Medical Board Holds Quarterly Meeting, Discusses Enforcement Challenges


By Emily Powers

On February 29th and March 1st, the Medical Board of California (MBC) held its Quarterly Board meeting in Los Angeles. A key agenda item included reviewing the Executive Management Report, specifically the Enforcement Program Summary. The Enforcement administrative team reported that the Board is moving towards a “collaborative enforcement process,” at the recommendation of the Enforcement Monitor Report from August 2023. That report identified four key problem areas with the enforcement process: 1) inadequate investigator workforce staffing that resulted in investigation delays, disruptions to workload assignments, inconsistency in investigation actions and other investigation deficiencies, 2) lack of structured collaboration between Health Quality Investigations Unit (HQIU) and the Health Quality Enforcement Section (HQE) during investigation and administration action phases, 3) a shortage of specialized medical experts, and 4) insufficient funding for MBC enforcement operations.

In an effort to address the collaboration issues, the Chief of Enforcement, Jenna Jones, reported holding joint meetings with the HQIU and the Attorney General’s office to draft a new collaborative process. Regarding the shortage of medical experts, Jones reported the enforcement team is waiting on the procurement of a new online expert training platform.

The Board also discussed the implementation of the Complainant Liaison Unit as part of the Enforcement Program Summary. Under SB 815 (Roth) (Chapter 294, Statutes of 2023), the Board is required to implement a Complainant Liaison Unit to address inefficiencies, delays, and confusion in the complaint process. The implementation is conditional on budgetary authorization which has not yet been provided by the state. While waiting for funding, the Executive Management Report included an update that the Board is developing workflow processes and job descriptions in anticipation of the Unit’s creation, including for staff that will conduct the complainant interviews.

Public Board Member TJ Watkins commented on the probation process, also part of the summary, noting that the Board has limited knowledge of the enforcement process when it comes to probation. He emphasized the importance of awareness of the process to monitor the true success of the enforcement process and made a request for more comprehensive data. Watkins also mentioned concerns of the Board’s limitations on revoking license for probation violations and asked this be prioritized as a potential procedural change in the future.

Board Member Dr. Richard Thorp asked the Enforcement Summary team about the lack of a complaint tracking system that can be used in the interim while the complaint tracking system and liaison unit are being developed. The team reported they are working on meeting a “bare minimum” to meet the technological requirements for any similar service offered in California for even an interim complaint tracking system to be available to the public.

Dr. Thorp also mentioned that despite increased expenditure to the Attorney General’s Office, the time it takes to get reports back to the Board has increased, and this is the largest part of the Board’s budgetary expenses. Additionally, members noted the Attorney General’s Office’s continued absence from the Board meetings and raised concerns regarding the attempt to have a more collaborative and comprehensive enforcement process between all actors with these absences.

Many additional issues were covered and discussed by the Board, including the Physician Health and Wellness Program mentioned in a previous blog post. The full webcast of the meeting, agenda, and materials can be found here on the Medical Board’s Website.


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