Issue 1: Licensure of the Practice of Licensed Practical Nursing Is Needed to Protect Public Interest.

This report is a Regulatory Board Evaluation which requires by law a determination of whether or not the Board is necessary for the protection of public health and safety. In determining if there is a need for the Board of Examiners for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), a primary consideration is whether the unregulated practice of the profession would clearly endanger the health and safety of the public. The finding of this issue is that licensing Practical Nurses is necessary for protecting the citizens of West Virginia.

Many functions performed by a LPN require specific knowledge based on a wide range of skills and expertise. The Board of Examiners of Licensed Practical Nurses has over 7,000 individuals licensed in the State of West Virginia. The majority of licensees are working with sick and/or elderly individuals that require specific training and skills, and there is potential harm against the public if competency of LPN's is not ensured.

Nationally, all 50 states have licensing boards established for nursing. Only 5 states have separate licensing boards for Registered Professional Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses but all states license LPN's according to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Those states which have separate licensing boards are California, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas and West Virginia.

Recommendation 1:

The Legislative Auditor recommends that the Legislature continue to require Practical Nurses be licensed by the State of West Virginia.

Issue 2:The Board Complies with the General Provisions of Chapter 30.

The Board of Examiners for Licensed Practical Nurses has complied with applicable state laws and rules. These laws and rules, primarily found within the Board's own article of Code and in the general provisions of Chapter 30, are important in the effective operation of a licensing board.

The Board of Examiners for Licensed Practical Nurses requires continuing education. The licensees are required to submit, within thirty days of receipt of the notice of audit, legible copies of certificates of attendance at continuing education offerings, transcripts of courses taken, and verification of employment as a licensed practical nurse.

The LPN Board keeps track of all complaints received against each licensee. The Board reports that each complaint is either responded to the same day or the following day and that most complaints deal with patient abuse, practice issues, criminal convictions, failing continuing education requirements, and practicing on an expired license. For cases reported in FY 2000, the average length of time for a resolution of cases was 79 days. Due process is provided by the Board as required in §30-1-5(b) for licensees against whom a complaint has been filed.

Financial self-sufficiency of regulatory boards is required by West Virginia Code §30-1-6(c). The LPN Board has a total budget for FY 2001 of $341,616. The Board's licensing fees and administrative fees imposed against its licensees are remitted to the Board's special revenue fund, and the fines imposed are remitted to the State's general fund in accordance with the Code §30-1-8.