A San Diego doctor continues to treat patients despite the fact that he may lose his medical license for abusing alcohol and powerful narcotics, including Oxycodone. The emergency room doctor admitted to stealing another doctor’s prescription pad in order to write himself 5 prescriptions for Oxycodone and Endocet. However, the doctor’s lawyer stated he believes his client is not a threat to patients because he is no longer impaired and has completed a drug rehabilitation program. Furthermore, the article reported the doctor put his medical license at risk with a DUI conviction in 2011. According to the president of the local Medical Society, research has shown doctors have a higher rate of drug and alcohol abuse than the general public.
Senator Curren Price is calling for the California Medical Board to be stripped of its investigative authority. The senator says there have been years of slow investigations and dangerous doctors. This combination means that new patients could be hurt while investigations are still ongoing, he says.
There is a conundrum when it comes to enforcement of licenses in general and the Medical Board in California (MBC) in particular. Certainly in speaking with physicians and defense counsel, it is opined that the Board is too strict and its enforcement policies fragmented. On the other hand, from a patient rights perspective, the MBC needs to take a more aggressive enforcement position. These individuals cite the lack of medical knowledge and experience of investigators as well as the increased amount of time to enforce the law.
It is fair to say that in all areas of politics (whether Federal, State or local), there should be a regular turnover so that new and inspired leadership are involved. On the other hand, some claim there needs to be a consistent policy of the MBC and, therefore, members should not be replaced (unless as a matter of practice when a new Governor is elected). The best that can be gained from articles of this nature and dialogue is that our system of government will ultimately improve, albeit it is often said “the wheels turn slowly.”