By Jonathan Padua
SB 48 (Limón), as introduced on December 7, 2020, and as it applies to the Medical Board of California (MBC), would amend section 2190.3 of the Business and Professions Code to require all general internists and family physicians to complete at least four hours of mandatory continuing education regarding the special care needs of patients with dementia. Currently, section 2190.3 only requires physicians who have a patient population of which over 25 percent are ages 65 or over to complete at least 20 percent (10 hours) of all mandatory Continuing Medical Education (CME) hours in a course in the field of geriatric medicine or the care of older patients.
According to the California Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, the sponsor of the bill, “shortages of medical specialists [trained in treating dementia] will place an increasing burden on primary care physicians (PCP) to meet the current and future needs of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia,” stating that “current CME requirements are insufficient to prepare PCPs to care for the growing patient population living with dementia.” In addition, according to the bill’s author, “SB 48 will ensure that as our state continues to age, all our elders will be able to receive timely, accurate and necessary diagnosis.” Both the author and sponsor also noted that while physicians subject to section 2190.3 are required to take CME hours in geriatric medicine or the care of older patients, they may not necessarily be taking CME hours in care related to dementia.
At its February 4, 2021 meeting, staff presented the Board with its analysis of the potential impact of the bill, as well as the Board’s previous positions on CME-related legislation, and the Board discussed its position on the bill. Licensee member Howard Krauss raised concern that SB 48 would allow the legislature to mandate CME hours to physicians, an area typically reserved for physicians themselves to decide. Comparing SB 48 to similar legislation in the past that mandated CME training hours for pain management, Dr. Krauss cautioned that the current version of the bill would allow potentially conflicting parties, such as pharmaceutical companies, to provide the newly required CME training hours under SB 48. Other Board members voiced their agreement with Dr. Krauss. Ultimately, the Board voted to take no position on SB 48, and to draft a letter to the legislature expressing MBC’s concerns about the current version of the bill. Board members Howard Krauss, Kristina Lawson, and Randy Hawkins agreed to draft the letter, which will be presented to the rest of the Board at a later date.