February 7, 2016
Would The Attorney General’s Ability to Protect the Public from Bad Medical Practices be affected by Passage of the Act?
The Attorney General is responsible for enforcing the standards of practice mandated by the health care boards . However, the Attorney General cannot prosecute doctors who are not licensed to practice in this state. Now, “utilization review” is done by doctors and nurses who are outside the state of California, making it impossible for the Attorney General to bring them to justice for denying patients needed care. Because the entire “utilization review” system as it now flourishes would be eliminated by passage of the Act to Protect the Privacy of Health Care Decisions, the Attorney General would no longer be frustrated in her attempts to protect our fellow citizens from the harm perpetrated by “utilization review” personnel.
What if a patient seeks care from a provider not licensed to provide it? If someone not licensed to provide a service provides it, the Attorney General should prosecute him or her. The decision of the patient to ask is protected by this Act, the duty of the licensed provider to competently inform in response to the query is not abridged by this act in any way. By way of example, say a patient with a medical condition requiring skilled nursing care wants to be in a board and care facility that is not licensed as a skilled nursing facility, could the board and care home provide the care? No, not under its license, but it could arrange for the care to be provided by someone who is licensed. In other words, the patient could contract with skilled nurses to provide skilled nursing care by making house calls to the facility. The Board and Care home would be responsible to the patient to maintain sanitary conditions so the nursing care could be successful, which could be done under the board and care home’s license since they are required under their license to provide sanitary housing.
Could the Attorney General prosecute providers who practice within the scope of their licenses if they perform services incompetently or negligently even though they do so at the request of patients? The Act does not require providers to provide treatment just because their patients ask them to. Providers are still required to practice competently and are obligated by their oaths and licensing boards to “act in the best interest of their patients.” By way of another example, suppose a Medical Doctor were to practice spinal manipulation at the request of a patient, could the Attorney General prosecute? Although medical doctors are licensed to diagnose and treat any condition by any means, medical doctors are not trained in spinal manipulation. Hence, if a medical doctor attempted to manipulate a patient’s spine, he could be prosecuted both for incompetence for attempting the manipulation, and for negligence for not referring the patient to a Chiropractor or Osteopath who has been trained and certified by the appropriate specialty Osteopathic Board. Licensing is how People protect themselves from incompetent, negligent and unscrupulous practitioners. We the people should be able to rely on the Attorney General enforcing the licensing provisions our legislature and we have enacted. We should never be interfering with the private decisions of others. This includes what others decide to believe or how they decide to care for themselves, or to whom they go for assistance with their beliefs or care.