SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A new bill has been signed into law that makes notable reforms to the Medical Board of California.
State Senator Richard D. Roth introduced SB 815 which was passed by both chambers on Sep.14 of this year.
“These are historic reforms, which say to patients, ‘We´re listening, we hear you, we’re empowering you and we’re giving you a stronger voice in this process,’ “ said State Senator Roth. “This legislation contains key transparency and accountability reforms that protect and empower patients, guarantee swifter patient-centric action for physicians facing discipline, and provide the Medical Board with added revenue to bring it back from the fiscal cliff it has been hanging from for years. I greatly appreciate the Governor signing this substantial legislation into law.”
Some of those key reforms are:
- Establishes a Complainant Liaison Unit at the Medical Board that is responsible for: responding to public comments about the complaint review and enforcement process; assisting with field investigations; responding to questions about the appeal process following disciplinary action; coordinating and supporting public outreach activities; and evaluating and responding to comments after a case is closed but the complainant believes the case merits further investigation
- Requires complaints involving quality of care include an interview of the complainant, patient, or patient representative before the complaint is closed
- Require the Medical Board to provide complainants, patients, or patient representatives with an opportunity to provide a statement when a complaint is referred for further investigation
- Provides that a conviction of a "serious felony" by a physician, including the sale or transfer of fentanyl, whether in the course of the physician's practice of medicine or otherwise, shall constitute cause for licensure revocation without requiring expert witness testimony to prove the relationship between the felony conviction and the practice of medicine
- Adds the following acts by a physician to the list of "unprofessional conduct" that warrants discipline: Actions intended to cause a patient or patient representative to rescind consent to release the patient's medical records to the Medical Board or Medical Board investigators; Dissuading, intimidating, or tampering with a patient, witness, or any other person in an attempt to prevent them from testifying or reporting; Failing to attend and participate in an investigative interview within 30 calendar days of being notified
- Allows the Medical Board to receive expert witness reports and related materials earlier than before, during the pretrial and settlement process
- Changes the timeframe within which a probation modification my be requested
- Requires physicians to maintain patient records for at least seven years after the last date of service with the patient
- Provides the Medical Board with increased revenue by increasing physician licensee fees from $863 every two years to $1,151 every two years effective Jan. 1, 2024 and to $1,255 every two years beginning Jan. 1, 2027