Proposed Legislation Would Require Board of Medicine To Post More Malpractice Information Online
A bill SB 2059) introduced in the Legislature would require the Board of Medicine to post more information about malpractice lawsuits against physicians online, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Introduced by Sen. Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont), the legislation would require that some complaints against physicians be published before a final judgment has been made by the board. Consumer advocates have praised the proposal, but it is likely to face "stiff opposition" from the California Medical Association and other industry groups, according to the Chronicle. The bill would require that all 39 of the state's licensing boards -- not just the medical board -- post disciplinary actions, criminal convictions, lawsuits and other information about licensees online (Wallack, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/14). The medical board already posts information about disciplinary actions against physicians, but information about medical malpractice settlements, misdemeanor criminal convictions and complaints against physicians is not posted (California Healthline, 1/6).
The medical association believes that malpractice settlements should remain confidential. According to CMA spokesperson Peter Warren, physicians frequently settle lawsuits, even when they have no merit, because it is less expensive than fighting the suits in court. Settling a malpractice suit "doesn't reflect the quality of a physician's treatment," Warren said. Figueroa, however, believes the information is "vital to consumers." She has introduced only a "bare-bones" version of the bill; most details will not be added until later this month. Figueroa in 1997 tried to force the medical board to post information about malpractice settlements on the Internet, but the medical association "helped thwart those efforts." She said she decided to reintroduce the issue this year due to consumers' heightened awareness about malpractice and desire for more information (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/14).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.