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California probes whether Kaiser call centers endanger patients

Sacramento Bee, January 12, 2009
Worried that Kaiser Permanente may be letting unlicensed staffers make medical decisions, California is investigating the HMO's call centers and plans to demand documents that Kaiser has refused to surrender. The probe began in response to a nurse's complaints that mishandled calls are leaving Kaiser patients vulnerable to misdiagnoses and delayed care. The investigation is also shedding light on a 2003 state law that was intended to block using a semi-automated system to let people with no medical training determine how quickly a patient is seen. Kaiser contends those call center employees have so little discretion they don't actually make any medical decisions, they just follow scripts written by doctors.