Patient’s Right to Know Act of 2018 – What OC and Los Angeles Physician Should Know About The New Law
— In response to the testimony of survivors of physician sexual assault, including athletes who had recently testified against Olympic team doctor, Larry Nassar, on September 19, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the SB 1448. SB1448 or the “Patient’s Right to Know Act of 2018” is the result of years of debate and compromise by consumer and patient advocates, physicians, and the California Medical Association. Prior to the enactment of this law, a patient could learn about the accusations and discipline handed down by the Medical Board of California by logging onto the Medical Board’s website. With the passage of this new law, which goes into effect on July 1, 2019, physicians will have an affirmative duty to notify their patients of their probation for the following offenses:
o The commission of any act of sexual abuse, misconduct, or relations with a patient or client;
o Drug or alcohol abuse directly resulting in harm to patients or to the extent that such use impairs the ability of the practitioner to practice safely;
o Criminal conviction directly involving harm to patient health; or
o Inappropriate prescriptions resulting in patient’s harm to patients and a probationary period of five years or more.
The details that the physician must provide include probation status, the length of the probation, the probation end date, all practice restrictions, the board’s telephone number, and an explanation of how the patient can find additional information about the probation.
It should be noted that physicians must provide patient notice regardless of whether the probation is the result of an administrative hearing in front of an administrative law judge, or a stipulated settlement between the doctor and the Medical Board of California without any findings of fact or admissions of guilt.
That purpose of the disclosure is to give the patients the option of talking with their doctors about the issue or leaving their office and finding a new provider.
Although such information has long been publicly available on licensing board websites, this new law will require a practitioner on probation to obtain a signed copy of the disclosure prior to each patient’s first visit following the effective date of the practitioner’s probation. Exceptions to the disclosure requirement exist for specific situations where a disclosure prior to treatment is not feasible (e.g., unscheduled urgent care or emergency room visits).