Gov. Brown signs Sen. Ted W. Lieu to improve consumer protections from bad doctors

October 03, 2013

Governor signs renewal of state medical board

SACRAMENTO – Medical patients will have improved protections from bad doctors under a Sen. Ted W. Lieu bill signed today by Gov. Brown.

As signed into law, Senate Bill 304 will allow the California Medical Board to operate through 2018 and enhance the board’s ability to take action against dangerous physicians and surgeons.

The board has faced scrutiny in the past related to significant delays in enforcement actions and failures to provide necessary consumer protections.  The Senate and Assembly Business and Professions Committees held joint-hearings in Sacramento in March to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the board, during which testimony was received from consumer groups and advocates as to the direct impact board enforcement delays have on the lives of California patients.

In response to those hearings and findings, SB 304 strengthens the board’s enforcement program and makes a number of other key improvements designed to better arm the board with the tools necessary to effectively protect patients and consumers. 

Specifically, the bill addresses concerns raised about board’s internal supervision and control of its investigators and investigations of serious disciplinary cases against physicians by making the unprecedented change of transferring board investigators and medical consultants who look into complaints and accusations against physicians to a new Health Quality Investigation Unit under the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation. 

By placing investigations of physicians under peace officer oversight and management, the result will be more effective investigation of cases and more streamlined coordination with the Department of Justice to ensure that action is taken against bad doctors as soon as possible, said Lieu, chair of the Senate B&P committee.

The bill also makes a number of other enhancements to the board’s operations, including:

• Making a Vertical Enforcement process used by board investigators and prosecutors within the Attorney General’s Office a permanent program.  Under Vertical Enforcement, investigators and prosecutors are paired together at the outset of delving further into a complaint about a physician or surgeon, all through the investigation and prosecution of a case.  This process has played a significant part in the improvement of  timeliness and quality of cases handled by the Attorney General.

• Requiring the Board to immediately investigate medical malpractice cases.

• Increasing the timeframe to file a formal accusation against a physician whose license has been suspended by a judge, allowing the Attorney General adequate time to file a formal disciplinary action.

• Providing the board with the ability to request an interim suspension order when a doctor fails to submit to psychiatric or medical evaluation ordered by the board.

For more, click on the bill numbers above or visit Lieu’s Web site at the address below.

Ted W. Lieu chairs the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee and represents the more than 1.3 million residents of Senate District 28, which includes the cities of Beverly Hills, Carson, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Santa Monica, Torrance, West Hollywood and the Palos Verdes Peninsula as well as portions of Long Beach and Los Angeles including, Beverly Glenn, Brentwood, Cheviot Hills, Harbor City, Hollywood Hills, Marina del Rey, Mar Vista, Pacific Palisades, Playa del Rey, San Pedro, Venice, Westwood and Wilmington. See a district map HERE: For more, visit www.senate.ca.gov/lieu.