Patient Safety Act Advances

(May 2) – The House this morning gave initial approval to the Patient Safety Act, a bill by Rep. Janet Buckner, D-Aurora.

“Colorado is one of only five states in the country that doesn’t require fingerprint background checks for nurses, and one of only six states that doesn’t require the same for physicians,” said Rep. Buckner. “The Patient Safety Act addresses that gap by requiring fingerprint background checks for doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers authorized to prescribe controlled substances.  This is a common sense change and it is time for Colorado to join the rest of the nation with this important safeguard.”

Federal-level fingerprint based background checks are the most comprehensive means available to ensure patient safety and transparency. Currently, Colorado relies on self-disclosure to ensure doctors do not have past criminal convictions that would flag them as potentially unfit to provide care.

During the bill’s initial committee hearing, Michelle Shelley, the mother of a young girl with special needs and the cognitive ability of a 6-month-old, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Shelley described the traumatic experience of realizing that her daughter was being abused by a registered nurse who was hired to care for her last summer in the family’s home.

“Her bed is no longer a peaceful place of rest—it is filled with nightmares,” said Shelley. “The abuse shouldn’t have ever happened. Today I ask you to support the Patient Safety Act because we have an obligation to add this protection for those who cannot speak.”

HB17-1121 also enters Colorado into the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact to enable these professionals to continue to provide telehealth nursing services and be able to practice in other states with their Colorado license. The bill also aligns the Nursing Practice Act to the Medical Practice Act to eliminate an existing “safe harbor” for addiction-related violations.

The bill continues to the House floor for third reading.

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