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The Medical Board of California (MBC) has entered into an interagency agreement with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to review death certificate information for cases in which a medical examiner has determined the cause of a patient’s death to be overdose involving at least 80 morphine-equivalent units. The MBC is cross-checking that information with the CURES database to identify the physicians who prescribed medication to those patients. The MBC initially reviewed cases from 2012-2013, irrespective of the physician’s record or practice setting then or now, but intends to review 2014-2015 and 2016-2017 as data becomes available. Due to a recent court case, it is fully within the MBC’s purview to take this action.

First and foremost, CAFP strongly advises members to retain and consult an attorney immediately upon contact from the Medical Board of California. Check here for a list of attorneys who represent physicians. Very short deadlines may be triggered upon receiving documents from the MBC, and at no point during an investigation should a family physician be without legal counsel. For this reason, it’s imperative to retain a lawyer as soon as possible if MBC contacts you.

Find more information about the typical MBC investigation process here:

The MBC also has published two newsletters describing what you should do in the event of a complaint and in the event of an investigation:

Laws and policies may limit the impact of the MBC’s review. For example, a 2006 law protects physicians from disciplinary action for prescribing drugs for “intractable pain.” (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 2241.5.) Exceptions to this protection exist, however. Additionally, the statute of limitations for an enforcement action to remove a physician’s license is seven years after the alleged event occurred. (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 2230.5.) This is why a lawyer with relevant knowledge should be hired immediately upon contact of a physician by the MBC.

Know your rights. Before disciplinary action can be taken, physicians have the right to an extensive administrative procedure involving witnesses and the ability to appeal.

Please do not hesitate to contact CAFP if you require additional guidance.