California enacted a new misconduct disclosure law for physicians on July 1, 2019. The “Patient’s Right to Know Act” Senate Bill 1448 was drafted by Senator Jerry Hill. This groundbreaking law requires that doctors facing a probationary discipline action obtain a signed disclosure form from all patients before their next appointment.
This is in addition to a Medical Board of California iOS app announced July 2018 for consumers that pushes out license alerts to consumers whenever their physician has received a license disciplinary action or change in license status.
Four things medical licensees need to know:
These enhanced patient’s rights initiatives from the Medical Board of California (MBC) and legislators can significantly amplify the reputation risk and consequences for disciplined doctors. Due to the potentially devastating affect to a doctor’s practice, California medical license defense attorneys are advising physicians to be extra vigilant in managing their practice and personal conduct.
1. Which offenses trigger disclosure requirement?
California’s Patient’s Right to Know Act of 2018 (SB1448) requires that patients be informed when their doctor has been placed on administrative probation for any of the following misconduct:
- Drug or alcohol abuse that results in harm to patients or when the use impairs the ability of the licensee to safely practice medicine.
- Any criminal conviction involving harm to patients.
- Inappropriate prescribing resulting in patient harm and five or more years of probation.
- Sexual misconduct with any patient as defined in BPC § 726 or BPC § 729.
2. What must be included in the disclosure?
Starting in July 1, 2019, disciplined doctors are required to obtain patient signatures on a disclosure of the following before their next patient appointment:
- The doctor’s probation status.
- The length of the probation and it’s end date.
- All practice restrictions placed on the licensee by MBC.
- An explanation of how the patient can find further information about the licensee’s probation on the licensee’s MBC website profile page.
The Medical Board of California has also enhanced the disclosures on the licensee’s MBC website profile page.
3. What types of doctors are subject to the disclosure rules?
The Patient’s Right to Know Act applies to all California healing arts licensees, including those licensed by:
4. What exceptions are allowed to the disclosure requirement?
A licensee is not be required to provide a patient disclosure when any of the following apply:
- The patient is unconscious or otherwise unable to comprehend the disclosure and sign the copy of the disclosure and a guardian or health care surrogate is unavailable to comprehend the disclosure and sign the copy.
- The visit occurs in an emergency room or an urgent care facility or the visit is unscheduled, including consultations in inpatient facilities.
- The licensee who will be treating the patient during the visit is not known to the patient until immediately prior to the start of the visit.
- The licensee does not have a direct treatment relationship with the patient.
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⤓ Download Patient’s Right to Know Act fact sheet
6 proactive steps for physicians
Here are 6 proactive steps you can take to protect your practice:
- “Audit how you identify, keep track of and handle patient complaints. Consider assigning someone or a service to monitor complaints and stay out in front of them.
- If your practice has multiple doctors, ensure good information sharing and visibility of potential risks that can affect the whole office.
- Work to eliminate patient frustrations and increase patient satisfaction to reduce the urge to post complaints.
- Evaluate and consider using chaperones and giving patients the option to opt out of a chaperone, especially for male doctors in ob-gyn practices.
- If you’re going to drink alcohol when you go out, make it a habit not to drive. Use a service such as Uber.
- Be extremely careful to avoid any potential criminal conduct such as substance abuse or prescription violations.”
To learn more, call Chudnovsky Law at (844) 325-1444 to setup a consultation, or visit:
Chudnovsky Law’s team of attorneys have over 65 combined years of experience representing every type of licensed health care professional throughout California.
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This information does not constitute legal advice and does not create a attorney/client relationship. No representations are made as to the accuracy of this information and appropriate legal counsel should be consulted before taking any actions. Contact us for a consultation regarding your case facts.
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Written by Robert Weinberg and Tsion Chudnovsky.