You should know if your doc’s on probation



May 23, 2018 - 11:00 PM

Dr. Van H. Vu was put on probation in 2015 by the California Medical Board after being accused of gross negligence in the cases of two patients who fatally overdosed. If you were about to go into Vu’s pain management clinic for treatment, you’d be pretty interested in that information, wouldn’t you? Just as you’d want to know if your surgeon had been put on probation for performing an operation under the influence of drugs or if your daughter’s pediatrician had been put on probation for sexually abusing patients.

But in California, you probably wouldn’t know. That’s because although California requires physicians who are placed on probation to inform their insurance companies and the hospitals and clinics where they practice, they don’t have to tell the people who may be harmed the most — their patients.

This is outrageous. People have a right to know if their doctor is on probation for serious misconduct. Probation only results when investigations have turned up evidence of misconduct. Yet efforts to require physicians to inform their patients that they have been placed on probation — and why — have gone nowhere. The medical board has refused to force them to, and last year a bill by state Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) to bypass the board and put those requirements into law was blocked after intense lobbying by physicians’ associations. Hill is back with the proposal again year, and it faces opposition once again.

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