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California state laws and regulations that affect your medical practice

I. Self-Reporting Professional Misconduct

A physician must, within 30 days, report in writing to the Medical Board any felony charges brought against him or her and any convictions including guilty verdicts or pleas of any felony or misdemeanor. However, only misdemeanors that are “substantially related” to the qualifications, functions or duties of a physician must be reported.

Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 802.1

II. Reporting Crimes

· Reporting Child Abuse

All physicians are mandated reporters under California’s Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act.

Cal. Penal Code § 11165.7(a)(21)

Under the Act, physicians must report suspected child abuse or neglect to a police or sheriff’s department.

Cal. Penal Code § 11165.9

A physician who has knowledge or reasonably suspects that a child is suffering serious emotional damage or is at risk of such damage must also report this to a police or sheriff’s department.

This initial report must be made immediately via telephone and a written follow-up report must be sent by fax or electronically within 36 hours.

Cal. Penal Code § 11166(a)

All mandatory reports must include the name, address and telephone number of the physician reporter; the fact that the report is made in a physician capacity, and any information giving rise to the reported abuse, neglect or emotional damage. If known, the reporter should also include the child’s name, address, present location, and school; and the names and addresses of the child’s parents or guardians.

Cal. Penal Code § 11167(a)

· Reporting Elder Abuse

Any health care provider who, in his or her professional capacity, observes or has knowledge of the physical abuse, abandonment, abduction, isolation, financial abuse, or neglect of an elder or dependent adult must report the alleged abuse.

Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code §15630

The report must be made by telephone followed by a written report sent within 2 working days.

The location where one must report elder abuse depends on the circumstances:

• If the abuse occurs in a long-term care facility report to the local ombudsperson or local law enforcement agency.

• If the abuse occurs in a state mental hospital or development center, report to State Department of Mental Health, State Department of Developmental Services, or to local law enforcement agency.

• All other reports shall be to an adult protective services agency or to local law enforcement.

In certain situations, the laws do not require a physician to report abuse allegations. For example, a physician is not required to report elder abuse if (1) the abuse allegations come directly from the patient, (2) the provider lacks independent evidence corroborating the statement, (3) the elder or dependent adult has been diagnosed with a mental illness or dementia and (4) it is the professional opinion of the provider that the report is false. Id.

Similarly, when a patient is in a long-term care facility, a provider need not report the abuse if (1) the provider knows that there is a proper patient care plan in place, (2) the provider is aware that the care plan was properly executed, (3) the patient was injured as a result of care received in accordance with the care plan, and (4) the provider reasonably believes that the injury was not the result of abuse. Id.

· Reporting Crimes

In the course of rendering medical care physicians must report:

• Any person suffering from any self-inflicted wound or physical injury,
• Any person suffering from a firearm injury, or
• Any person whose injuries appear to be the result of assault or abusive conduct.

The initial report should be made immediately by telephone, with a written report following within 2 working days of the incident. The report should include, if known: the name and location of the injured person, the nature of the injuries and the name of the person who allegedly inflicted the injuries.

Cal. Penal Code §1160

Copyright © Kern Augustine Conroy and Schoppmann, P.C. Used with permission.

Updated 2008

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