Once again The Tennessean seems to insinuate that Representatives Tony Shipley (R-Kingsport) and Dale Ford (R-Jonesborough) somehow acted inappropriately in pressuring the Tennessee Board of Nursing to reconsider the cases of three Kingsport-area nurse practitioners whose licenses were suspended. As we have discussed in detail in earlier columns in this space, neither of the Representatives involved believed that they acted in any way that was inappropriate, nor did they believe that they were abusing their power and authority as legislators. Further, according to news reports, as well as Representatives Ford and Shipley, Tennessee State Commissioner of Health Susan Cooper was fully aware of the concerns of the legislators involved and she supported their efforts on behalf of their constituents, who they believed hadn’t been given a fair hearing.
“All we wanted was to make sure these nurses had their cases heard an a fair and objective manner and that they had a chance to present physical and written evidence and arguments,” Representative Shipley told The Examiner last week, “we weren’t attempting to tell the Board of Nursing what to decide in this case, we just wanted them to be able to make a decision based on a real hearing with evidence.”
Some observers of the case somehow believe that it was the actions of Shipley and Ford that forced the Board of Nursing to change its initial decision to issue a summary suspension of the nurses’ licenses, but an examination of the circumstances shows that a simple re-hearing of the case in an actual hearing room with live members of the Nursing Board present very way may produce a different result, considering that the hearing where the nurses’ careers were initially destroyed because of allegations that their negligence lead to the untimely deaths of two patients was held via telephone. Yes, read that again. The charges put forth in the allegations against the three Kingsport nurses were that their actions lead to the deaths of three patients, and such serious charges were weighed over the phone. If it were this writer’s career and he maintained his innocence, you’d better believe that calls would be put in to my legislator demanding a live hearing with evidence presented in a room before present members of the Nursing Board. Those are the rights of the accused persons, and their State Representatives were doing the very least of their duties to make certain that the rights of the accused were protected.
Representative Shipley says that he still hasn’t been contacted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. A source closer to the situation says that Shipley may be among the last people the TBI contacts in the course of its so-called “investigation.”