Mandated Reporting of Sexual Misconduct Allegations against California Licensed Physicians by Healthcare Facilities
The Medical Board of California and other healthcare licensing boards hold licensed physicians and other healthcare licensees to an extremely high standard regarding sexual misconduct allegations. Every day physicians, and other healthcare licensees, who communicate with hundreds of patients each week, face the possibility of patients reporting unprofessional conduct, which can trigger a license investigation and license discipline.
Existing laws require the Medical Board of California, and other licensing boards, to monitor, regulate, and discipline licensed health care practitioners. When licensed physicians face sexual or inappropriate misconduct allegations, the health care facility’s administrative staff or executive member may conduct a peer review. Upon review of the allegation, the facility can choose to take disciplinary action against the licensed practitioner, including denial or revocation of privileges, which must then be reported to the Medical Board of California. The licensing agency is authorized to conduct disciplinary action, including revoking a physician’s license or issuing probation.
However, Senate Bill 425 now requires health care facilities to report any allegation of sexual abuse or misconduct against a licensee by a patient, if the patient or patient’s representative makes the allegation in writing, to the Medical Board of California or relevant licensing agency within 15 days. This new reporting requirement is found in Business and Professions Code section 805.8. Failure to report these allegations is punishable by a civil fine of up to $100,000 per violation. This applies to all health care facilities, which now include post-secondary educational institutions and facilities that are contracting a licensed practitioner to care for patients. Additionally, California licensing agencies are now also required to conduct an investigation of the licensed physician or practitioner.
Sexual and unprofessional misconduct allegations pose a serious threat to a practitioner or physician’s license, regardless of a licensee’s innocence. Mere allegations – even threadbare complaints – from a discontent patient can pressure the Medical Board other licensing board to take firm measures against a licensed practitioner. In these sensitive circumstances, healthcare licensees must act quickly and consult an attorney to avoid permanent consequences.