Orange County Register Report Finds State Medical Board ‘Rarely’ Revokes Licenses of Negligent MDs
An investigation of more than 200 state physicians conducted by the Orange County Register found that a number of doctors who face lawsuits and "significant patient grievances" still practice medicine, the AP/Fresno Bee reports. According to a Register report published Sunday, the Medical Board of California has received an increased number of complaints about physicians over the past five years but has disciplined fewer of them. The report also found that although the medical board may fine and suspend "repeatedly negligent physicians," doctors "rarely" lose their licenses. Medical board staff members said that the board, which monitors 100,000 physicians statewide with a staff of 100 investigators, "can do little to patrol for bad doctors." The medical board also does not monitor lawsuits filed against physicians, and as a result, patients who do not file a complaint with the board will not have their case investigated. In addition, most complaints that the medical board receives "remain secret" from the public. The Register report found that the medical board investigates about 20% of the 10,600 complaints received from patients each year. According to the report, about 3% of doctors investigated by the medical board face formal charges, and only 1% lose their licenses. M. Gayle Askren, a retired deputy attorney general, said the board often issues "lenient punishments" when members "believe a doctor can be rehabilitated" (AP/Fresno Bee, 4/8).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.