Nursing Database Omits Dangerous Caregivers

In their ongoing series on nursing oversight in the State of California, Tracy Weber and Charles Ornstein of ProPublica are out with another story about California’s shortcomings in regulating healthcare professionals. Weber and Ornstein reveal that the national database that tracks dangerous or incompetent caregivers is missing serious disciplinary actions against “what are probably thousands” of health care providers. The revelations apparently surprised federal health officials, who just last month proclaimed that “no data is missing.”

For almost twenty years the federal government has kept a database of disciplinary actions against doctors and dentist, and in 1999 individual state boards were required to include in the database reports on all other healthcare professional, including nurses, whose licenses were restricted or revoked. In California, however, not all penalized caregivers were included in the federal database. For example, California has formally disciplined 84 psychiatric technicians over the last two years, yet the federal database does not contain a single report of discipline against a psychiatric technician in the State of California.

The dangers of an incomplete database are obvious, as Dr. Sidney M. Wolfe of the Public Citizen’s Health Research Group observed, prospective employers of health care professions could be given “a false sense of security that somebody who may be really dangerous isn’t, because their name isn’t there.”

To read the entire ProPublica article click here.

The nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers at the Walton Law Firm represent seniors and dependent adults throughout California who have been abused or neglected in the skilled nursing facility, residential care facility for the elderly, and assisted living setting. Call (760) 571-5500 for a free and confidential consultation.