Nursing assistant’s license suspension vacated

Susan Meade was accused of abusing patients; error during disciplinary proceedings negated decision

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

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The Vancouver nursing assistant accused of rubbing a soiled disposable brief in the face of a woman for whom she was caring had her license suspension vacated due to an error during the disciplinary proceedings.

Registered nursing assistant Susan Meade was charged with unprofessional conduct for the alleged act, among other accusations of verbal and physical abuse, in March.

The charges were the result of a state Department of Social and Health Services investigation and a subsequent investigation by the Department of Health related to incidents that took place in early 2009.

On Aug. 9, the Washington State Department of Health suspended Meade’s license for two years, at which point she was able petition to have the privileges reinstated.

Meade’s case was the focus of an Aug. 21 Columbian story, “When trust is betrayed.” The daughters of one of Meade’s alleged victims spoke out about their mother’s time in Meade’s care.

But weeks after the suspension was issued, a state health law judge vacated the decision.

The disciplinary order was issued by default when Meade failed to participate in a pre-hearing telephone conference on July 20.

One week earlier, the state health department had received a letter from Meade providing her new telephone number and address. But the presiding health law judge never saw the letter.

During the telephone conference, the judge called the old phone number and, as a result, never reached Meade, according to state health department documents.

As a result of the error, Meade’s credential suspension was vacated, meaning she is authorized to practice unless a new disciplinary order is issued.

She will appear before a health law judge at 9 a.m. Thursday in Tumwater to present her case.

The state Department of Social and Health Services issued a separate finding against Meade on May 27. DSHS prohibited Meade from working in a position that involves the care of vulnerable adults or allows her to have unsupervised access to vulnerable adults.

That finding is not affected by the department of health decision to vacate her license suspension.

Marissa Harshman: http://twitter.com/col_health; http://facebook.com/reporterharshman; marissa.harshman@columbian.com; 360-735-4546.