POLICING DOCTORS: CMA, Medical Board Spar Over Issue
Two stories this week in the San Diego Union-Tribune report on conflicts between the Medical Board of California and the California Medical Association concerning physician discipline. In Monday's issue, the Union-Tribune relays how the CMA lobbied to halt the Medical Board's push to increase physicians' license fees by $45 a year -- an increase the Medical Board said was needed to hire more investigators. The Medical Board has accused the CMA of "bargaining in bad faith" to oppose the bill, but "CMA officials have defended blocking the fee increase, calling it 'our leverage' in efforts to reduce board punishment[s]." CMA President Dr. Robert Reid, however, recently "took a more conciliatory stance, saying the medical board 'may well need a fee increase' to be strong." The Medical Board has vowed to resurrect the fee-increase legislation next year, but the CMA said it "won't back the legislation until it meets with the approval of its membership" (Dalton, 11/30).
Yesterday's issue features an article about a law enacted in August that places a statute of limitations on when doctors can be disciplined. The Union-Tribune reports that the law -- which requires the Medical Board to file an accusation against a doctor "within three years of notification of a potential problem or within seven years of when an alleged offense occurred" -- "is creating a legal nightmare for the state." Coupled with not having enough investigators, Medical Board officials say the statute of limitations increases "the potential for incompetent doctors to go unscrutinized." The CMA, however, supports the measure, saying it is "needed to speed up the medical board's probes and provide more due process to physicians" (Dalton, 12/1).