The Medical Board of California will not require doctors it has put on probation to notify their patients. The board voted Friday to conduct more research into the issue.
Doctors put on probation by the board can keep their medical licenses and still practice, sometimes under restrictions. Patients can search on the Medical Board website to see their doctors' status.
Arguing that function is obscure, Consumers Union petitioned the state board to require direct disclosure by doctors to patients.
"Doctors have to tell their malpractice insurers, and their hospitals where they work, that they’re on probation," said Lisa McGiffert, director of the group's Safe Patient Project. "Only the patients are left in the dark."
Boardmember Randy Hawkins, who is a physician, said the new requirement would be destructive.
"What you do is you poison the well," said Hawkins. "You say that this doctor has done something bad. And this gets in the way of that patient-physician relationship, which will be forever changed based on that information."
Board members instead asked staff to take more time to look at disclosure requirements.