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History of Positions Undermining Patient Safety Disqualify Former Leaders of Doctors’ Lobby For Seats on CA Medical Board, Patients Harmed by Medical Negligence to Testify

Wed, 02/03/2021 - 10:06
Posted in:
Med-Mal

Sacramento, CA – Two former leaders of the California Medical Association should be rejected as nominees to the Medical Board of California for their records opposing common sense patient safety reforms, Consumer Watchdog will testify at their confirmation hearing today.

The Senate Rules Committee hearing begins at 1:30PM and can be viewed on Senate TV at: https://www.senate.ca.gov/

“The Medical Board’s job is patient protection,” said Consumer Watchdog board member Tammy Smick who lost her son to medical negligence and will testify today. “It is outrageous that a past president and member of the California Medical Association, a political organization with a long record of active opposition to reasonable physician oversight, is even being considered for this critical public safety post.”

Read Smick’s letter detailing the nominees’ record of opposition to patient safety measures when head of the Medical Association and at the Board: https://www.consumerwatchdog.org/sites/default/files/2020-12/Ltr%20Oppo…

Alka Airy, Sandra Perez, and Ludmila Parada, members of the public who also had loved ones harmed or killed by medical negligence and were denied accountability by the Medical Board, will also testify in opposition.

Governor Newsom nominated Dr. Richard Thorp and re-nominated Dr. Dev GnanaDev to the Medical Board in June and July of 2019. Under the law they should have been confirmed for their posts within one year. As first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, while 185 appointees were confirmed by the Senate during the pandemic, the Governor used his emergency powers in August to delay the Medical Board confirmations into this year.

The delay of legally required confirmation hearings has denied Smick and other medical negligence survivors the opportunity to make their case against Thorp and GnanaDev as they remained active voting members on the Board. 

During his tenure, Dr. Thorp has vigorously advocated for the positions of the Medical Association and doctors’ interests at the expense of the public, said Consumer Watchdog.

Thorp has: Opposed requiring doctors to personally review a patient’s prescription history before prescribing opioids; opposed increasing physician licensing fees to adequately fund the Board’s investigations of physician misconduct; and, championed confidential diversion programs for substance abusing doctors, which replace public enforcement actions.

GnanaDev has sat on the Board for a decade and used his position to push a political, anti-patient agenda, said Consumer Watchdog. For example, he opposed requiring doctors to disclose to patients when the Medical Board has placed them on probation for sexual misconduct with patients, drug abuse on the job or criminal convictions. GnanaDev told NBC-TV Bay Area: “If I go to a doctor … and if the person says to me, ‘Oh, by the way, I’m on probation,’ there goes whatever trust I had – completely gone.”

Smick wrote: “Dr. Thorp’s nomination is doubly galling because a law enacted in 1975 prevents families like mine from seeking legal accountability when doctors kill our loved ones. The Medical Board was created as part of the same deal, with a promise that the legal deterrence being taken from patients would be replaced with regulatory enforcement to protect patients from harm. That promise has been forgotten.”

The lack of deterrence and weak appointments to the Medical Board who have prevented accountability for doctors who harm patients led Consumer Watchdog to support the Fairness Act which has qualified for the November 2022 ballot. The initiative measure would restore legal accountability by updating the malpractice cap for 45 years of inflation and allow judges and juries to decide compensation in cases involving catastrophic injuries or death. Read more at: https://www.consumerwatchdog.org/healthcare/survivors-medical-negligenc…

Thorp was CMA President in 2013-14 when the Association fought against a prior initiative to index the cap on compensation for patients injured by medical malpractice. 

In those years, CMA and its political committees paid nearly $1 million to Newsom advisors and longtime CMA consultants Jason Kinney, whose birthday Governor Newsom celebrated at the French Laundry dinner, and Jim DeBoo, newly appointed the Governor’s executive secretary. All told, Kinney and DeBoo made $2.8 million over the last ten years representing the Medical Association and its political committees opposed to adjusting the state’s 1975 medical malpractice cap. See the payments by the CMA to Kinney and DeBoo.

Alex Smick’s doctor ordered a toxic cocktail prescription and left him unmonitored during the night. No one was there to help him when those drugs caused an overdose. Despite the fact that Medical Board investigatory staff and Attorney General prosecutors recommended revocation or suspension of the doctor’s license for repeated negligent acts, the doctor cut a deal with the Board and was let off with a public reprimand. Not a single corrective or disciplinary action was ordered against his license to prevent the same thing from happening to someone else’s child.

Read Alex Smick’s story: https://www.consumerwatchdog.org/patient-safety/alex-smick-downey

Ludmila Parada’s husband Mario was paralyzed and lost portions of each of his limbs to medical negligence. Read his story: https://www.consumerwatchdog.org/patient-safety/mario-guzman-san-jose

Sandra Perez lost her daughter Jordan to medical negligence. Read her story:  https://www.consumerwatchdog.org/patient-safety/jordan-perez-hesperia

Alka Airy lost her sister Shilpa to medical negligence. Read her story: https://www.consumerwatchdog.org/patient-safety/shilpa-airy-san-francis…

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