Hundreds of California doctors on probation

SAN DIEGO - According to a new report, hundreds of doctors across California are on probation, some accused of serious crimes.

The report comes ahead of a California State Senate committee meeting.

"My fathers death was due to deliberate medical harm,” said patient advocate Marian Hollingsworth.

Hollingsworth says she will be testifying in front of the committee about what happened to her father.

A practicing dentist for more than 50 years, she says her father’s death drove her to become a patient’s safety advocate.

“I think people should have the right to know if their doctor is safe,” she said.

Among the items on the Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development committee’s agenda, a review of the Medical Board of California.

One of the recommendations being made by the committee staff, “Amended to ensure that patients receive timely notification of their physician’s probationary status, that patients are easily able to obtain understandable information about violations leading to probation, and that MBC makes changes to the disciplinary enforcement information displayed on its website to allow for easier public access and understanding of actions MBC has taken.”

It’s igniting a debate on whether patients should be told if their doctor is on probation.

In 2016 State Senator Jerry Hill proposed SB 1033 which would have taken similar action as what’s being recommend by committee staff, “Requires physicians, podiatrists, acupuncturists and chiropractors on probation for serious offenses such as sexual misconduct, substance abuse, gross negligence, or a felony conviction related to patient care to notify patients of their probationary status before visits take place.”

The bill didn’t pass.

Ahead of Monday’s hearing a report was released with a list of doctors on probation, allowed to continue practicing if they follow certain terms and conditions.

According to the list, 44 of those are in San Diego County.

The Medical Board of California tells Team 10 there are approximately 635 doctors on probation.

It’s less than one percent of the 135,375 current licensed California physicians.

In a statement a spokesperson for the California Medical Associating wrote, “CMA is committed to ensuring patient safety and supports a strong medical board. It’s also paramount that due process is observed.  As a result, we have been working with Assemblywoman Anna Caballero, former Secretary of the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, to sponsor AB 505 which requires the most egregious allegations to go through a full hearing process so that the medical board has a finding effect before deciding upon disciplinary actions. This will protect due process but allow the medical board to appropriately discipline bad actors and protect California patients."

Marian Hollingsworth believes the system needs an overhaul.

"People will have knowledge and have their own informed consent,” she said. “People can have control over their own health care."

Right now you can check up on your doctor’s license and check for any disciplinary actions using the states license search site.

In a statement to a spokesperson for the Medical Board of California wrote, “The Board will be providing a response to the issues raised by the Senate and Assembly Business and Professions Committees that were listed in the background paper released February 22, 2017 both at the hearing on February 27, and in writing by March 27, 2017. In regard to patient notification, the Board is still looking into this issue and held an interested parties meeting on January 11, 2017 to discuss potential changes to the disciplinary guidelines regarding patient notification. As you may be aware, the Board took a neutral if amended position on the bill proposed last year, SB 1033, regarding patient notification. The Board will review any legislation introduced this year and take a position at its quarterly Board meeting.”

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