If you were sexually assaulted or abused by a doctor in California and filed a medical malpractice complaint against him, don’t be surprised if California’s medical board ignores your complaint or does nothing to punish the doctor.
A recent article published by HuffPost detailed how doctors accused of sexual misconduct are allowed to continue practicing medicine and how California’s medical board tends to tolerate doctor sexual misconduct and is reluctant to inflict harsh punishment even in the most outrageous cases.
But is it really that bad? We asked our California legal malpractice attorney from Mancini & Associates to look into this matter.
California was the launching pad for the #MeToo movement in October 2017, when a group of brave women went forward to accuse Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. Ever since then, accusations of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault against powerful men – actors, producers, filmmakers, politicians, doctors, and many more – have been all over the news.
Combined with the fact that California has always been considered one of the most rigorous states in requiring doctors and medical professionals to adhere to the highest standards of professional and ethical conduct, it is somewhat unbelievable that many doctors who have been accused of sexual misconduct or even sanctioned by the state’s medical board are able to escape the kind of punishment they deserve, or worse, are allowed to get a second chance and continue practicing medicine as if nothing happened.
“In order to understand why California’s medical board does such a terrible job at punishing doctors for sexual misconduct, it is important to keep in mind that, for some reason, there is an unrealistically low number of sexual misconduct complaints filed against doctors in California,” says our experienced medical malpractice attorney in California.
Each year, patients in Los Angeles, and all across California file fewer than 200 sexual misconduct complaints against doctors, and only a small percentage of those actually evolve into formal accusations or lawsuits.
In cases where California’s medical board sanctions or takes disciplinary action against doctors accused of sexual misconduct (annually, there are fewer than 20 cases that go that far), the medical board tends to be very merciful and sparing. Even in cases involving severe sexual misconduct, California’s medical board grants a few years of probation as the most “severe” punishment. This has been shown in an analysis of medical board records conducted by Kaiser Health News (KHN).
The analysis of California’s medical board records has shown that more than a third of all doctors sanctioned by California’s medical board in the past decade were slapped with probation. “In its essence, probation is not a criminal court action; rather, it comes in the form of conditions and restrictions placed on the accused doctor’s license as well as requires psychotherapy, courses in professional boundaries and ethics,” explains our California medical malpractice attorney.
Even though California’s medical board requires a minimum of “seven years” for probation in cases where a doctor has committed sexual misconduct against a patient, this “minimum” probation period is not applied in the vast majority of all probation cases against medical professionals. More often than not, California’s medical board finds some “mitigating circumstances” to reduce the number of years for probation.
Our lawyers from Mancini & Associates also remind readers that California’s outgoing governor Jerry Brown signed a milestone law this past September, requiring doctors who are on probation for sexual or any other serious type of medical malpractice or misconduct to notify their patients of the legal status of their misconduct case as well as the terms and conditions of their probation. However, the patient protection legislation will not take effect until July 2019.
If you have been sexually assaulted or abused by your doctor, physician, nurse, surgeon, or any other medical professional or healthcare provider, do not hesitate to schedule a free consultation with our medical malpractice attorney in California or elsewhere in California. Contact us by calling at 818-783-5757.