Patient’s Right to Know Act
Starting on July 1, 2019, a new California law for healthcare professionals, “Patient’s Right to Know Act” will go into effect. California physicians, naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and podiatrists, under CA Senate Bill 1448, will be required to notify their patients if their license is on probation pursuant to a probationary order made on and after July 1, 2019. Disclosure must be made before the patient’s first visit following the probationary order in any of the following circumstances:
- The commission of any act of sexual abuse, misconduct, or relations with a patient or client
- Drug or alcohol abuse directly resulting in harm to patients or the extent that such use impairs the ability of the licensee to practice safely
- Criminal conviction directly involving harm to patient health
- Inappropriate prescribing resulting in harm to patients and a probationary period of five years or more
Taking a closer look
The Medical Board of California, the Osteopathic Medical Board of California, the California Board of Podiatric Medicine, the Naturopathic Medicine Committee, the State Board of Chiropractic Examiners, and the Acupuncture Board will now require that all medical licensees subject to probation (if their probation involves the circumstances listed above) to provide a disclosure for all patients before their next appointment. The licensee shall obtain from the patient, or the patient’s guardian or health care surrogate, a separate, signed copy of that disclosure and retain this for their records.
The disclosure should include: the licensee’s probation status, the length of the probation, the probation end date, all practice restrictions placed on the licensee by the board, the board’s telephone number, and an explanation of how the patient can find further information on the licensee’s probation on the licensee’s profile page on the board’s online license information Internet Web site.
Example of patient disclosure
- Licensee: Dr. Jane Smith
- Probation Status: Placed on 5 years probation
- Probation End Date: January 1, 2024
- Practice Restrictions: Completing a medical record keeping course, a professionalism program, obtaining a practice and billing monitor, and prohibited from engaging in the solo practice of medicine.
- Phone Number: Medical Board Consumer Information Unit (800)-123-4567
- To learn more, please visit this website link. You can find more information by searching by the licensees first and last name, and their profession: https://www.breeze.ca.gov/datamart/loginCADCA.do
So what can clinicians do right now to protect their patients, themselves, and their reputation?
1 Educate yourself proactively. Many clinicians that are placed on probation find themselves in that situation because they have become complacent. They have forgotten, or aren’t aware, of all the risks they are taking every day by cutting corners that could result in probation or even license revocation. By staying up to date with your continuing education requirements and regularly checking your regulatory board website, you have a better chance of recognizing and correcting potential issues before they become more serious.
Many regulatory boards distribute a email newsletter that is free to sign up and can be found on your boards website (example: http://www.mbc.ca.gov/Subscribers/). They typically offer a wealth of timely and relevant information about new and upcoming regulations and guidelines for your profession in your state. We recommend subscribing to your regulatory boards newsletter and reading it regularly.
Keeping current with continuing education requirements is also imperative. While you may typically seek out specialty specific educational courses for license renewal credit, it is always good policy to supplement this with a risk management course now and then as a proactive measure. Rules, regulations, and expectations regarding patient communication, professionalism, record keeping, prescribing, or ethics are always changing. While it may seem daunting, it is always the responsibility of the clinician to be aware of new regulation or expectations. Continuing education companies, like PBI Education and others, offer many courses that are designed to highlight the red flags and pitfalls that clinicians most commonly fail to recognize before it’s too late. Our expert faculty, with years of experience remediating clinicians who have run into trouble, provide the information you need to know to start protecting your patients, your practice, and yourself right way. Start exploring proactive courses here: https://pbieducation.com/courses/
2. Chaperones. Hiring a chaperone might seem like an unnecessary expense, but down the road, a chaperone could help to save your license. Read our blog articles, featuring Medical Record Keeping Course faculty member Jon Porter, JD, a healthcare administrative attorney with over 20 years of experience representing licensed professionals. Here are two blogs on this subject:
3. Professionalism. Remember that you are considered a professional 24/7. Even things that happen outside of your workplace will affect your career. If you plan to go out for drinks, it is always best to call an Uber, Lyft, or taxi. Social media can also be a risk. Check out our blog post about The Ten Most Common Risks Online
4. Patient Complaints. Listening to complaints may seem like a waste of your time, but respecting your patients and hearing their comments or concerns could point out larger issues you may not be seeing. Make sure you have assigned one person at your office to receive these complaints. You are the captain of the ship and it is your duty to make sure all complaints are properly addressed and handled. If there are multiple doctors in your practice, this information needs to be shared with the entire group. It is always best to be as transparent as possible.
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