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News / Health / Clark County Health

Nurse practitioner surrenders license

Payette Clinic figure Bell is still licensed registered nurse

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian Health Reporter
Published: December 12, 2017, 6:40pm

A Clark County nurse practitioner sanctioned by the state health department in 2009 for overprescribing opioids at the Payette Clinic has surrendered her license following additional charges related to overprescribing.

Kelly M. Bell agreed to surrender her advanced registered nurse practitioner license on Nov. 28 — more than a year after the state Department of Health filed charges of unprofessional conduct against her. Bell does, however, still hold a registered nurse license in the state of Washington. Her RN license does not have any restrictions, allowing her to continue practicing as a registered nurse in the state.

“She can’t diagnose. She can’t treat. She can’t prescribe,” said Paula Meyer, executive director of the state Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission. “Because those fall under nurse practitioner.”

As a registered nurse, however, Bell can administer medications, Meyer said.

The nursing commission in October 2016 charged Bell with unprofessional conduct tied to her treatment of two patients at her Vancouver practice, Walnut Grove Medical & Mental Health. She apparently closed the clinic in April 2015.

The patients — a 44-year-old woman and her 65-year-old mother — were both admitted to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in late January 2015. The admissions “raised serious concerns about (Bell’s) prescribing practices and overall treatment of these patients,” according to the state commission.

The commission determined Bell’s care of the two women fell below the standard of care for the following reasons: prescribing multiple medications for the same condition, not clearly documenting diagnostic reasoning for prescribing medications, making medication changes without clearly documenting her rationale for those changes, increasing medication dosages despite laboratory tests showing the doses were already too high, not closely monitoring side effects and failing to adjust the patients’ medications despite pharmacy alerts regarding gaps in medications and duplicate medications.

Bell requested a hearing on the charges. Before the hearing took place, Bell and the commission came to the license surrender agreement.

“The nursing commission feels that this is a good resolution,” Meyer said. “And it protects the public.”

Bell could not be reached for comment.

Past complaints

Since Bell received her nurse practitioner license in 2001, the state has received 46 complaints against her. Most were addressed in December 2009, when the nursing commission sanctioned Bell for prescribing “extremely high doses of opioids” at the Payette Clinic. The state stripped her of her privileges to prescribe Schedule II drugs — such as oxycodone, morphine and methadone — for two years, after which Bell could apply for reinstatement. Those privileges were never reinstated.

Bell’s ability to practice medicine was not affected by the 2009 sanctions because the commission believed there was a potential for rehabilitation.

The 2009 disciplinary action was a factor in the current settlement, Meyer said.

It’s unclear if or where Bell is practicing now.

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Columbian Health Reporter