Senate Approves Legislation to Reform State Medical Board
The Senate last week approved a bill (SB 1950) that would require the Medical Board of California to disclose more information to the public about doctors who have settled malpractice claims, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont) and approved on a 35-2 vote, would require the disclosure of all misdemeanor criminal convictions that might affect medical care, malpractice settlements against a physician that have been "upheld on appeal," training and specialty certifications, and completed investigations that were "referred to the attorney general for prosecution." The measure, which now heads to the Assembly, would also add two "public members" to the board, which now consists of 12 physicians and seven members of the public. In addition, the bill would establish an "enforcement program monitor" to evaluate the board's disciplinary system and report to lawmakers. Physicians are opposed to the public disclosure provision, saying malpractice settlements are "often made out of convenience, not because the doctor is incompetent" (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 5/29). The California Medical Association has said that the disclosure requirements would "tarnish doctors' reputations" and "do little" to help patients. Health insurers have also raised concerns that the proposed reforms would discourage doctors from settling malpractice claims, which could lead to increased premiums (California Healthline, 5/2).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.