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How to Complain About Doctors

March 18, 1993

To file a complaint against a doctor or other health professional, call the state Medical Board's toll-free hot line at (800) 633-2322. The hot line is staffed by English- and Spanish-speaking operators.

Patients also may file complaints in writing by sending a letter to the California Medical Board, 1426 Howe Ave., Suite 54, Sacramento, CA 95825. A complaint letter should include as much information as possible including, when possible, the name of the doctor or health workers involved, where they work, when the incident occurred and details of the allegation. Complaints may be filed anonymously but those that are filed without a name should be especially complete in providing all information needed to begin an investigation.

TO FIND OUT ABOUT DOCTORS

To find out whether a doctor has had disciplinary action taken against him or her in the past, or to find out whether a medical license is valid, call (916) 263-2382 (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) Callers are not asked to identify themselves.

Although the license verification section will tell callers about previous disciplinary actions brought against any state physician, it will not tell callers about pending complaints--no matter how many there may be--until the charges have resulted in formal action by the board.

Information available to the public from the verification section includes the date the doctor was licensed in California, the date that license expires, the doctor's mailing address and disciplinary history. Detailed information about disciplinary actions are available by written request to the medical board.

To find out if a doctor has completed special training to practice a medical specialty such as gynecology, psychiatry or other fields, call the American Board of Medical Specialties toll free at (800) 800 776-CERT (6 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

Experts advise that, whenever possible, people personally interview doctors and some of their patients before selecting a physician.

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