The Los Angeles Times reported the nonprofit Public Citizen disclosed a report Tuesday revealing that “California’s medical board failed to discipline 710 troubled doctors even as they were disciplined by hospitals, surgical centers and other healthcare organizations in the state.” Board investigators took “more than 400 days on average to complete an investigation,” the report said, although state law requires investigations to be completed within 180 days. Public Citizen’s Dr. Sidney Wolfe questioned why the board doesn’t take action when hospital or HMO’s do, noting that “Hospitals rarely discipline doctors. When they do, it’s usually for very serious infractions.” Medical Board spokesman Jennifer Simoes responded saying, “We believe more data needs to be obtained, but like many state agencies, we have a 20% vacancy rate and we’re trying to focus on our core functions.”
The AP notes that the 710 physicians were “among 1,312 California physicians disciplined for wrongdoing during that time by other health care groups such as hospitals and health maintenance organizations, according to a letter sent to Brown by Sid Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s health research group.” Moreover, fewer than 50% of the doctors “who were punished also faced disciplinary action from the board,” he said. Public Citizen on Tuesday asked Gov. Jerry Brown to “accelerate California’s process for disciplining physicians.”
From the American Association for Justice news release.