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San Francisco Marin Medical Society Blog

SB 304 Would Strip Medical Board of Power To Investigate Physicians

Lawmakers are considering SB 304, a bill that would eliminate the Medical Board of California's authority to investigate physician misconduct.

The board has been criticized for failing to discipline physicians accused of harming patients, particularly doctors suspected of overprescribing addictive pain medications.

According to a December 2012 Los Angeles Times investigation, at least 30 patients in Southern California died of prescription drug overdoses or related causes while their physicians were being investigated by the medical board.

Physicians were reprimanded or placed on probation in 80% of the 190 cases of overprescribing filed by the board since 2005. However, physicians in most of those cases were permitted to continue writing prescriptions with few or no restrictions.

According to the bill authors—Sen. Curren Price (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly member Richard Gordon (D-Menlo Park)—the California attorney general would handle investigations of physician misconduct.

The change would leave the medical board to deal mostly with licensing doctors.

Source: California Healthline, April 26, 2013.

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