California Medical Board Failed to Discipline Hundreds Of Doctors

Over 700 doctors who were disciplined by hospitals, surgical centers, and healthcare organizations statewide were not disciplined by California’s medical board. The troubling information was part of a report issued by Public Citizen, a nonprofit, Washington, D.C. organization, said the Los Angeles Times.

Public Citizen analyzed physician records from 1990 to 2009 from the National Practitioner Data Bank, a database used by the Department of Health & Human Services for the purpose of tracking physician discipline issues and payments for actions, including medical malpractice, explained the Lost Angeles Times. Doctor names and workplaces were not supplied.

The Orange County Register noted that these doctors lost hospital privileges for issues including malpractice, incompetence, and considerably significant mistakes that were not disciplined by state regulators. Worse, the Medical Board of California appears disinterested, according to Public Citizen’s letter to the Governor, said the Orange County Register.

Dr. Sidney Wolfe of Public Citizen wrote—five months ago—to the Medical Board of California’s medical director, Linda Whitney, telling her that the group’s analysis of the National Practitioner Data Bank revealed that 710 physicians had their privileges restricted by either a California hospital or another medical entity during the time frame analyzed and that these physicians were never disciplined by the state board, the Orange County Register reported.

Of the 710 doctors, 102 were deemed an “immediate threat to health or safety of patients,” said the Orange County Register, citing the letter. Some records are particularly disturbing and include doctors with multiple clinical privilege actions, permanent privilege losses, multiple—one as many as a whopping 15—medical malpractice payouts, patients suffering significant and permanent injuries, objects being left patients’ bodies, improper performance, severe disfigurement, and devastating damage, to name just some. As of December 2009, none were ever disciplined by the Medical Board of California.

The Board’s response was described as “tepid,” said the Orange County Register; the letter discussed budget and staff cuts. “Resources permitting, the board will endeavor to respond to your requests, as it is always interested in improving public protection,” according to letter sent to Wolfe this April, written by an attorney for the board, said the LA Times.

Wolfe said that the board has never asked which physicians were involved, so he wrote to Governor Jerry Brown, detailing the matter and discussing his concerns over a medical board that is not protecting California patients from physicians with established problematic records and is not appropriately reviewing and disciplining these, said the Orange County Register.

“I hope, because of the threat posed to California patients by such dangerously inadequate medical board activity, you will order an independent investigation of these serious problems,” Wolfe wrote, reported Orange County Register.

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