Medical Board Patient Bill of Rights: Accountability

Consumer Watchdog works with families across the state of California who have lost loved ones or been harmed themselves by preventable medical negligence. None of these families has been satisfied with the outcome of their complaint to the Medical Board of California, charged with protecting the public from dangerous doctors. Patients feel neither heard, valued nor protected by the Medical Board charged with their safety and the safety of all Californians. 

The Board fails to obtain basic facts from patients who submit complaints about harm, takes years to conduct investigations when they are opened, and negotiates settlements with doctors for discipline that falls far short of its own guidelines. Even physicians with decades-long histories of gross negligence resulting in patient deaths rarely lose their license at the hands of the Medical Board of California. 

To ensure doctors are held accountable for harm:

  • All death and serious bodily injury complaints must be referred to investigation, similar to the Department of Consumer Affairs regulations that other health care licensing boards must follow.
  • Medical board enforcement staff must be required to accept new evidence from patients, including investigative reports from other state departments, and must collaborate with outside investigative departments to provide complainants with thorough investigations.

An example of evidence from other agencies the Board frequently ignores:  Statements of Deficiencies from the Department of Public Health, which result from state investigations that require hospitals to take corrective action when harm occurs. 

  • Change California’s burden of proof to be consistent with 41 other state boards by changing the burden of proof from clear and convincing evidence to a preponderance of evidence. 
  • Bring case outcomes in line with Board’s minimum disciplinary guidelines, and require public justification of any deviation from initial charge. 
  • Change the composition of the medical board from a physician majority to a public member majority.

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