The Medical Board of California is charged with disciplining doctors, but once a patient who is harmed files a complaint they are locked out of the enforcement process. Families are denied the right to communicate with the board investigator, submit more information, address the provider’s comments regarding their complaint, or to discuss their case with the medical board before their case is dismissed.
Patients must have rights at each step of the enforcement process to provide input and evidence in order to ensure the Medical Board has all the facts when it investigates a doctor.
- Patients and surviving family members (“complainants”) should be interviewed before their complaint involving serious injury or death is dismissed. This should include both complaints submitted by a member of the public on behalf of themselves or a lost family member, and complaints involving patient care initiated by the Board from other means, such as news stories.
- Complainants should be contacted by board staff after the physician interview and given the opportunity to provide additional information and input in the investigation.
- Patients should have access to all records concerning their care submitted to the Board in the course of the investigation.
- Complainants must be notified following an investigation if the Board is proposing discipline or closing their complaint, and again after an accusation has been filed against the provider’s license.
While current law states that complainants must be notified before a proposed action or settlement is offered to a provider, it does not happen. This must be remedied.
- Complainants must have the right to offer a victim’s impact statement to the Deputy Attorney General once an accusation is filed, and the right to participate in hearings related to their complaint.
- Board Members should have access to all complainant communications with investigators.