Patient Safety Bills by Senator Hill Face Crucial Vote Tuesday by Assembly Committee

July 08, 2017

News Advisory – Office of State Senator Jerry Hill – July 8, 2017

Patient Safety and Protection Bills by Senator Jerry Hill Face Crucial Vote Tuesday by Assembly Committee in the State Capitol

Despite Buy-In From Regulatory Board, Opponents Still Seek to Block Patient Notification of Doctors on Probation. Reporting of Nurses Fired for Offenses That Endangered Patients Also Opposed.

WHAT: The Assembly Business and Professions Committee casts do-or-die votes on two consumer protection bills by state Senator Jerry Hill that would ensure that patients are notified by their doctor if the physician has been placed on probation for serious professional misconduct, and ensure that state regulators are notified if registered nurses are terminated for – or resign because of – offenses that endangered or harmed patients.

Currently, there is no requirement for doctors to inform patients of probationary status, and registered nurses and the hospitals or agencies that employ them are not required to report terminations or resignations resulting from serious professional violations to the state board that licenses RNs. Senate Bill 798 (Hill) addresses the patient notification issue regarding doctors. SB 799 (Hill) closes the reporting gap regarding registered nurses.

WHEN: 9:30 AM, Tuesday, July 11, 2017 – The Assembly Business and Professions Committee convenes for a hearing on legislation, including SB 798 and SB 799. The bills are expected to be taken up soon after the hearing begins.

WHERE: State Capitol, Room 4202 (Fourth Floor), Sacramento

BACKGROUND: SB 798 and SB 799 are “sunset” bills that set the terms for continued operation of the Medical Board of California, which licenses physicians, and the California Board of Registered Nursing, which licenses registered nurses, respectively. Senator Hill and the Senate Business and Professions Committee, with the senator as its chair, have worked with both regulatory boards to step up their performance in enforcement, discipline, oversight and transparency to better protect patients.

Provisions in the bills include the patient notification requirement for doctors and the reporting requirement regarding registered nurses. The bills are the result of more than two years of efforts involving the senator, the Senate Business and Professions Committee, the regulatory boards and stakeholders.

For example, recent amendments to SB 798 supported by the state Medical Board limit patient notification of a doctor’s probation to cases involving sexual misconduct, a criminal conviction involving the practice of medicine, drug or alcohol abuse during practice, repeat probation offenders, and violations for which the board believes notification is appropriate.

SB 799 initially called for nurses and their employers to notify the Board of Registered Nursing of the suspension, termination or resignation of any registered nurse for a range of violations that included abuse, neglect, physical harm or sexual contact with a patient or client; gross negligence or incompetence; substance or alcohol use that impaired the ability to practice nursing safely; unlawful sale of a controlled substance or other prescription items; falsification of medical records; and theft from patients, clients, coworkers or the employer.

Recent amendments to SB 799 narrow the reporting requirement by limiting the responsibility to employers. They are to report to the nursing board cases in which a nurse is terminated or resigned as a result of:

(1) Use of controlled substances or alcohol to the extent that it impaired the nurse’s ability to safely practice registered nursing.

(2) Unlawful sale or possession of a controlled substance or other prescription items.

(3) Patient or client abuse, neglect, physical harm, or sexual contact with a patient or client.

Despite the changes, opponents still seek to block the consumer protection measures that would provide greater patient safety and increased transparency in cases of serious professional misconduct involving doctors or registered nurses.

The bills must be passed by the Assembly Business and Professions Committee in order to continue along the legislative process. If passed by the committee on Tuesday, SB 798 and SB 799 would then go to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for consideration of fiscal impacts to the state.

More information on the bills is available at the following links.

RESOURCES:

Fact Sheet for SB 798
http://sd13.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd13.senate.ca.gov/files/sb798_doctors_factsheet_7-5-17.pdf

Background on SB 798, including statistics on cases of doctors on probation
http://sd13.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd13.senate.ca.gov/files/background-statistics-doctors-probation_0.pdf

Fact Sheet for SB 799
http://sd13.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd13.senate.ca.gov/files/sb799_nurses_factsheet_7-5-17.pdf

Background on SB 799, including statistics on complaints about serious misconduct by registered nurses
http://sd13.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd13.senate.ca.gov/files/background-statistics-nurses-reporting.pdf

Audio for the hearing is expected to be live streamed here:
http://abp.assembly.ca.gov/hearings

Media Contact: Leslie Guevarra, 415-298-3404, leslie.guevarra@sen.ca.gov

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