The California Board of Medicine makes Accusations against physicians available to the public. Check Doctor License status here. The Medical Board’s search system has been touted as one of the best in the country [Dahlberg, Sacramento Bee 7/12/10]. Patients seeking to learn more about their doctors/potential doctors can easily view discipline Accusations lodged against physicians, which can lead to a more informed decision.

However, medical professionals, healthcare practitioner advocacy groups and defense attorneys protest the disclosure of Accusations prior to any final action being taken against a physician. The exposure of Accusations, prior to any final action being taken, creates a situation where a doctor can be judged on the basis of unproven complaints or allegations.

The ultimate goal is to protect the public, and allow patients to access a practitioners’ history, while simultaneously protecting physician privacy and due process under the law. The disclosure of unsubstantiated Accusations has the potential to mis-inform patients and ruin reputations of healthcare professionals, but also allows patients to make more informed decisions based on the nature of the allegations. It is a “Catch 22″ for everyone involved, but the physicians bear the brunt of the detriment to their careers and profession if patients make judgements based on untruthful accusations.

National Nurses United will be comprised of the merging of the 3 existing unions: Cal. Nurses Assoc., Massachusetts Nurses Assoc. and United American Nurses. The 3 unions, already powerhouses among legislative organization for nursing professionals, plan to combine forces and unite under the new National Nurses United (NNU) title. Each member union will hold a national convention to ratify the merger, and the NNU will hold its founding convention in December 2009.

http://www.modernhealthcare.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090825/REG/308259948&AssignSessionID=17334219248569

Texas nurse downloaded entire computer hard drive (over 3,000 pages of patient files) after being fired because she told supervisors she was going to file written report about patient care violations.  The Texas court of Appeals upheld her conduct under whistleblower laws, over objections based on medical confidentiality. Whistleblower laws not only permit but require nurses to report abuse, neglect and other illegal and wrongful acts.

Westlake Surgical vs. Turner, 2009 WL 2410276 (Tex. App., August 7, 2009).

California Board of Nursing replacements were elected August 12, 2009, and discussed raising licensing fees in 2010 and addressing the backlog of disciplinary actions. New Board members meet with the committees today in Sacramento.

Nursing Licensure fees have not been altered for the past 18 years, and will be increased by almost 50%. The increase in fees is necessary to fund the 63 positions created to handle complaints and investigate disciplinary actions. Renewal rates will increase to $150 (+ an additional $10 for the RN Educational Fund), interim & temporary license fees will rise to $50, and initial fees for NPs, nurse midwives, CNAs and clinical nurse specialists will also cost $150. The Board moved to support the increase of fees and will set a public hearing date shortly. The soonest the Board could vote on the increased fee schedule is November 2009.

Gov. Schwarzenegger appointed Brian Stiger as the new director of the Dept. of Consumer Affairs. Stiger has ordered an internal review of the Cal. Board of Nursing disciplinary process, and reform is a top priority. Stiger’s goal is to streamline the process so that complaints are investigated, prosecuted and resolved within a 12 – 18 month timeframe.

http://nursing.advanceweb.com/Editorial/Content/Editorial.aspx?CC=205077

When Gov. Schwarzenegger promised “sweeping changes” he failed to appreciate the amount of time it will require to overhaul the Cal. State Board of Nursing disciplinary process. Delays and inefficiencies that attorneys at Murphy Jones LLP have been dealing with are now becoming more apparent to the state legislature and analysts waiting for reform.

Julie Fellmeth, Admin. Director of the Center for Public Interest law, said, “For some reason, [the State Board of Nursing staff] seem to feel their system is just fine, that it just needs a little tweaking around the edges here and there…There needs to be a significant blowing up of the system.”

To read the L.A. Times article visit: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-nursing-reform18-2009aug18,0,4778533.story

Calif. to start dropping children from state plan – Modern Healthcare

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Aspiring nurses must complete fingerprinting with LiveScan, and the board must receive the results from the Dept. of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation which can take 3 – 6 weeks.

http://www.rn.ca.gov/

CMS reports that Scripps Memorial La Jolla and Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, CA, boast the highest survival rates for pneumonia and heart failure patients. The data reflects info. gathered from patient discharges between July 2005 – June 2008.

ADVANCE article: http://nursing.advanceweb.com/Editorial/Content/Editorial.aspx?CC=203928

Full CMS Report: http://www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov.

CMS published an announcement 7.20.09 describing regulatory changes that will impact standards for Medicare reimbursement starting 2010. The press release articulated the definition of “direct supervision” of an physician who is supervising nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and/or certified nurse midwives as,”For services provided in the hospital, direct supervision means that the physician must be present in the hospital or on campus and immediately available to furnish assistance and direction throughout the performance of the procedure. For services furnished in an off-campus outpatient department, direct supervision means the physician must be present in the off-campus department and available to furnish assistance and direction throughout the performance of the procedure. In or out of the hospital, the physician need not be present in the room when the procedure is performed.” FEDERAL REGISTER July 20, 2009 Pgs. 35424 – 35425