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Common Causes of California Medical Board Investigations and How To Prevent Them

California Medical Board Investigation

Healthcare providers have immense responsibilities, which can easily cause mishaps if not properly managed. Due to the urgency and intensity of the medical profession, physicians are often making in-the-moment decisions in their care of patients and interactions with colleagues. While it often is unintentional, unfortunately, slip-ups in conduct happen, and can be detrimental to one’s career.

The Medical Board of California oversees all medical establishments across the state to ensure each is upholding the expectations and standards required for patient care. That being said, it is their duty to investigate and take proper disciplinary actions on all reports of violations in the field.

Finding yourself caught up in a medical board investigation is an intimidating and stressful process that can end poorly if you don’t have proper legal representation from a healthcare attorney.

What are the most common California Medical Board complaints?

There are countless reasons why a healthcare professional’s behavior may warrant an investigation by the California Medical Board. It is vital to understand these causes to avoid future violations and protect yourself from unwarranted accusations.

Sexual Misconduct

One of the most common causes of healthcare investigations is sexual harassment and misconduct. In the 2020-2021 annual report, the Medical Board of California noted 116 sexual misconduct reports were sent in by health facilities.

Similarly, as is prevalent in other professions, those in higher positions may exploit their supervisees, however, any individual regardless of their position or relation can be held accountable. This includes inappropriate patient care.

Examples of sexual misconduct include but are not limited to:

  •  verbal harassment
  • physical harassment or abuse
  • requests for sexual favors
  •  unwanted advances

An isolated incident might not have enough grounds for a formal investigation, but the board will heavily consider the hostile work environment created. If you are unsure whether your experience is sufficient for a claim, you should contact a healthcare lawyer to discuss the matter further.

Substance Use/Abuse

Due to the intensity of their jobs and the high stakes at hand, healthcare professionals can be penalized for substance use and abuse. As outlined in BPC Code section 2280, a physician cannot be under the influence of alcohol or a narcotic drug while providing care.

If you feel the claims against you are not reflective of the actuality of the situation, you should discuss these concerns with a trusted healthcare attorney. Also, seek legal representation if you believe your past history of addiction is being used to discriminate against you.

Improper Care

Many California Medical Board investigations stem from alleged lapses in proper patient care. In matters like these, it is especially important to consult a healthcare lawyer as there is a lot of room for errors in complaints. Some examples include:

Another large concern is the failure to act in trauma cases. Because these situations are fast-paced, there is immense pressure on the care provider to act quickly and properly. The California Medical Board may look into those who fail to respond to urgent matters.

Disruptive behaviors may also be examined if they are proven to have interfered with the proper care for a patient. This classification can apply to actions related to sexual misconduct or substance usage. It may also apply to other behaviors such as intimidation, hostile avoidance, intentional miscommunication, and any other significant instances or patterns of behavior that can be detrimental to proper patient care.

Medical Board of California

Prescription Errors

With the opioid crisis and alarming addiction rate, it is no surprise that the Medical Board of California takes careful precautions in investigating the prescription of drugs. Inappropriate prescribing of controlled substances and subsequent lack of monitoring will be subject to investigations. In fact, mistakes in prescribing any medication can warrant a complaint. However, not all California medical board complaints are accurate which is why you should seek a legal opinion.


Violations of patient-doctor confidentiality are a major cause of California Medical Board complaints. Willful or neglectful violations can result in disciplinary actions. Read further on some ways you might be unknowingly violating HIPAA here.

How to Respond to a California Medical Board Complaint

While the Medical Board does its due diligence to protect patients, healthcare providers can be wrongfully incriminated in investigations. For example, supervisors may be investigated for the wrongdoings of their supervisees in which they had no role. Or someone may be unreasonably accused of poor quality of care.

If you find yourself the subject of a Medical Board investigation, the first thing you should do is contact a California Medical Board defense attorney. Healthcare lawyers regularly deal with these matters, so they can provide you with legal advice.

During the investigation process, it is essential to stay calm and respond to what is asked of you by the California Medical Board investigations team. Failure to do so may result in more severe penalties.

The advantage of working with a Medical Board defense attorney is that they can navigate the process on your behalf. They will work diligently to address the board’s inquiries and resolve disciplinary matters effectively so you do not have to worry about saying or doing the wrong thing.

Medical board defense attorney

Looking for California Medical Board Defense Attorneys? We got you covered!

While no one plans to be involved in an investigation, things happen. We understand it is frightening to have your license and reputation on the line, which is why we will do everything in our power to make the investigation go as smoothly as possible.

When you are in these situations, you surely want the best representation on your side. With over three decades of experience, Fenton Jurkowitz Law Group has a team of medical board defense attorneys who regularly handle compliance issues while minimizing the risks of “collateral damage” to practices.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can advocate for you.