Medical Board to Draft Improvement Recommendations to Present Before Joint Legislative Committee
The Medical Board of California agreed yesterday to present the state Legislature with recommendations for improving the way the board disciplines physicians and discloses complaints to the public, the Orange Country Register reports. Responding to an investigation by the Register published earlier this month, state lawmakers gave the board 115 questions to address before May 1, when the Legislature's Joint Legislative Sunset Review Committee will convene to decide whether to disband the board (Saar, Orange County Register, 4/25). The Register report found that the board investigates about 20% of the 10,600 complaints it receives from patients each year and does not disclose most complaints to the public. It also found that although the medical board may fine and repeatedly suspend negligent physicians, doctors rarely lose their licenses (California Healthline, 4/10). At the May 1 hearing, the board will request that lawmakers approve legislation to:
- Allow the board to issue "administrative search warrants" to permit board investigators to more quickly obtain doctors' records from hospitals.
- Authorize the board to intervene in "particularly egregious cases" and assist the Attorney General's office in issuing "interim suspension orders" against "rogue physicians."
- Increase the amount of information the board is able to disclose publicly about doctors' pasts.
- Create an independent monitor within the Department of Consumer Affairs to oversee how the board handles doctor discipline. The monitor would report to the Legislature every six months on how to improve the board, according to Kathleen Hamilton, director of the department.
"When we go in front of the Sunset Review Committee, it's important that we have proposals," Dr. Hazem Chehabi, a member of the medical board, said, adding, "(We should ask ourselves), what are the frustrations, what are the limitations, why do we take so long?" (Orange County Register, 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.