Law Office of Robert A. Miller
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Medical technician's arrest reveals need for national database

Medical technicians in Oregon and nationwide aren't as closely regulated as doctors or nurses. Whereas a national database exists for tracking misconduct or disciplinary actions against physicians, many states don't maintain a comparable database for technicians or even require them to be registered. That discrepancy can lead to disastrous consequences.

A radiology technician working as a temp at a university hospital was recently arrested for unlawful behavior. The technician, who has hepatitis C, is believed to have swiped syringes filled with drugs -- intended for patients -- with ones containing dummy fluids. They syringes may have been discards from the technician's own drug habits. As a result, he may have spread his infection to patients.

When hospitals turn to staffing agencies to fill technician positions, they may forego the verification of proper licensing and investigation of work histories that are required for regular employees.

Some states don't even license radiology workers. Yet even for the 37 states that do rely on the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists to verify that technicians have proper credentials, there is no guarantee. That's because access to information held by state agencies, employers and others sources is not always available.

According to a spokesperson for the agency, there is an urgent need for establishing a national database of disciplinary actions against technicians. The agency currently has about 315,000 technicians registered with it. Last year, it reviewed about 3,000 complaints, of which 222 resulted in public sanctions for misconduct ranging from criminal convictions to unprofessional care. The spokesperson believes that number would be higher if national tracking were available.

Source: Fox News, "Hospital tech's arrest sets off hepatitis scare in 8 states, shows flaws in system," Aug. 14, 2012

• Our firm handles situations similar to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Oregon Hospital/Staff Negligence page.

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