LOS ANGELES, April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- On Friday, April 25, the Medical Board of California had its quarterly meeting in Sacramento, California -- in the beginning, the meeting started normally, but by the end there were so few Board members present there wasn't a "quorum", leaving the Board with work left to do but not enough members to take action.
On the surface, it seemed that the Board had run longer than expected -- that the work the Board needed to take care of simply took more time than the Board had allotted to do it.
But a closer look reveals how much the Chairman's failure to run a meeting effectively and efficiently exemplifies the horrifying degree to which the Medical Board of California is malfunctioning -- the degree to which the Board is failing both to effectively protect members of the public from medically abusive professionals, as well as failing to address and attend to the needs of those professionals in order to better create a functioning medical system.
The Board consists of medical professionals and those who are not -- most care genuinely about the problems both patients and professionals are facing -- some even speak frankly of their disapproval with current dysfunction, directly addressing areas which need tremendous amount of improvement.
Then where is the problem?
The Medical Board of California full time staff.
It's not the staff personally so much, as it is the entire infrastructure behind the operation of the Board -- not only the misaligned culture, but the laws the Board is forced to adhere to in order to try and accomplish its mission ("to protect the healthcare consumer").
Both the laws governing how the Board functions as well as the laws governing how a physician is evaluated under the law -- what's considered 'a crime' -- need to be changed to better reflect the needs of the people in the 21st century.
The Internet has changed the knowledge base of the medical landscape dramatically -- patients may not have the medical knowledge of a physician, but they know more regarding what's happening to their bodies. Until there are medical tests for every disease and those tests are a hundred percent accurate, patients need to be able to direct the course of their medical care in collaboration with their physician.
In order to do this, California needs laws protecting both physicians who want to take action on behalf these patients as well as laws to better support patients who need access to the medical care with false negative test results.
In order to distinguish the medically abusive doctor who orders unnecessary medical actions from the physicians who listen then respond appropriately should be the foundation of a patient consent law -- 'While I may not have the medical knowledge of a physician, I know more regarding what's happening to my body, and therefore, I accept responsibility for the potential negative consequences this medical action can have--after careful consideration I've determined I need it.'
There's another side to "do no harm": the harm caused when something is not done that someone needed. Like it's abusive to not feed one's children, it's abusive to not give medical care to those who need it. If care is only given to those who have positive test results, then it eliminates an unnecessary percentage of the sick population due to false negative results.
Unless in a state of emergency in the ER, physicians work for the patient -- and medical laws that currently support and encourage the 19th century viewpoint of the omnipotent physician should be re-written. Is it worth investing thousands of dollars of resources into persecuting physicians who have consensual sex with a patient -- excluding rape, sexual exploitation or therapists -- when there are people being permanently injured or killed by physicians who make repeated medical mistakes because the state lacks the resources to persecute them fast enough?
The discrepancy between the Board's deliberations on non-harmful cases then comments regarding lack of resources to effectively deal with harmful cases in last week's meeting demonstrates clearly and unarguably the degree of urgency needed to reorganize how the staff of the Board prioritizes the Board's resources.
There also needs to be better safety laws regarding the work environment for the practice of medicine -- with rampant institutionalized sleep deprivation, increasingly unpaid burdensome workload of the insurance approval process, rising cost of medical malpractice insurance, and lack of payment for medically needed services on difficult cases (like phone calls and research), the current climate breeds medical errors that wouldn't have existed otherwise.
Gratefully, the Medical Board of California has demonstrated a commitment to addressing these concerns with the formation of the Medical Errors Task Force, Education Committee, Access to Care, as well as the Wellness Committee.
But if the Board is going to move from addressing these concerns into actually solving them, then Californians need a medical board that can execute its vision efficiently and effectively -- given the current legal infrastructure to which the Board is currently bound, it may be impossible.
Laws being like blue prints for a house, and currently there is a toilet in the front foyer.
With the Federation of State Medical Boards meeting this week in San Antonio, Texas, hopefully some of the changing landscape of medicine in the 21st century will be addressed.
Until then, people will continue to be unnecessarily harmed due to a malfunctioning medical board.
T. L. Kittle suffers with a chronic illness in the Los Angeles area, gratefully under the care of extraordinary physicians. Kittle has been attending the Medical Board of California meetings as a member of the public since January 2007, and is currently in the process of establishing a non-profit organization to address concerns regarding lack of access to care as well as lack of physician control over medical care.
SOURCE T. L. Kittle