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SB-670 Physicians and surgeons: drug prescribing privileges: investigation.(2013-2014)

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SB670:v91#DOCUMENT

Senate Bill No. 670
CHAPTER 399

An act to amend Sections 2225 and 2234 of the Business and Professions Code, and to amend Section 11529 of the Government Code, relating to healing arts.

[ Approved by Governor  September 27, 2013. Filed with Secretary of State  September 27, 2013. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 670, Steinberg. Physicians and surgeons: drug prescribing privileges: investigation.
(1) Existing law authorizes investigators and representatives of the Medical Board of California, among others, to inquire into any alleged violation of the Medical Practice Act or any other federal or state law, regulation, or rule relevant to the practice of medicine or podiatric medicine, and to inspect documents relevant to those investigations, including the inspection and copying of any document relevant to an investigation where patient consent is given.
Existing law requires specified persons, including the administrator of a peer review body, to file a report with the board within 15 days after the effective date of any specified action taken against a licensee for a medical disciplinary cause or reason. Existing law also requires a coroner to make a report to the board, among other specified entities, when he or she receives information that indicates that a death may be the result of a physician and surgeon’s, podiatrist’s, or physician assistant’s gross negligence or incompetence.
This bill would authorize the board, in any investigation that involves the death of a patient, to inspect and copy the medical records of the deceased patient without the authorization of the beneficiary or personal representative of the deceased patient or a court order solely to determine the extent to which the death was the result of the physician and surgeon’s violation of the Medical Practice Act, if the board provides a written request to the physician and surgeon that includes a declaration that the board has been unsuccessful in locating or contacting the deceased patient’s beneficiary or personal representative after reasonable efforts.
(2) Existing law requires the board to take action against any licensee who is charged with unprofessional conduct. Unprofessional conduct is defined for this purpose to include, among other things, the repeated failure by a licensee who is the subject of a board investigation, in the absence of good cause, to attend and participate in an interview scheduled by the mutual agreement of the licensee and the board.
This bill would revise that definition of unprofessional conduct to include the repeated failure by a licensee who is the subject of a board investigation, in the absence of good cause, to attend and participate in an interview by the board.
(3) Existing law, the Administrative Procedure Act, authorizes the administrative law judge of the Medical Quality Hearing Panel to issue an interim order suspending a license, or imposing drug testing, continuing education, supervision of procedures, or other licensee restrictions.
This bill would further authorize the administrative law judge to issue an interim order limiting the authority to prescribe, furnish, administer, or dispense controlled substances.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 2225 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:

2225.
 (a) Notwithstanding Section 2263 and any other law making a communication between a physician and surgeon or a doctor of podiatric medicine and his or her patients a privileged communication, those provisions shall not apply to investigations or proceedings conducted under this chapter. Members of the board, the Senior Assistant Attorney General of the Health Quality Enforcement Section, members of the California Board of Podiatric Medicine, and deputies, employees, agents, and representatives of the board or the California Board of Podiatric Medicine and the Senior Assistant Attorney General of the Health Quality Enforcement Section shall keep in confidence during the course of investigations, the names of any patients whose records are reviewed and shall not disclose or reveal those names, except as is necessary during the course of an investigation, unless and until proceedings are instituted. The authority of the board or the California Board of Podiatric Medicine and the Health Quality Enforcement Section to examine records of patients in the office of a physician and surgeon or a doctor of podiatric medicine is limited to records of patients who have complained to the board or the California Board of Podiatric Medicine about that licensee.
(b) Notwithstanding any other law, the Attorney General and his or her investigative agents, and investigators and representatives of the board or the California Board of Podiatric Medicine, may inquire into any alleged violation of the Medical Practice Act or any other federal or state law, regulation, or rule relevant to the practice of medicine or podiatric medicine, whichever is applicable, and may inspect documents relevant to those investigations in accordance with the following procedures:
(1) Any document relevant to an investigation may be inspected, and copies may be obtained, where patient consent is given.
(2) Any document relevant to the business operations of a licensee, and not involving medical records attributable to identifiable patients, may be inspected and copied if relevant to an investigation of a licensee.
(c) (1) Notwithstanding subdivision (b) or any other law, in any investigation that involves the death of a patient, the board may inspect and copy the medical records of the deceased patient without the authorization of the beneficiary or personal representative of the deceased patient or a court order solely for the purpose of determining the extent to which the death was the result of the physician and surgeon’s conduct in violation of the Medical Practice Act, if the board provides a written request to the physician and surgeon that includes a declaration that the board has been unsuccessful in locating or contacting the deceased patient’s beneficiary or personal representative after reasonable efforts. Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to allow the board to inspect and copy the medical records of a deceased patient without a court order when the beneficiary or personal representative of the deceased patient has been located and contacted but has refused to consent to the board inspecting and copying the medical records of the deceased patient.
(2) The Legislature finds and declares that the authority created in the board pursuant to this section, and a physician and surgeon’s compliance with this section, are consistent with the public interest and benefit activities of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
(d) In all cases in which documents are inspected or copies of those documents are received, their acquisition or review shall be arranged so as not to unnecessarily disrupt the medical and business operations of the licensee or of the facility where the records are kept or used.
(e) If documents are lawfully requested from licensees in accordance with this section by the Attorney General or his or her agents or deputies, or investigators of the board or the California Board of Podiatric Medicine, the documents shall be provided within 15 business days of receipt of the request, unless the licensee is unable to provide the documents within this time period for good cause, including, but not limited to, physical inability to access the records in the time allowed due to illness or travel. Failure to produce requested documents or copies thereof, after being informed of the required deadline, shall constitute unprofessional conduct. The board may use its authority to cite and fine a physician and surgeon for any violation of this section. This remedy is in addition to any other authority of the board to sanction a licensee for a delay in producing requested records.
(f) Searches conducted of the office or medical facility of any licensee shall not interfere with the recordkeeping format or preservation needs of any licensee necessary for the lawful care of patients.

SEC. 2.

 Section 2234 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:

2234.
 The board shall take action against any licensee who is charged with unprofessional conduct. In addition to other provisions of this article, unprofessional conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:
(a) Violating or attempting to violate, directly or indirectly, assisting in or abetting the violation of, or conspiring to violate any provision of this chapter.
(b) Gross negligence.
(c) Repeated negligent acts. To be repeated, there must be two or more negligent acts or omissions. An initial negligent act or omission followed by a separate and distinct departure from the applicable standard of care shall constitute repeated negligent acts.
(1) An initial negligent diagnosis followed by an act or omission medically appropriate for that negligent diagnosis of the patient shall constitute a single negligent act.
(2) When the standard of care requires a change in the diagnosis, act, or omission that constitutes the negligent act described in paragraph (1), including, but not limited to, a reevaluation of the diagnosis or a change in treatment, and the licensee’s conduct departs from the applicable standard of care, each departure constitutes a separate and distinct breach of the standard of care.
(d) Incompetence.
(e) The commission of any act involving dishonesty or corruption that is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a physician and surgeon.
(f) Any action or conduct that would have warranted the denial of a certificate.
(g) The practice of medicine from this state into another state or country without meeting the legal requirements of that state or country for the practice of medicine. Section 2314 shall not apply to this subdivision. This subdivision shall become operative upon the implementation of the proposed registration program described in Section 2052.5.
(h) The repeated failure by a certificate holder, in the absence of good cause, to attend and participate in an interview by the board. This subdivision shall only apply to a certificate holder who is the subject of an investigation by the board.

SEC. 3.

 Section 11529 of the Government Code is amended to read:

11529.
 (a) The administrative law judge of the Medical Quality Hearing Panel established pursuant to Section 11371 may issue an interim order suspending a license, or imposing drug testing, continuing education, supervision of procedures, limitations on the authority to prescribe, furnish, administer, or dispense controlled substances, or other license restrictions. Interim orders may be issued only if the affidavits in support of the petition show that the licensee has engaged in, or is about to engage in, acts or omissions constituting a violation of the Medical Practice Act or the appropriate practice act governing each allied health profession, or is unable to practice safely due to a mental or physical condition, and that permitting the licensee to continue to engage in the profession for which the license was issued will endanger the public health, safety, or welfare.
(b) All orders authorized by this section shall be issued only after a hearing conducted pursuant to subdivision (d), unless it appears from the facts shown by affidavit that serious injury would result to the public before the matter can be heard on notice. Except as provided in subdivision (c), the licensee shall receive at least 15 days’ prior notice of the hearing, which notice shall include affidavits and all other information in support of the order.
(c) If an interim order is issued without notice, the administrative law judge who issued the order without notice shall cause the licensee to be notified of the order, including affidavits and all other information in support of the order by a 24-hour delivery service. That notice shall also include the date of the hearing on the order, which shall be conducted in accordance with the requirement of subdivision (d), not later than 20 days from the date of issuance. The order shall be dissolved unless the requirements of subdivision (a) are satisfied.
(d) For the purposes of the hearing conducted pursuant to this section, the licentiate shall, at a minimum, have the following rights:
(1) To be represented by counsel.
(2) To have a record made of the proceedings, copies of which may be obtained by the licentiate upon payment of any reasonable charges associated with the record.
(3) To present written evidence in the form of relevant declarations, affidavits, and documents.
The discretion of the administrative law judge to permit testimony at the hearing conducted pursuant to this section shall be identical to the discretion of a superior court judge to permit testimony at a hearing conducted pursuant to Section 527 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
(4) To present oral argument.
(e) Consistent with the burden and standards of proof applicable to a preliminary injunction entered under Section 527 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the administrative law judge shall grant the interim order if, in the exercise of discretion, the administrative law judge concludes that:
(1) There is a reasonable probability that the petitioner will prevail in the underlying action.
(2) The likelihood of injury to the public in not issuing the order outweighs the likelihood of injury to the licensee in issuing the order.
(f) In all cases in which an interim order is issued, and an accusation is not filed and served pursuant to Sections 11503 and 11505 within 15 days of the date on which the parties to the hearing on the interim order have submitted the matter, the order shall be dissolved.
Upon service of the accusation the licensee shall have, in addition to the rights granted by this section, all of the rights and privileges available as specified in this chapter. If the licensee requests a hearing on the accusation, the board shall provide the licensee with a hearing within 30 days of the request, unless the licensee stipulates to a later hearing, and a decision within 15 days of the date the decision is received from the administrative law judge, or the board shall nullify the interim order previously issued, unless good cause can be shown by the Division of Medical Quality for a delay.
(g) If an interim order is issued, a written decision shall be prepared within 15 days of the hearing, by the administrative law judge, including findings of fact and a conclusion articulating the connection between the evidence produced at the hearing and the decision reached.
(h) Notwithstanding the fact that interim orders issued pursuant to this section are not issued after a hearing as otherwise required by this chapter, interim orders so issued shall be subject to judicial review pursuant to Section 1094.5 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The relief that may be ordered shall be limited to a stay of the interim order. Interim orders issued pursuant to this section are final interim orders and, if not dissolved pursuant to subdivision (c) or (f), may only be challenged administratively at the hearing on the accusation.
(i) The interim order provided for by this section shall be:
(1) In addition to, and not a limitation on, the authority to seek injunctive relief provided for in the Business and Professions Code.
(2) A limitation on the emergency decision procedure provided in Article 13 (commencing with Section 11460.10) of Chapter 4.5.