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Medical Board of California

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In May, Dr. Charles Orlando Lewis finally lost his license to practice medicine. But it's the strange events that led up to the medical board's action that really boggle the mind.

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As the law stands now, doctors on probation have to tell hospitals and insurance companies about the fact that they are on probation. But they don’t have to tell their patients. Consumer groups argue that should change and momentum is building in support of the idea.

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The patient identified only as E.T. in documents had entered the hospital alive, with a slow heart rate. She died a few hours later, after Dr. Madhusudhan T. Gupta had tried to insert a pacemaker into her artery instead of her vein. Years would go by before the Medical Board took meaningful action.

Picture of William Heisel

Dr. Gupta was performing a procedure in which a pacemaker is inserted through a patient's blood vessels. But he skipped a key step, and the patient's condition steadily worsened. The case is a reminder that the skills a physician has earlier in their career don’t always remain sharp toward the end.

Picture of Monya De

This year alone, I have learned of three doctors, two of whom I personally know and one who I went to medical school with, being disciplined by the Medical Board of California. They're all men. Likewise, a recent study found male doctors were more likely to be disciplined. What's going on here?

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California is taking another run at requiring doctors to check a patient’s prescription history before prescribing potentially addictive drugs, with legislation passing the state senate yesterday. But will California legislators make the same kinds of compromises with providers that Oklahoma did?

Picture of William Heisel

Dr. Scott Bickman lost his California medical license, but not before federal, state and local authorities missed numerous chances to prevent harm to patients. Do we need an Amber Alert for dangerous, back-alley clinics?

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A Southern California anesthesiologist was stripped of his ability to prescribe addictive drugs by the DEA in 2011. But the state's medical board didn't take away the doctor's license until just last month. Why is the board so slow in taking action?

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To better appreciate some of the legal problems with the way California's medical board oversees the disclosure of doctors’ disciplinary records online, consider the legal case of the late Orange County skin care pioneer James E. Fulton.

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The Medical Board of California has successfully won legislation that will remove a 10-year time limit on the online disclosure of doctors' discipline records. But the board better have its legal team ready, because doctors won't hesitate to challenge the rules in court.

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