Header, the Administration of the Honorable Lincoln C. Almond
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2002 Veto
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August 7, 1996


In accordance with the provisions of Section 43-1-4 of the General Laws, I am transmitting herewith, with my disapproval, 96-S-2724, "An Act Relating To Businesses and Professions."

This Act would require the Board of Nursing to complete the investigation of each complaint and issue a decision on the complaint within six months of the filing of such complaint unless the Board finds good cause after a hearing to extend such time for an additional three months. Additionally, this Act requires that complaints be filed in a timely manner.

Although the intent of this Act is laudable, the legislation is unacceptable for the following reasons. First, the Board of Nursing does not control all aspects of the investigatory and hearing process. Delays can result from difficulties in obtaining information, and continuances of hearings at the request of the licensee nurse or the nurse* s attorney. Since the Act makes no provision for such circumstances, complaints could be dismissed as untimely because of delays attributable to the licensee— an obviously incongruous result. Furthermore, the stated procedure for extending the time for issuing a decision is unduly burdensome in that it requires a hearing and a written decision from the Board showing good cause for the extension.

Second, the legislation would require the Board of Nursing, in some instances, to make recommendations about censure status without the benefit of having acquired all available information. These decisions, which are central to the protection of the public health and safety, should be made on the basis of a complete investigation of the facts and not be driven by some arbitrary time deadline.

In addition, the separate requirement in the Act that complaints be "timely" filed is too vague and provides insufficient guidance as to when a complaint would be dismissed as too late.

While I veto this legislation, I agree that the problem underlying this Act — excessive delays in the processing of complaints against nurses — needs to be addressed. In this regard, the Department of Health is committed to improving the process and dedicating adequate resources to this task. Indeed, my veto of this Act does not negate the responsibilities of the Board of Nursing and the Department of Health to provide timely, appropriate, and quality service to licensees who have had a complaint filed against them.

For the foregoing reasons, I disapprove of this legislation and respectfully urge your support of this veto.


Lincoln Almond