California State Senators Join Forces To Promote "Patient Safety Act"
Senator Aanestad and Senator Negrete McLeod, both of whom serve on the Senate Health Committee, agree that changes are needed because they believe the current system does not fully identify doctors who have delivered substandard medical care in California. Both legislators have agreed to serve as authors for SB 820.
"Changes are needed to allow earlier identification of problems that endanger patients," said Senator Aanestad. "I'm pleased that Senator Negrete McLeod and I have agreed to a set of needed reforms that places patient safety first."
The Medical Peer Review process is intended to detect incompetent or unprofessional physicians early and terminate, suspend or limit their practice if necessary. These cases can be triggered by a wide variety of events including patient injury, gross negligence and substance abuse. A peer review committee investigates the allegation, comes to a decision regarding the physician's conduct and takes appropriate remedial actions.
"Patients expect physicians or other medical professionals to be competent, qualified and trustworthy," said Senator Negrete McLeod. "Physicians who fail to meet established professional standards must be discovered, reviewed and disciplined, if necessary, in a timely manner."
Senator Aanestad and Senator Negrete McLeod introduced separate bills following the conclusion of several studies that were critical of the medical peer review process, including the 2008 Lumetra Comprehensive Study of Peer Review in California and a congressional investigation on Peer Review.
The Lumetra study, for example, concluded that "the present peer review system is broken for various reasons and is in need of a major fix, if the process is to truly serve the citizens of California." Furthermore, the congressional investigation found that "…the legislation governing the federal and state regulatory agencies so inadequate that prompt amendment of laws and regulations to protect the public is imperative."
"This bipartisan measure provides the framework to improve patient safety," said Senator Aanestad. "Peer review must be conducted fairly but thoroughly, and patient safety must always be the top priority."
The Office of Senator Sam Aanestad