Some in the industry say staffing firms already have an able watchdog.
This seal is displayed prominently on firms' websites. Some hospitals will use only agencies that have it.
But the program is voluntary and used by a minority of temp agencies -- 337 firms -- in part because they must pay the commission thousands of dollars to be reviewed. Most of the largest firms are certified.
The commission doesn't release detailed findings on the firms, even to hospitals. It has withdrawn its seal of approval from temporary staffing agencies seven times this year -- all but once for nonpayment of fees.
At the same time, firms that display the seal have been cited in audits, nursing board records and court files for bad judgment or behavior.
Joseph Baiden, owner of JFB Staffing in Diamond Bar, was arrested in August on charges of defrauding the state workers' compensation fund of $1.4 million by misrepresenting the number of nurses on his payroll.
Some hospitals cut ties with JFB, and authorities froze Baiden's bank accounts and seized his property.
Although Baiden has pleaded not guilty, his attorney Tracy Green said that she is working toward a resolution with the district attorney's office and that Baiden plans to repay whatever he owes.
In the meantime, on the Joint Commission's website, there is a gold seal of approval by the JFB name.
Problems no barrier
Paystaff Pacific not only hired nurse Raphael Obiora in 2007 despite his troubled past, it also kept sending him out when it learned he wasn't a skilled nurse, documents show.
In a little more than a year, seven hospitals rejected Obiora, telling Paystaff he'd made a medication error, failed to follow a doctor's order and been "inappropriate" with a patient's relative.
Hospital managers use such rejection notices, known as "Do Not Sends," to alert agencies to the shortcomings of temp nurses. But the agencies are under no obligation to act on the information.
In April 2008, the Monterey Park firm dispatched Obiora to Garfield Medical Center. There, he failed to adequately monitor the vital signs of two critically ill patients. His conduct was "unsafe," wrote Simon Marcus, the hospital's critical care director, on a form he sent to Paystaff.
Unknown to the hospital, Paystaff had already evaluated Obiora and found his competence to be below average. Shortly before he was sent to Garfield, the firm had determined that he should be fired immediately, according to agency records that became part of a regulatory proceeding.
Only after Marcus raised an alarm did Paystaff fire Obiora.
Hugh Wu, a Paystaff official, said in an e-mail that the company acted responsibly. Other complaints about Obiora were not as serious as Garfield's, he said, and Obiora had hidden state nursing board discipline against his license.
Obiora, an evangelist who preaches at a Celestial Church of Christ in Gardena, ultimately lost his California license.