Kathy J. Sackman is a registered nurse and president of the United Nurses Assns. of California/Union of Health Care Professionals. Her recent article, in the Los Angeles Times, July 29, 2009, "Does Schwarzenegger care about nursing care?" made me stop and think that we have more problems in oversight, besides the problems with the California Board of Registered Nursing. Ms. Sackman states, "......governor voices concern about the state nursing board's failure to act on complaints, but he and lawmakers keep denying it the resources necessary to do the job." As a patient advocate, I am aware of California's resource problems with agencies that not only oversee nursing, as the CBRN, but with other agencies that oversee health care facilities to ensure compliance, e.g. California Department of Public Health, Licensing and Certification Division. This agency oversees such as nursing homes and dialysis units.
According to those I have communicated with at the CDPH, L&C, there are problems with resources e.g. not enough surveyors to conduct inspections such as dialysis facilities. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has requested that states, as California, inspect dialysis facilities every three years. However, in my recent communications, I was informed that there are dialysis facilities that have not been inspected in over 4-5 years. CMS' responsibility is to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries, and other patients, receive quality safe care. Without adequate oversight e.g. timely inspections, no one will know if a facility is in compliance with governing regulations. Shame on our government for not carrying forth their responsibilitites. Dialysis is a life-saving treatment that can become life-threatening in a second's time. I say to Ms. Sackman, I share in your concern to have sufficient staff in order to timely investigate complaints, however, I would also like your support for our CDPH L&C to timely inspect facilities. Keep in mind, there might be nursing, or other staff, that are not doing their job, resulting in harm, which could result in a CBRN investigation. Let's protect all. Over the years, I have reviewed surveys from 2003 - 2007 and I am convinced that the inspection process identifies that which facility staff do not e.g. ineffective infection control practices, incorrect dialyzers, wrong solutions used, etc. It is evident that the deficiencies cited, during surveys, are in areas that have not been noted by facility staff, therefore, if the surveyor did not identify a wrong practice, who knows what might have happened. My point is that more resources are needed in agencies besides the CBRN ..Timely inspections can prevent errors that can result in death, suffering and harm
If Governor Schwarzeneggar is going to provide additional resources to the CBRN, then I would suggest, just as important, that he add resources to the CDPH, L&C