(How Medical Board of California can Discipline every Qualified Physician; As a Matter of Law)
The Practice of Medicine is a specialized field and this is not unreasonable to assume that the licensing Board is run by individuals with intimate knowledge of the medical profession. This is not unreasonable to assume that the licensing board will grant license to all qualified applicants. This is not unreasonable to assume that Physicians may be disciplined for legitimate reasons for their actions relevant to their profession.
Unfortunately, the reality cannot be farther from perception. Whether Medical Profession has any bearing on the Medical Board or Discipline of Physicians, can be obvious from the composition of the Board. Because Mission of the Board is “Protection of Public” (not necessarily to improve access to health care Services), the percentage of the physician members in the Medical Board of California is lowest in several decades.
Composition of the Medical Board of California
The Board employs an army of investigators under its Chief investigator who work in tandem with the Office of State Attorney General. All investigators of the Medical Board have a title of “Peace Officer”. The Peace Officers/ Investigators are assigned to interview physicians on all matters including matters relevant to health care and patient care. This is understood that none of the investigators has any qualification in the medical field.
Now after recent changes; an experienced Chief of Licensing resigned and the Board has appointed a new Chief of Licensing. The most relevant experience of the new Chief of Licensing is that he worked in licensing of Automotive Vehicle Repair. In his previous assignment current Chief of Licensing, had relied on ‘Smog Certification‘ to assert fitness of licensees.
Prior to accepting this position, [Chief of Licensing] was a program manager at the Bureau of Automotive Repair for two years where he managed complaint intake, the toll-free call center, statistical unit staff, and case settlements, citations and license denials.
[Chief of Licensing] is technical advisor to the Board members and the primary liaison between the Board, public, consumers, and licensees regarding all issues relating to the license of physicians and affiliated healing arts professions overseen by the Board.” (Quarterly Newsletter of Medical Board of California (October 2010) at page 7 ).
Considering the above, this is understandable that the Medical Board of California is confused on setting a ‘Standard of Fitness’ for physicians.
The Effects of such composition of the Medical Board are obvious from the following;
a.Dr. Sheikh completed Family Medicine Residency Training and received a certificate of Residency Completion from University of California at Davis.
b.Before starting residency, Dr. Sheikh participated in Research along with faculty at Stanford School of Medicine and was named a co-author on a number of topics published in professional journals.
c. Dr. Sheikh received excellent recommendations from VA Palo Alto, University of Texas Medical Branch and from Stanford School of Medicine.
d. Two senior Residency Program Directors wrote letters in her support rating her as an excellent and intelligent physician. Three different Residency Program Directors on several occasions testified under Penalty of Perjury (by completing L3 form) that Dr. Sheikh is competent to practice Medicine.
e. Nonetheless, the Board accused Dr. Sheikh of incompetence.
f. The Board claims that Dr. Sheikh is not fit for license after she has reliably practiced as a Resident Physician in the State for over two years.
Unfortunately, during recent decades, License of Physicians and Surgeons is based on the State’s mistaken belief that a Physician’s license is a ‘Privilege’ arbitrarily available at its grace.
A physician can be disciplined for matters relevant to Healthcare and a physician can also be disciplined for matters NOT relevant to Healthcare. Then the Board provides physicians a ‘Disciplinary Process’ and a physician can also be disciplined by the Disciplinary Process itself;
a. Generally, all citizens can contest a subpoena according to rules but a physician can be found guilty of unprofessional conduct for contesting a subpoena issued by the Board.
b. Physicians are guilty of unprofessional conduct if they do not submit themselves to be interviewed by peace officers of the Board though every citizen can claim Fifth Amendment Right (against self incrimination).
c. A physician may be found guilty of unprofessional conduct for any reason as determined at the discretion of the hearing officer.
d. Merely contesting the disciplinary accusation of the Board is likely to result in the conclusion that a physician cannot be rehabilitated.
At this time any physician in the State of California can be accused and can be reliably found guilty of unprofessional conduct for not maintaining accurate records (Bus. & Prof. Code § 2266) (for lack of any Standards).
At this time any physician in the State of California can be disciplined for correctly diagnosing and treating a patient. In such matters, the Board can find the accused physician guilty for not complying with a “Standard of Care”, an imaginary standard unknown to Medical Professionals.
A physician who opposes illegal discrimination is likely to be disciplined by the Board. A woman physician who opposes any Harassment is likely to be disciplined by the Board. A physician is likely to be disciplined for demanding reimbursement for his services form an insurance company. A physician can be disciplined on request from a company not relevant to health care. A physician is likely to suffer professional harm for supporting a physician’s license with the Board. Some physicians have relied on their ignorance of the problem; more informed physicians have relied upon ‘Retaliation’ of the Board for keeping quite.
The Courts have begun to recognize the possibility of such prejudicial circumstances and recently the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals noted,
“AAPS’s complaint alleged, among other things, abuses perpetrated on physicians by means of anonymous complaints, harassment of doctors who complained about the Board, and conflicts of interest by decision-makers. If practiced systemically, such abuses may have violated or chilled AAPS members’ constitutional rights”. AAPS v Texas Medical Board, (5th Cir. 2010).
An experienced woman physician, when explained abuse of the Board, had tears in her eyes. Physicians of California are in shock and perhaps that is a consequence of “Protection of Public”.
Author: Rehan Sheikh
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