California’s Medical Board Will Not Fade into the Sunset

The Medical Board of California (“Board”), and its enacting legislation, the Medical Practice Act, which licenses and regulates California’s physicians, has officially been extended another four years. Governor Brown signed California’s Senate Bill No.798, which extends the Board’s sunset date to January 1, 2022.  Of interest to physicians brought before the Board on disciplinary actions and their lawyers, Governor Brown signed the bill with the following statement: “To the Members of the California State Senate: I am signing Senate Bill 798, which extends the sunset for the Medical Board of California and the Osteopathic Medical Board of California from January 1, 2018, to January 1, 2022. Two issues were identified during the legislative process requiring further review: vertical enforcement and the exchange of expert witness reports between a doctor under investigation and the Medical Board. I am directing my staff to work with the Legislature and the Attorney General’s Office to determine what changes are needed.”
Vertical enforcement refers to the fact that since 2006, the Board has used a model requiring the simultaneous assignment of a complaint to an investigator and a Deputy Attorney General who handle the matter for the duration of the case in the hopes of fostering a collaborative culture of enforcement.  From the perspective of those who defend physicians and surgeons before the Board, it hammers home how important it is for any licensee under investigation to consult with an experienced attorney well in advance of any interview.
The expert witness reports reference that the new bill prohibits expert testimony at a licensee’s hearing unless an expert report has been exchanged 30 days prior to the hearing, or otherwise via court order.
Senate Bill 798 illustrates how an unrepresented physician can encounter all kinds of procedural pitfalls in the defense of one’s license.  If you have been contacted by the Board for any reason, please seek experienced counsel.