Patients should be told their doctor is on probation

Medical negligence is a risk that patients in California face when going in for routine doctors’ appointments or undergoing surgical procedures.  Examples of negligence may include misdiagnosis, a delay in diagnosis, the wrong treatment prescribed, errors in prescription directives or unnecessary exposure to harmful bacteria. Such acts can leave patients in need of additional medical care or with permanent damage.

Currently, there are more than 130,000 physicians in California with active licenses. It is the job of the state medical board to oversee these licensed professionals and ensure that they are not a risk to the public. When doctors engage in acts such as sexual misconduct, substance abuse and repeated incidents of gross negligence they can end up on probation. Nearly 500 doctors have had their licenses placed on probation due to a number of different violations.

When doctors are placed on probation, they are required to disclose this information to medical malpractice insurance agencies and hospitals. They are not, however, required to tell patients. A petition was recently filed by the Consumers Union pushing the state board to force doctors to disclose their probationary status to patients prior to treatment. The names of doctors who are placed on probation are listed online as public information. Yet many people are not aware that this information exists and that they have access to it.

People have the right to know whether the doctor they are seeing has violated the law and is on probation. The patient can then decide if he or she wants to assume the risk of receiving medical care from that physician.

If you have been victimized by medical malpractice in California, you have rights as well. You may want to seek legal help from a personal injury attorney who understands how these claims work in California.

Source: Sacramento Business Journal, “Consumers Union: Doctors on probation should tell patients,” Kathy Robertson, Oct. 15, 2015.

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