Whatever happened to the law to safeguard us at home? - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Whatever happened to the law to safeguard us at home?

by Mindy Aguon

Guam - It was a law designed for you and I to know whether our doctors have ever been disciplined, after all across the country that information is accessible with a click of a few buttons. The Patient Protection Through Information Act has yet to be fully implemented. 

The measure was intended to ensure that residents were able to gain access to information about their physicians. Residents have been unable to know whether their physician lost their license in another state, was sued for medical malpractice or if the doctor has been disciplined.  That information is available on the National Practitioners Databank, but residents cannot access that information.

Despite the law being in place for more than a year, the bill's author, Senator Tina Muna Barnes, understands implementation still hasn't occurred since her last communication with the Guam Board of Medical Examiners chair, Dr. Kia Rahmani, in May of last year.

"He said, 'Senator, you're right.' We haven't done it because there's a lack of resources and manpower to move this thing forward. He admitted that it was their fault and they had to see what they could do to get that in," she recalled.

Although a law has been enacted, the board hasn't been financed to follow through with any of the mandates and there just isn't adequate staff to make it happen. As we reported, the law requires the GBME to provide information within four days regarding any enforcement actions taken against a licensed physician. The law also requires that any information released is in accordance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act guidelines.

The senator says she is working to see if Guam can receive any support or grant funding from the national level to help make full implementation possibly similar to what is done with nurses on island. Senator Barnes says she understands the limited resources and manpower at the Department of Public Health and says her office will go back to see what can be done to ensure the law is followed so the intent of the legislation is finally realized.

She added, "It was to be able to give the patients and the community the opportunity to know what's going on with their doctors. What they've gone through. If there was any negligence on their part. In orders from any other state that the patient had to know that they that they would know how good or how safe they could be with their doctors."

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