On July 1, a new California law changed the Medical Board of California’s guidelines for posting physicians and surgeons’ disciplinary information to the public. Last August, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1886, which requires the Board to post the most serious disciplinary information, including enforcement actions, disciplinary actions, civil judgments, arbitration awards, and certain misdemeanor convictions, to their website indefinitely.
Previously, most public disciplinary information regarding currently and formerly licensed physicians was posted on the Board’s website for a period of ten years. In 2013, the first year public records were removed from the online database, almost 7,000 records were taken down, followed by the removal of 30 to 40 records per month. The Board supported AB 1886 because it felt the ten-year limit should be removed to make physician records more transparent. Applicable records that were previously removed will be reposted under the new law.
To appease the California Medical Association’s concerns about disciplinary actions being posted indefinitely, the law features posting-period reductions in several areas, including malpractice settlement information (from ten years to five years) and citations (from five years to three years). An outline of the Board’s new website posting requirements is included below.
The following actions against a physician will be posted online indefinitely:
- Revocations, suspensions, or surrenders – or other equivalent actions taken by another state — including the related accusation.
- Probation or other equivalent action ordered by the board or another state, including the related accusation.
- Felony convictions.
- Misdemeanor convictions resulting in a disciplinary action or an accusation that is not subsequently withdrawn or dismissed.
- Civil judgments issued in any amount, whether or not vacated by a settlement after entry of the judgment, that were not reversed on appeal “for a claim or action for damages for death or personal injury caused by the physician and surgeon’s negligence, error, or omission in practice, or by his or her rendering of unauthorized professional services.”
- Arbitration awards issued in any amount, “for a claim or action for damages for death or personal injury caused by the physician and surgeon’s negligence, error, or omission in practice, or by his or her rendering of unauthorized professional services.”
- Revocation or termination of hospital staff privileges for medical disciplinary cause or reason, as long as the revocation remains in effect.
The following actions will be posted online for ten years:
- Public letters of reprimand issued within the past ten years by the board or the board of another jurisdiction, including the related accusation.
- Hospital staff privileges that have been revoked or terminated but later restored.
The following action will be posted online for five years:
- Malpractice settlements in the amount of $30,000 or more “of any claim or action for damages for death or personal injury caused by the physician and surgeon’s negligence, error, or omission in practice, or by his or her rendering of unauthorized professional services.” Note: these will only be posted if a physician who is considered to be in a “high risk” practice category has four or more settlements in five years, or if a physician in a “low risk” practice category has three or more settlements in five years.
The following action will be posted online for three years:
- Citations issued within the last three years that have been resolved by payment of the administrative fine or compliance with the order of abatement.
The following actions will be posted online only during the time when, as the law states, “the licensee is actively subjected” to:
- Temporary restraining orders.
- Interim suspension orders.
- Revocations, suspensions, probations, or limitations on practice ordered by the board or the board of another state.
- Current accusations filed by the attorney general.
- Citations issued that have not been resolved or appealed within 30 days.
If you have any questions about how this law affects any past or pending disciplinary actions, or have any other legal inquiries, please contact the attorneys at Carlson & Jayakumar at (949) 222-2008 or visit us at www.cjattorneys.com.