Health Worker Licensing Boards Aim To Tighten Disciplinary Processes
California boards that license nurses, physicians and chiropractors are drafting separate regulations designed to strengthen the disciplinary process for health workers accused of serious wrongdoing, California Watch reports.
The regulations would be similar to provisions included in a failed bill (SB 1111) that was proposed last year by Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Chino).
SB 1111 was prompted by a Los Angeles Times and ProPublica investigationÂ that identified shortcomings in the Board of Registered Nursing's ability to take action against nurses charged with misconduct.
The bill died in a Senate committee.
Details of Proposed Regulations
Russ Heimerich, spokesperson for the Department of Consumer Affairs, said the licensing boards now are attempting to strengthen their disciplinary processes through regulation.
The nursing board's proposed regulations would:
- Automatically revoke licenses from nurses convicted of certain types of abuse;
- Allow the nursing board to accuse nurses of "unprofessional conduct" if they refuse to cooperate with an investigation; and
- Require nurses to undergo a physical or mental fitness test when applying for a license, under certain circumstances.
The regulations proposed by the Medical Board of California would increase the board's authority over doctors who:
- Misuse drugs or alcohol; or
- Fail to fulfill requirements to work under another physician's supervision.
In addition, the Board of Chiropractic Examiners has proposed regulations that would ban chiropractors from entering into "gag clauses" that prevent them from discussing their cases.
Nurses Union Responds
Kelly Green, regulatory advocate for the California Nurses Association, said the union has asked the nursing board to ensure that the proposed regulations do not unfairly penalize nurses.
Green added that the new regulations do not address the board's understaffing issues, which hinder its ability to address complaints (Jewett, California Watch, 2/9).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.