Complaints of Respiratory Therapists Rose After Reporting Law Was Enforced
Hospital complaints about respiratory therapists have "soared" since a state law mandating reporting of therapists' misconduct took effect two years ago, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Respiratory Care Board of California has received 57 complaints from hospitals and health care facilities in the past two years, but had not received any such complaints in the nine years prior to the law's enactment. The law -- passed in September 1998 and implemented in January 1999 -- requires hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and other health care facilities to report on-the-job suspensions and firings of respiratory therapists for "harming or neglecting patients, falsifying medical records, stealing, being grossly incompetent or using alcohol or drugs in a manner that impairs their work." The law also mandates that respiratory therapists report their peers in these circumstances, "or face discipline themselves." Hospitals and other employers face a fine of $10,000 for each incident they fail to report. Thus far, no hospital or licensee has been disciplined for failure to report, but the board has "recently begun to receive evidence of non-reporting," according to Cathleen McCoy, the board's executive officer. Among the 57 cases reported, eight were brought to the board's attention by respiratory therapists, and four by co-workers in other professions. Four respiratory therapists who were reported have lost their licenses, five others have been placed on probation, one received a warning and two cases were dismissed. The remaining cases are being investigated (Guccione, Los Angeles Times, 2/18).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.