Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) successfully won approval for two of his priority proposals that would better protect the public by strengthening program standards for substance abusing medical professionals, and boosting oversight of California’s burgeoning surgical centers and clinics performing cosmetic procedures.
The Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee Monday approved Senate Bill 1441 and Senate Bill 1454 to address growing public concerns with the oversight of physicians, some of which have been spurred by the tragic death of Donda West, the 58-year old mother of recording artist Kanye West. Though West’s physician, Jan Adams, M.D., has been cleared of any wrongdoing, it is unclear, due to privacy laws, whether he was enrolled in the Medical Board of California’s (MBC) diversion program when he preformed cosmetic surgery on her.
SB 1441 helps restore public confidence by allowing the Department of Consumer Affairs to collaborate with the healing arts professions to establish best practice standards for the rehabilitation and recovery of physicians and other health professionals with substance abuse problems. The areas of rehabilitation include thorough evaluation of the impaired professional; appropriate monitoring in the treatment program; drug testing for program adherence; and penalties for relapse and guidelines for suspension or revocation of license.
SB 1441 would require the Department of Consumer Affairs to issue a set of best practices and standards to govern those healings arts licensing boards that operate diversion programs or contract out for similar services. DCA is charged with overseeing boards and bureaus which license and regulate businesses and professions, including the healing arts professions such as doctors, nurses and dentists. Currently, eight health care licensing boards specify their own policies and procedures for treating alcohol and drug impaired licensees. With the exception of the MBC’s diversion program, which has undergone numerous audits and has been criticized as flawed, the seven other boards have yet to be audited to determine their effectiveness at rehabilitating licensees while ensuring patient safety. Additionally, SB 1441 would require thorough and periodic audits for all healing arts licensing boards.
SB 1454 expands the regulation of surgical and medical spa clinics, and requires the establishment of standardized procedures and protocols to be followed in the event of serious complications or side effects from surgery and to govern emergency and urgent care situations. In addition, in an effort to educate the public about the appropriate qualifications of their chosen practitioners, SB 1454 requires health professionals disclose the type of license and degrees they have achieved.
Currently, physician-owned clinics are outside the licensing and inspection requirements of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). These physician-owned clinics are instead accredited by an accreditation agency that is approved by the MBC, of which there are four. These accrediting agencies are responsible for ensuring surgical clinics are in compliance with California’s health and safety code standards.
Both bills received an 8-0 committee vote and legislatively advance for further review, SB 1441 to the Senate Appropriations Committee and SB 1454 to Senate Rules Committee.