• The Star Staff

Health professionals urged to report non-compliance with hospital regulations

By John McPhaul


Health Secretary Lorenzo González Feliciano urged health professionals on Sunday to report any non-compliance with the regulations of hospital facilities in Puerto Rico, as well as the lack of protections in caring for COVID-19 patients.

“There are formal mechanisms for reporting situations that threaten the health and safety of health professionals,” González Feliciano said. “The Medical Licensing and Discipline Board, the Nursing Examining Board and the Auxiliary Secretary for Health Facility Regulation and Accreditation [SARAFS by its Spanish acronym] have mechanisms for investigating complaints and taking immediate action. We are committed to the first line of medical defense in facing this pandemic, so we want to guarantee that the protocols are complied with and that they feel safe in the exercise of their functions.”

Faced with complaints reported in the media in recent days by the Nursing Professionals Association and representatives of the Practical Nurses Association about the risks faced by these professionals in hospitals and emergency rooms, Norma Torres, executive director of the Licensing and Medical Discipline Board and the Office of Regulation of Health Professionals, requested that the due complaints about irregularities be presented immediately, so that those regulatory bodies can carry out the process of evaluation and adjudication of responsibilities, and take appropriate action.

“It is extremely important that health professionals know that we have a responsibility to ensure compliance with regulations in their work centers,” said Torres, an attorney. “Safety is paramount for us, so we urge you to formally address your concerns, to take firm and immediate action.”

SARAFS Assistant Secretary Verónica Núñez reiterated that “every hospital must have assigned the nursing staff and other health professionals necessary for the proper functioning of all departments, including, but not limited to, the emergency rooms.”

“Likewise, you are required to have an employee health program designed to prevent disease transmission,” she said. “It is necessary to include sufficient protective equipment for staff, especially in these times of COVID. If any hospital facility does not comply with these regulations, we will take pertinent action, but we need the appropriate channels to be followed.”

The Office of Investigations also conducts interventions to ensure compliance with regulations by employers, Núñez added.

Nurses and other health professionals who want to report non-compliance with the aforementioned requirements can contact SARAFS at 787-764-2929 ext. 4701, 4702 and 4750. In turn, they can send an email to the following address: sarafsquerellas@salud.pr.gov.

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