The Patient Transparency and Protection Act Seeks to Address Medical Board’s Legislative Request

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By Tala Hughes

SB 920 (Hurtado), as amended on March 29, 2022, would amend sections 2220.5 and 2330 of, and add section 2220.8 to the Business and Professions Code regarding the Medical Board of California’s (MBC) ability to request records when conducting investigations. SB 920, known at the Patient Transparency and Protection Act, addresses two of the Board’s 2022 legislative requests. First, the Board requested enhanced medical record inspection authority of patient records without the need for patient consent or subpoena, so that it may quickly determine whether further investigation is needed and, if so, to prepare any necessary subpoenas. Second, the Board requested timely access to pharmacy records when needed for an investigation.

The bill would amend section 2220.5 to allow a Board investigator and a medical consultant to inspect the business location and the practitioner’s records, including patient and client records, at the Board’s discretion. If the Board does not have the patient’s consent to review their records, the investigator and consultant may inspect records in the office to determine whether there is good cause to subpoena those records for investigative purposes.

SB 920 would also add section 2220.8 to allow the Board to request records from a pharmacist when investigating a licensee and require the pharmacist to respond as though the request came from the California State Board of Pharmacy. Mandating a response consistent with Pharmacy Law ensures that pharmacists provide records in a certain timeframe, rather than waiting an unknown timeframe that could lead to investigation delays.

Finally, the bill would amend section 2330 to allow the Board to consider complainant statements for purposes of adjudication. According to public Board Member TJ Watkins, the current process ignores the harm that patients say they experienced because the Board is unable to hear these statements during disciplinary hearings.

At this writing, while the Board has not yet taken a formal position on the bill. Executive Director William Prasifka, sent a letter on the Board’s behalf to the author, thanking her for incorporating two of MBC’s stated legislative priorities into the bill. The Senate Business Professions & Economic Development Committee was scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill on April 4, 2022, but it was cancelled at the author’s request.

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