New Practices for Probation Status Disclosure

A new California law requiring practitioners to disclose a probation status to their patients went into effect on July 1, 2019.

Last September, then-Govenor Jerry Brown signed the “Patient’s Right to Know Act of 2018” (SB 1448 by Senator Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo), the first-in-the-nation law requiring practitioners to notify their patients if their license is on probation for the following offenses:

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  • Any act of sexual abuse, misconduct, or relations with a patient or client;
  • Drug or alcohol abuse directly resulting in harm to patients or to the extent that such use impairs the ability of the practitioner to practice safely;
  • Criminal conviction directly involving harm to patient health; or
  • Inappropriate prescribing resulting in harm to patients and a probationary period of five years or more.

Previously, when a physician was put on probation, he or she was only legally required to notify their malpractice coverage provider and any affiliated hospitals or clinics. Under the new law, the Medical Board of California (MBC) will now require all physicians disciplined by their regulatory board to obtain a signed disclosure from all patients before a patient’s next appointment. The disclosure must include:

  1. The physician's probation status.
  2. The length of the probation and end date.
  3. The practice restrictions placed on the medical licensee by the MBC.
  4. An explanation of how the patient can find further information about the licensee’s probation on the licensee’s MBC website profile page.

The new law applies to physicians and surgeons (including osteopaths and naturopathic doctors), chiropractors, podiatrists, and acupuncturists. 

The MBC has long-carried physician information on its website but amendments to the law placed the focus on the minority of doctors who commit egregious misconduct. “We never tried to protect those doctors, and we never will,” said Ted Mazer, MD, CAP member, and past president of the California Medical Association when interviewed by a local news channel. Dr. Mazer added that it was important to the CMA that physicians who had been disciplined for lesser wrongdoings that did no harm to patients — such as deficits in medical recordkeeping — would not have to reveal the disciplinary action to their patients.  

 

Gabriela Villanueva is CAP’s Public Affairs Analyst. Questions or comments related to this article should be directed to gvillanueva@CAPphysicians.com.