Schwarzenegger vows tougher regulation of misconduct among health pros

Admitting that the state's system has been prone to long-standing delays, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vowed to reform professional disciplinary systems to keep better watch over medical professionals including dentists, pharmacists, therapists and others accused of misconduct.

The new model, which is designed to put more emphasis on protecting consumers rather than licensees, will add more investigative and legal staffers to agencies, appoint an official to audit boards and seek legislation allowing quicker suspension of uncooperative or jailed professionals' licenses. The reforms would probably be paid for through higher licensing fees charged to the health professionals.

Schwarzenegger's announcement comes a month after The Los Angeles Times  reported that it typically takes three years to investigate and discipline registered nurses accused of wrongdoing such as patient abuse, neglect and drug thefts. In contrast, other large states resolve complaints in less than a year.

Critics, however, say that it will take more than a new process to speed up investigations. In recent years, investigative agency budgets have been cut and staff put on furloughs in an effort to save money.

To learn more about this issue:
- read this Los Angeles Times piece

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