the case
- Alternatives to discipline:
- Refer to Washington Health Professional Services (WHPS) - The commission believes substance abuse is a disease. WHPS is the Commission-approved monitoring program for nurses with substance use disorders. A one-time referral to WHPS may be offered in lieu of discipline. If additional charges are proven, nurses may be referred to WHPS through formal or informal action.
- Refer to the Early Remediation Program - When a report alleges practice deficiencies, and it appears the nurse would benefit from short-term remedial education, the Commission may refer the nurse to the Early Remediation Program when appropriate. Several criteria must be met, including minor or no harm to the patient, and the nurse agreeing to the program. This program is in lieu of discipline, and does not show in the database as disciplinary action. See procedure A34 (PDF) for more information.
- Informal action
- Formal action
If informal action is requested, the legal documents are drafted and served on the respondent, and the case can be settled between the Commission and the respondent. Informal action begins with a statement of allegations and results in a stipulation to informal disposition (STID). In a STID, the respondent does not admit to the conduct, and no findings of fact are made. However, the respondent agrees to abide by any terms or remedial action spelled out in the document.
If a STID cannot be reached, the case will convert to a formal action, and the case now goes to the adjudicative step.