Gridlock in Sacramento Threatens to Dismantle Patient Protections Across California

July 12, 2017

Legislation to reauthorize the Medical Board of California stalled Tuesday amid disagreements over potential reforms, which include requiring physicians to disclose their probation status to patients for offenses such as deadly medical errors

NBC Bay Area
By Bigad Shaban and Kevin Nious
Investigative Unit

The Medical Board of California – responsible for investigating and disciplining physicians – is in danger of being dismantled at the end of the year.

The state Legislature must reauthorize the medical board every four years if the agency is to continue serving as California’s top medical watchdog. The medical board, however, has been plagued with criticism for failing to adequately regulate doctors and protect patients. The ongoing debate on how to best reform the agency reached a tipping point Tuesday during the Assembly’s Business and Professions Committee hearing.

While lawmakers were scheduled to vote on a bill reauthorizing the Medical Board of California, a lack of support for the proposed reforms resulted in a stalemate. Lawmakers opted not to cast their votes on the bill, which now threatens the very existence of the medical board.

“There are some in the Legislature that would rather support and protect doctors than patients,” said Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo. “That’s what we saw today.”

Hill, who chairs the Senate’s Business and Professions Committee, authored the medical board’s reauthorization bill. As the Investigative Unit first reported in May, the legislation includes a list of major reforms.

Among them is a requirement for doctors to tell their patients if they have been placed on probation by the medical board for harming patients