The California Medical Board received 8,679 complaints in fiscal year 2015-16 according to its latest comprehensive enforcement activity report. During that same period, 299 accusations were filed by the Medical Board of California. Medical license defense cases came from complaints overwhelmingly from the public, but also from complaints from license and professional groups and other governmental agencies. Physician license defense cases in that period resulted in 120 cases of license probation, 129 cases where the physician’s license was revoked or surrendered, and 62 public reprimands. Unfortunately, statistically most medical license defense cases in California ended with loss of a license or probation. This illustrates the importance of an experienced and effective California physician license defense attorney.
Our attorneys that defend medical licenses are seeing a spike in the number of cases involving opioid abuse by patients. As lawyers who defend medical licenses on a daily basis, were are seeing more and more medical licenses being disciplined due to the proactive approach taken by the Medical Board of California to investigate licenses of doctors who are targeted for improper prescribing practices based upon their CURES reports. Attorneys who defend Medical Board licenses are also seeing cases that stem from the California Department of Public Health reporting of opioid-related deaths to the Medical Board, as well as information from pharmaceutical companies that may point to physician prescribing problems. Accusations against California medical licenses are also being triggered by investigator review of websites and news articles to find complaints and adverse incidents involving physicians. Our attorneys are keenly aware of these issues in medical license defense cases.
Opioid abuse-related cases are typically brought under Business and Professions Code sections 2234 (referring to gross negligence, repeated negligent acts and incompetence), Business and Professions Code section 2242, prescribing dangerous drugs without an appropriate prior examination and a medical indication, and Business and Professions Code section 2241, prescribing prescription drugs to an addict for a purpose other than addiction treatment.
As is apparent from the number of complaints versus the number of accusations filed, it can be possible to resolve a Medical Board physician license investigation and defend the physician’s license at the investigation stage with effective attorney representation. However, to successfully defend a physician’s license, the medical license defense attorney must draw upon expert opinion, experience, legal research, and knowledge of remediation measures. At Ray & Bishop, PLC, we do expect to defend an increasing number of medical license accusations due to opioid abuse cases this year and beyond.