The state board charged with protecting Californians from bad doctors is doing too little, too late. Complaints about physician mistakes and misconduct are taking almost three years (934 days) to investigate and prosecute, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times today, leaving dangerous doctors to practice while patients are unaware there was even a complaint.
Nothing much seems to have changed from three years ago, when the report of an independent monitor at the Center for Public Interest law found the same problems with enforcement delays. The legislature should revisit the report and enact real reform to ensure the board is doing its job - protecting patients, not bad doctors.
At least one avenue for concealing doctor mistakes (recommended in the report) has been closed: the medical board has cancelled a failed discipline program that allowed doctors with substance abuse problems to continue practicing, but failed to monitor them adequately and kept the information from patients. The program’s final day is June 30.
I know patients like Tomita Shimamoto, who was scarred for life when her drug-addicted doctor botched her reconstructive surgery after breast surgery, will be glad that door has been closed for good.