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Governor Gregoire Requests Performance Audit of Health Care Licensing

For Immediate Release: May 4, 2006

Governor issues Executive Order, directs Department of Health to increase patient safety

OLYMPIA - Governor Chris Gregoire today sent a letter to Auditor Brian Sonntag requesting his office conduct a performance audit of the Department of Health and the sixteen independent boards and commissions that oversee and regulate the health profession and health care providers in Washington.

“My resolve to keep patients safe in our state is stronger than ever,” said Governor Gregoire. “It is our responsibility to all Washingtonians to look for every way possible to protect patients and improve our system for licensing and disciplining health care providers.”

The Governor has requested that the auditor evaluate the professional licensing, oversight and disciplinary system and suggest internal changes that would support a more effective disciplinary practice.

The Governor also issued an Executive Order effective immediately that directs all health profession disciplining authorities to establish a comprehensive and consistent state approach for addressing sexual misconduct.

In response to issues described recently by a Seattle Times series, Governor Gregoire sent a letter to Mary Selecky directing the Department of Health to conduct an immediate review of the feasibility of national criminal background checks on new applicants and current credential holders and review the statute and regulations for registered counselors.

Governor Gregoire has raised several key concerns with the current system of licensing and discipline: that the system is not investigating and disciplining providers well enough to protect the public; that the state is inconsistent in how it regulates the different health care professions in Washington; and that the state does not have uniform practices in place to investigate sexual misconduct by health care providers.