Health pros must reveal background

Patients who want to know more about the people helping their doctors treat them will have a place to turn soon to get that information.

In addition to details about the backgrounds of their doctors, a new state law going into effect next year will allow patients to get the same information for surgical assistants, nurses, mental health professionals and even chiropractors and acupuncturists.

That new law, approved by the Colorado Legislature earlier this year, is an expansion of the Michael Skolnik Transparency Act, a law that went into effect in 2008 to provide patients with background information about doctors in the state.

It was passed after Skolnik, a 25-year-old Denver resident, died after undergoing brain surgery. His neurologist, David Wayne Miller, who now practices in Glenwood Springs, was embroiled in a malpractice lawsuit at the time, something Skolnik’s family has said might have spurred them to get a second opinion before approving the operation.

As a result, the Colorado Legislature approved a measure that requires doctors to list more detailed information about their past work, such as: where else they have been licensed to practice, whether they’ve had a judgment or settlement in a malpractice case, or whether a medical malpractice insurer has ever denied them coverage.

Miller also practices in the Grand River Medical Center in Rifle. His physician profile on the Colorado Division of Registrations website shows he practiced in Nebraska, Ohio and Georgia before coming to Colorado, settled two malpractices cases in Colorado and Georgia, and once was denied coverage.

Jacki Arcelin, health care professions manager for the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, which oversees the division, said the information isn’t intended to scare people away from specific medical professionals, only to give them more information about them.

“Our goal is to try to make sure more people know about this,” she said. “The physicians have been doing it, so now we’re expanding it to others. Right now we’re trying to make this work for multiple professions.”

Starting next year, doctors will be joined by members of 12 other medical professions who will have to provide information about their backgrounds. Because those backgrounds will be different from physicians, though, the department is in the process of drafting just what information they must reveal.

Arcelin said it will include such things as business ownership interests, medical affiliations and disciplinary actions against them.



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