Bill Would Strip Medical Board of Power To Investigate Physicians
Lawmakers are considering a bill (SB 304) that would eliminate the Medical Board of California's authority to investigate physician misconduct, the Sacramento Business Journal reports (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 4/26).
The board has been criticized for failing to discipline physicians accused of harming patients, particularly doctors suspected of overprescribing addictive pain medications (Glover/Girion, Los Angeles Times, 4/25).
According to a December 2012 Los Angeles Times investigation, at least 30 patients in Southern California died of prescription drug overdoses or related causes while their physicians were being investigated by the medical board.
Physicians were reprimanded or placed on probation in 80% of the 190 cases of overprescribing filed by the board since 2005. However, physicians in most of those cases were permitted to continue writing prescriptions with few or no restrictions (California Healthline, 2/7).
Details of Legislation
According to the bill -- by Sen. Curren Price (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly member Richard Gordon (D-Menlo Park) -- the California attorney general would handle investigations of physician misconduct.
The change would leave the medical board to deal mostly with licensing doctors.
Reaction to Bill
Sharon Levine, president of the medical board, said she expected that such a measure would be introduced but could not comment further before the full board discusses the bill. She said medical board members plan to meet with Price and Gordon on May 7 to discuss the issue.Meanwhile, Lynda Gledhill -- a spokesperson for state Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) -- said that Harris still is evaluating the legislation (Los Angeles Times, 4/25). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.