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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on American Indians' access to quality health care services, focusing on the: (1) Indian Health Service's (IHS) efforts to ensure that temporary physicians working in IHS facilities are qualified and competent to perform assigned duties; and (2) extent that medical services are delayed under the IHS Contract Health Services Program.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Public Health Service 1. The Assistant Secretary for Health, Public Health Service, should ensure that the Director, IHS, revises the IHS credentials and privileges policy to explicitly state that the status of all state medical licenses, both active and inactive, should be verified.
Closed - Implemented
IHS Circular 95-16, "Credentials and Privileges Review Process for the Medical Staff," was approved December 8, 1995, and requires verification of all state licenses, active and inactive.
Public Health Service 2. The Assistant Secretary for Health, Public Health Service, should ensure that the Director, IHS, develops standard provisions to include in contracts with locum tenens companies that require a company to verify and inform IHS of the status of all state medical licenses, both active and inactive.
Closed - Implemented
On June 2, 1995, the Associate Director of IHS's Office of Administration and Management directed all area contracting officers to place in all existing and new contracts language requiring companies that recruit locum tenens to verify and inform IHS of the status of all state medical licenses, both active and inactive.
Public Health Service 3. The Assistant Secretary for Health, Public Health Service, should ensure that the Director, IHS, establishes a system that will facilitate the dissemination of information among IHS facilities on the performance of temporary physicians who provide services in IHS.
Closed - Implemented
On September 29, 1995, IHS contracted with the Federation of State Medical Boards to perform agencywide credentialing checks on a weekly basis of temporary physicians working in IHS facilities. The Federation will provide IHS with information on previous adverse or disciplinary actions taken against these physicians, and the information will be kept in the central office.

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