Awhile back I published a blog post that delved into the specifics of where board actions are located. Today, I will focus on one of those locations: meeting minutes. It has been suggested that meeting minutes can be used as an early warning system to get an idea of anything that might be happening at the board level with a practitioner’s license.
This can be true in certain situations, but that is not the case universally. There are some limitations to the type of data that can be obtained from meeting minute sources.
1: Meeting minutes do not follow a standardized pattern and vary widely from board to board.
There are a lot of nuances in working with meeting minutes that aren’t immediately apparent to the casual observer. For one, meeting minutes do not follow a standardized pattern. They come in a variety of different forms.
Some are a verbatim record of what happened in a particular meeting. As you can imagine, these tend to be very long and difficult to work with if the record goes on for hundreds of pages. The Alabama Board of Pharmacy reports their meeting minutes in this fashion. See a screenshot of the example below to see what I mean:
As you can see, this can be a difficult source to work with if you’re looking to quickly skim a few pages to find your answer. You’re probably better off doing a license verification on the person you’re investigating. Other state boards focus instead on making a record of the important events and decisions undertaken during the meeting. These can sometimes be more useful, but there are limitations with these as well.
2: Some state boards update license verification tools more frequently than they publish meeting minutes.
Let’s take the case of the Texas Board of Nursing. The Texas Board of Nursing publishes their meeting minutes and public disciplinary actions on a quarterly basis (January, April, July, October), but we have noticed that they update the data on their Licensure Verification tools more frequently than that.
There have been several instances where we have noticed that data available on the Licensure Verification tools had not yet been published in the quarterly publications. At times, in can be several months before the boards make the publications available. This means that if you are doing research on a nurse in Texas, you’re better off to focus on using their Licensure Verification tool rather than sifting through the meeting minutes or the public disciplinary actions. At Typhoon Data, we collect the data that is published quarterly, but we also recommend that our customers with licensed nurses in the state of Texas enroll those individuals in our License Check monitoring services.
3: Some boards only publish board actions in the license verification tool.
Let’s turn our attention now to the California Board of Registered Nursing. In October 2013, the California Board of Registered Nursing stopped publishing disciplinary action lists. See the message in bold text below:
Additionally, they have also stopped including board disciplinary action data in their meeting minutes. This means that the BreEZe License Verification system and Nursys is the only place that recent board action information can be found at this time. This is a limitation of the source and there is no way around this. Please note that California isn’t the only state that has nuances like this. The Maryland Board of Nursing has some severe limitations as well. For nurses in Texas, California, and Maryland, you have to be checking the licenses of these individuals as well in addition to just monitoring what board actions might be coming in from a particular source.
4: Some boards go into an executive session and do not record the board disciplinary actions in their meeting minutes.
There is another issue that pops up in a lot of these meeting minutes. Some boards go into an executive session that is off the record to discuss the board actions or they redact the board action information from the meeting minutes altogether. A lot of the time this data can be found in other places, but sometimes the only way to get to it is to perform a license verification on the candidate in question.
In summary, it is important to understand that each board does things differently from every other.
There is not a uniform way that meeting minutes are recorded or published. The form varies from verbatim transcriptions to an outline that highlights the key decisions and discussion points of the meetings. The type of information that gets recorded varies as well. Some boards will break out board actions into easy to follow formats, others will enter into executive discussions and not record anything that happens there. The state boards can also get behind on publishing meeting minutes at regular intervals. Finally, some state boards only publish board disciplinary actions in the license verification tool.
Here at Typhoon Data, we have noticed state sources that have special nuances to the ways that they publish the data and we put into place processes and recommendations to help deal with these issues.
As I’ve shown you, meeting minutes have their limitations as to what data can be collected and how reliably that data is updated. I have only scratched the surface in regard to the data limitations with meeting minutes by providing a few examples. As always, if you have specific questions about data availability, the nuances of a particular source, or the best place to find the data you’re looking for, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or to call me at 800-780-5901, Extension 103.