A new law is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2023 that affects California doctors whose medical licenses have been revoked or surrendered because of sexual misconduct involving patients. Under the new law, the Medical Board of California (MBC) will no longer have any authority to reinstate these licenses. This means that doctors will no longer have an opportunity to reapply for their license after the specified amount of time has passed, as has been the case.
The law started as a bill authored by a member of the California Assembly who’s also a physician and sponsored by the California Medical Association. Signed last month by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the law specifies that the MBC is prohibited “from reinstating a person’s certificate that has been surrendered because the person committed an act of sexual abuse, misconduct, or relations with a patient or sexual exploitation, as specified, or the person’s certificate has been revoked based on a finding by the board that the person committed one of those acts.”
California law appears to be the strictest in the country
In the wake of the high-profile case of sexual abuse committed by the doctor for the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, lawmakers in other states have tried, with varying levels of success, to pass similar legislation. However, according to a spokesperson for the Federation of State Medical Boards, the new California law appears to be the only one that goes as far as it does.
Some consumer and patient advocacy groups say that still isn’t far enough because it only addresses sexual misconduct toward patients. Even the head of the MBC noted, “As currently drafted, the restrictions on licensure reinstatement and application denials do not apply to those who have engaged in sexual criminal or professional misconduct against a colleague, employee, family member, or others….”
What about other medical professionals?
The language in the law says nothing about other types of health care professionals or their licensing boards. That includes nurses, dentists, pharmacists and more. A representative of the California Department of Consumer Affairs that oversees these boards says that it also applies to the Osteopathic Medical Board of California (OMB). However, the OMB isn’t specifically mentioned in the law.
If you have questions or concerns about if or how this new law affects your ability to reinstate your license, it’s wise to seek legal guidance.