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California Bill Requires Doctors to Disclose Probation Status

California lawmakers are currently considering legislation that would help protect patients from potentially dangerous doctors. It would require physicians and surgeons, osteopathic physicians and surgeons, podiatrists, acupuncturists, chiropractors and naturopathic doctors to notify patients of their probationary status before visits take place.

“Californians have a right to know whether their doctor has been put on probation for behavior that could endanger their health,” said Lisa McGiffert, manager of Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project. “This bill will ensure that patients aren’t left in the dark and get the notice they deserve when their doctors have a history of serious misconduct.”

As we have previously discussed on this San Diego Injury Blog, the Medical Board of California rejected a proposal by Consumers Union to require patient notification. Pursuant to SB 1033, doctors would be required to proactively notify their patients when they have been put on probation for serious offenses, such as sexual misconduct, substance abuse, gross negligence, or a felony conviction related to patient care and treatment. Physicians who are repeatedly placed on probation would also have to inform their patients.

While approximately 600 California doctors are currently on probation, patients are often unaware. Under existing regulations, 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 to navigate.

In support of the proposed law, Consumers Union cites a California doctor who was placed on probation until 2022 for 40 instances of negligence, including the removal of the wrong ovary and two patient deaths. Despite the obvious patient safety concerns, the Medical Board allowed the doctor to keep practicing on the condition that he completes courses in clinical training, ethics, and medical record-keeping.

For patients who are concerned about the status of their doctors, Consumers Union recently compiled a list of California doctors on probation as of September 29, 2015 using data obtained from the Medical Board of California. It is available here.

If you or someone you care about has suffered serious harm due to a medical error, you may be entitled to compensation, including pain and suffering damages and reimbursement of medical expenses. To discuss your legal rights, please contact a San Diego medical malpractice lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.