Legislature passes CMA bill to protect patients and the sanctity of the physician-patient relationship

The California Legislature unanimously passed an important California Medical Association (CMA) sponsored bill (AB 1636) that will ensure physicians who have committed sexual misconduct with a patient or client are prohibited from acquiring or reinstating their license.

The bill—authored by Assemblymember Akilah Weber, M.D., (D-La Mesa) and co-authored by Assemblymember Al Murasuchi (D-Torrance) and Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger)—will protect patients from criminal sexual misconduct and ensure that any physician who so violates a patient’s trust cannot be licensed in California.

“This important measure will ensure the Medical Board of California has the tools they need to protect patients and the sanctity of the physician-patient relationship,” says CMA President Robert E. Wailes, M.D. “Physicians who violate a patient’s trust must not be allowed to continue practicing medicine, and this bill will help to ensure that physicians who commit such egregious acts will be appropriately punished.”

In December 2021, the Los Angeles Times reported that at least 10 California physicians had regained their licenses after investigations of sexual misconduct with their patients. In all reported instances, the physicians either had their licenses revoked or surrendered their licenses. These physicians subsequently petitioned the Medical Board of California for license reinstatement. According to the published report, the medical board reinstated 10 of 17 (59%) of the petitioning physicians.

Currently, a person can petition the medical board for reinstatement three years after having their license revoked or surrendered for unprofessional conduct. The medical board can also specify in a revocation order that a physician may file a petition for reinstatement after two years.

AB 1636 would remove the ability of physicians to petition for reinstatement, ultimately ensuring physicians who commit this egregious conduct are appropriately disciplined for the integrity of the medical profession.

This bill is now on the Governor’s desk awaiting his signature.

This press release was provided by the California Medical Association.