The California Medical Board recently voted down a proposal that would
have required doctor to disclose to patients in writing that they have
been placed on probation. The Board is now considering a number of alternative
California doctors who have been placed on disciplinary probation are not required to notify their patients. While the information is posted
online, the website is not well known to patients and can be difficult
The lack of disclosure requirements is concerning to us as
San Diego medical malpractice lawyers given that physicians can be placed on probation for a number of serious
issues, including sexual misconduct and substance abuse. Under the proposal
set forth by Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports magazine,
doctors would be required to notify patients of probation when they call
to make appointments, post a probation notice in the office, and provide
a written notice that patients would sign.
In testimony before the Board, Marian Hollingsworth, an activist with the
Consumers Union Safe Patient Project, described how she was horrified
to discover that she had been referred to a physician who was on probation
for substance abuse and had once gone after a patient with a hatchet.
“Probation is not a minor action; it’s a major action,”
said Lisa McGiffert, director of the Consumers Union Safe Patient Project.
“Every doctor makes mistakes, but these are repeat offenders, not
isolated incidents. Their patients need to know, so they can make decisions
if they really want to continue with that doctor.”
As of September, 500 of the nearly 131,000 licensed physicians in California
were serving probation. In many cases, disciplinary proceedings result
in a doctor’s license being revoked. However, the action is often
stayed, provided that the physician completes several years of probation.
The terms vary in accordance with the offense, such as being unable to
see female patients without another person in the room, submitting to
mandatory drug testing, or completing ethics classes.
Going forward, the California Medical Board has agreed to convene a task
force to consider changes to the current disclosure process.
If you or someone you love has suffered serious harm due to medical error,
don’t hesitate to contact
a San medical negligence attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for
a free consultation. We have more 30 years of experience and are committed
to helping you protect your legal rights and pursue the appropriate compensation
for your loss.