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Patient Safety in California

California has enacted laws for the purpose of protecting the health and safety of patients in health facilities.  A health facility is defined as a hospital, community health center, or a nursing facility.1  Primarily, health facilities are required to report adverse events, as defined by the law.2  There is a penalty for failing to report instances of adverse events.3  The California State Department of Health is required to provide information on substantiated adverse events on the Department’s website that is accessible to all California residents and protects patient confidentiality by January 1, 2015.4  The Department may also assist health facilities in correcting deficiencies by providing a corrective plan.5  The Department is required to file reports on inspections, corrective plans, and deficiencies in health facilities, which are open to public inspection.6  However, the law prohibits the use of any of these materials in any legal proceeding against the facility or its employees.7

California law also requires a health facility to establish and implement a patient safety plan to improve the health and safety of patients and reduce preventable adverse or potential adverse events or health care associated infections. The patient safety plan must include several components: a patient safety committee to review and approve the safety plan, review reports of patient safety events, and make recommendations to reduce adverse patient safety events; a reporting system for patient safety events; a process for evaluation and analysis of the adverse patient safety event; and a process for ongoing patient safety training for staff.8  Additionally, California requires health facilities to report instances of health care acquired infections (HAI’s)9 as well as instances of alleged or actual patient abuse to the California State Department of Health.10

Patient safety laws in California require the state’s Medical Board to maintain a central file that contain information on a licensed physician’s criminal convictions, judgments, settlements, public complaints, and disciplinary action.11  California patient safety law also involves reporting physician malpractice settlements or judgments to the Medical Board.  California requires reporting malpractice settlements or judgments when the amount is above $30,000 in certain circumstances.12  In addition, the Medical Board is authorized to release physician information related to patient safety to the public, upon request.  Information that can be released includes a physician’s disciplinary actions, the issuance of temporary restraining orders, and civil judgments.13

 

Footnotes

  • 1. Health & Safety Code §1279.1
  • 2. Id.
  • 3. Health & Safety Code §1280.4
  • 4. Health & Safety Code §1279.3
  • 5. Health & Safety Code §1280
  • 6. Id.
  • 7. Id.
  • 8. Health & Safety Code §1279.6   
  • 9. Health & Safety Code §1288.55
  • 10. Health & Safety Code §1418.91
  • 11. Bus. & Prof. Code §800
  • 12. Bus. & Prof. Code §801.1
  • 13. Bus. & Prof. Code §803.1

 

Patient Safety in California

Subtopic Statute/Regulation Description
Malpractice reporting: By peer review/medical board Final proposed action; notice to licentiate; documents to inspect and copy; confidentiality; disclosure – Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 805.01 “Final proposed action; notice to licentiate; documents to inspect and copy; confidentiality; disclosure”   The administrator of a...
Medical, Osteopathic, and Podiatry Boards and Disclosure of Information to Public – Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 803.1 Medical, osteopathic, and podiatry boards; disclosure of information to public The Medical Board of California can release the following information...
Reports to Applicable State Agencies Concerning Settlement, Arbitration Award, or Civil Award – Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 801.1 Legislative findings and declarations; reports to applicable state agencies concerning settlement, arbitration award, or civil award; failure to...
Requirements for Central File of Licensed Practitioners in California – Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 800 Central files; creation; contents; complaint forms; confidentiality The California Medical Board must keep a central file of all licensed...
Patient Safety Health & Safety Code §1279.1 Reporting by health facilities of adverse events A health facility (defined as a hospital, community health center or nursing facility) must report...
Health & Safety Code §1279.3 Information regarding reports of substantiated adverse events and outcome of inspections and investigations The California State Department of Health...
Health & Safety Code §1279.6 Patient safety plan; development, implementation, and compliance; provisions for establishment; definition of patient safety events A health facility...
Health & Safety Code §1280 Consulting services; inspections; deficiencies; notice; failure to correct; revocation or suspension of license; reports; use of plan as admission A...
Health & Safety Code §1280.4 Failure to report an adverse event; Penalties The California State Department of Health may assess a penalty on any health facility (defined as a...
Health & Safety Code §1288.55 Reporting Requirements All health facilities (defined as a hospital, community health center or nursing facility) are required to report instances of...
Health & Safety Code §1418.91 Reports of incidents of alleged abuse or suspected abuse of residents All long term care facilities are required to report to the State Department of...
Malpractice reporting: By insurance companies Medical, Osteopathic, and Podiatry Boards and Disclosure of Information to Public – Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 803.1 Medical, osteopathic, and podiatry boards; disclosure of information to public The Medical Board of California can release the following information...
Reports to Applicable State Agencies Concerning Settlement, Arbitration Award, or Civil Award – Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 801.1 Legislative findings and declarations; reports to applicable state agencies concerning settlement, arbitration award, or civil award; failure to...
Malpractice reporting: Self-report Medical, Osteopathic, and Podiatry Boards and Disclosure of Information to Public – Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 803.1 Medical, osteopathic, and podiatry boards; disclosure of information to public The Medical Board of California can release the following information...
Reports to Applicable State Agencies Concerning Settlement, Arbitration Award, or Civil Award – Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 801.1 Legislative findings and declarations; reports to applicable state agencies concerning settlement, arbitration award, or civil award; failure to...