Monday, November 16, 2009

California Doctors

The Medical Board of California's end of the year newsletter has a table listing reasons doctors were disciplined by the Board. The most common reason cited was Negligence, resulting in 21 licenses revoked or surrendered. But the most common outcome for Negligence was either Probation or Public Reprimand. Other unfortunate excuses for disciplinary action by the Board includes Inappropriate Prescribing, with eleven licenses revoked or surrendered, Sexual Misconduct with four, Mental illness with six, and Self-Use of Drugs or Alcohol with nineteen.

The quarterly newsletter also lists the physicians who have been disciplined within the past three months by name and the cause of the action. For the sake of privacy and brevity I won't list the names here but you can read them for yourself as this is public information. Just follow the link above. Most of the causes for Board intervention are vague, like "gross negligence" or "repeated negligence." But there are some real eye-openers.

There were several cases of driving under the influence of alcohol. One doctor received a "Misdemeanor conviction for dusturbing the peace" and got a Letter of Reprimand. Another doctor was disciplined for "failing to meet the standard of care when inadvertently inserting a PEG tube into a patient who was not scheduled to receive one." That's another Letter of Reprimand. Another doctor received the LOR when he "Committed unprofessional conduct and made false representations by sending an e-mail to 4 individuals containing negative and untrue statements about 2 physicians while pretending to be the spouse of a patient." Would love to hear the backstory on that one. One doctor surrendered his medical license when he pretended to be a board-certified physician. Several lost their licenses for insurance or Medicare fraud.

Then there are the really disturbing ones. One doctor received a three year probation for a "Misdemeanor conviction for attempted unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor more than 3 years younger than himself." Doesn't say if the minor was his patient, just that he's a pedophile. Another doctor received probation for "performing physical examinations on 3 female medical students that made them uncomfortable." A Letter of Reprimand was issued to one doctor who "Committed unprofessional conduct by inadvertently touching the breast of a female patient during an axillary examination; failing to explain what was being examined and why; failing to document the performance of the examination; and making an inappropriate comment to the patient." Hmm. I thought all doctors by now have figured out that when examining the female anatomy, there should be a female nurse in the room. And finally, a physician received a 2 year probation for being "Convicted of assault with a deadly weapon." Could be anything from a syringe of potassium to a hit and run with his car. Doesn't say.

There's a lot more in the newsletter that I won't get into, for lack of time and space. But it shows that doctors are all to human. The public may like to put physicians on pedestals but we are just like everybody else, with all the frailties and insecurities of other people. The lessons for doctors to learn include: document everything, don't drink and drive, make sure the proper consent is in the chart, have a female nurse in the room for a female patient, and don't have sex with a minor. That should keep you from about 90% of disciplinary actions by the Medical Board of California.

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