Los Angeles, CA – Assemblymember Bill Quirk and the California State Assembly Committee on Business and Professions took an unprecedented step today to restore the public’s trust in their medical board by voting to support a public board member majority. AB 2060 (Quirk) was voted out of committee today and will be heard next in Assembly Appropriations committee. This bill will make California the first state in the country to require its medical board to be led by a majority of public board members.
Seventeen families whose lives were forever altered by medical negligence, and California’s cap on compensation, voiced their overwhelming support for the bill in testimony before the committee.
The idea of a public board member majority has been a topic of discussion in the legislature and before the medical board for the past year. Testimony from legions of advocate families who have themselves been harmed or lost their loved ones to medical negligence moved the medical board to support and seek legislation creating a public board member majority.
Alka Airy’s sister Shilpa, a research scientist who helped develop medication for a rare children’s cancer, died after enduring medical negligence at two separate San Francisco hospitals. Alka reported her sister’s preventable death to the medical board who chose to dismiss her complaint with no investigation.
“We need a public board member majority to restore public trust and reiterate the medical board’s independence from special interest groups,” stated Alka Airy from San Francisco. “There is a troubling yet growing perception that the medical board is beholden to physicians, rather than the public it serves to protect. A public member majority is the first step in protecting the rights of Californians.”
Xavier De Leon’s son, Malakhi, only lived for 18 hours. His mother was denied care for undiagnosed preeclampsia. Following his birth by postmortem c-section, Malakhi experienced a cascade of errors. Xavier and his family tried to file a complaint with the medical board but were discouraged from doing so. The doctor who was found to be responsible for gross negligence in the care of his mother was a repeat offender doctor who had been harming mothers and babies in Kern County for 25 years.
De Leon attended the meeting remotely and offered his support of the bill on the day that his son died from medical negligence. Had Malakhi lived, it would have been his third birthday today. “Families need accountability from this medical board,” stated De Leon. “I believe that a public board member majority will provide the first step to consumer protection.”
If AB 2060 is passed, it will make California the first state in the country to have a public board member-led board. The California Medical Board is the sponsor of the bill and Board President Kristina Lawson testified in support of the bill.
Organizing by injured families in California has been the foundation of this movement for a public member majority.
California injured families are also organizing to pass the Fairness for Injured Patients Act, a movement to update California’s 1975 cap on compensation for medical negligence victims. The current cap not only limits access to the courtroom but is a huge barrier to families’ recovery from lifelong harm and their ability to seek accountability for their loved ones.
Learn more about California’s injured families at https://patientsforfairness.org
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