Push to reform State Medical Board advances after local family’s testimony

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGET) — State lawmakers advanced a bill that would reform the State Medical Board after complaints that it is too lenient on doctors who harm patients.

The Senate Appropriations Committee amended SB-806 to include recommendations to increase the number of public board members – compared to doctors – among other changes that advocates say make the compensation and accountability process more fair to patients and their families. The bill moves to the Senate floor and must be voted on by June 4.

The bill was supported by the non-profit organization Consumer Watchdog, which had used the case of the Dominguez family in Bakersfield as an example. 23-year-old Demi Dominguez died in 2019 during childbirth, and her son Malaki was lost as well. An investigation found that her doctor, Arthur M. Park, had multiple instances of gross negligence that led to her suffering a fatal pregnancy complication.

Park had already been disciplined in the past, and had a prior, similar fatal incident with another woman that placed his license on probation in 2020 – after Dominguez died. The accusation for Dominguez’s death wasn’t filed with the board until March 2021, and his license is now at risk of being revoked.

Her mother testified during the Board’s Sunset Review hearing, saying “The Medical Board failed my daughter and many other young mothers and babies. “The current system is broken.”

She accused the Board of valuing doctors’ livelihoods over human life.

Watchdog also advocates for the “Fairness Act,” which it says would update the compensation cap for 46 years of inflation and allow cases of death or catastrophic injury to be decided by judges and juries.

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