New California law requires mammo facilities to post violation notices

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A new California law went into effect Jan. 1, requiring medical providers that operate mammography devices to post notices of serious violations issued by state inspectors in places where patients and staff can easily see them.

The law was sponsored by California State Sen. Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach. In introducing the bill in April 2009, Oropeza referred to the fact that while state law required that facilities conducting mammograms undergo annual inspections, if a facility was cited for a violation there was nothing in the law directing where those notices of violation should be posted.

In an opinion piece published on her Web site, Oropeza wrote that there have been instances of imaging facilities failing inspections yet continuing to operate without rectifying the problems that caused the violations. “So, some of these clinics do not seem to take the law gravely enough,” wrote Oropeza. “Having to post a notification might force them to improve. If we do think annual inspections are important, then we should make sure that it leads to safe, reliable mammograms and that the law is not flaunted. Knowing violations must be posted would give women greater confidence in the medical offices they patronize.”

The bill was passed unanimously by the California State Assembly and by a 33-3 margin in the California Senate.

The new legislation requires facilities to post the notice of violation within two working days after receipt of documents from the California Department of Public Health and that the documents remain posted for a minimum of five working days or until the action correcting the violation has been completed, whichever occurs later.

For purposes of the law, a serious violation is defined as a Level 1 deviation from the federal Mammography Quality Standards Act of 1992—one that “may seriously compromise the quality of mammography services that offered by the facility.”