Intake is the first step in the disciplinary process where we receive a report and enter it in the commission database. Reports can come from employers, co-workers, patients or clients, family, neighbors, and agencies. Anyone may file a report. Nurses and other professionals have mandatory reporting requirements (see Chapter 246-16 WAC). However, not every minor error is meant to be reported.
Anyone may file a report of misconduct by a nurse, and every report is assessed. However, not all reports are investigated, and not all result in disciplinary action. Each case is assessed individually by a panel of three commission members. The panel decides if the conduct reported:
- would violate nursing laws or rules
- has enough information to determine the complaint warrants investigation, or
- is more than a minor or isolated event, and is not one that has already been remediated or resolved.
An average of 40 reports are received per week, and about 35 percent are sent for an investigation. Appropriate cases may be referred to the commission's two alternative to discipline programs, the Washington Health Professional Services or the Early Remediation Program. See procedure A34 (PDF) for more information about the Early Remediation Program. The other 65 percent are closed. They are not available to the public unless a written public disclosure request is received.
Intake and assessment of complaints are usually completed within 21 days.