It is the intent of the Legislature that the board shall seek ways and means to identify and rehabilitate physician assistants whose competency is impaired due to abuse of dangerous drugs or alcohol so that they may be treated and returned to the practice of medicine in a manner which will not endanger the public health and safety.
(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 332, Sec. 66. Effective January 1, 2013.)
The board shall establish and administer a diversion program for the rehabilitation of physician assistants whose competency is impaired due to the abuse of drugs or alcohol. The board may contract with any other state agency or a private organization to perform its duties under this article. The board may establish one or more diversion evaluation committees to assist it in carrying out its duties under this article. As used in this article, “committee” means a diversion evaluation committee. A committee created under this article operates under the direction of the diversion program manager, as designated by the executive officer of the board. The program manager has the primary responsibility to review and evaluate recommendations of the committee.
(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 332, Sec. 67. Effective January 1, 2013.)
(a) Any committee established by the board shall have at least three members. In making appointments to a committee the board shall consider the appointments of persons who are either recovering of substance abuse and have been free from abuse for at least three years immediately prior to their appointment or who are knowledgeable in the treatment and recovery of substance abuse. The board also shall consider the appointment of a physician and surgeon who is board certified in psychiatry.
(b) Appointments to a committee shall be by the affirmative vote of a majority of members appointed to the board. Each appointment shall be at the pleasure of the board for a term not to exceed four years. In its discretion, the board may stagger the terms of the initial members so appointed.
(c) A majority of the members of a committee shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. Any action requires an affirmative vote of a majority of those members present at a meeting constituting at least a quorum. Each committee shall elect from its membership a chairperson and a vice chairperson. Notwithstanding Article 9 (commencing with Section 11120) of Chapter 1 of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code, relating to public meetings, a committee may convene in closed session to consider matters relating to any physician assistant applying for or participating in a diversion program, and a meeting which will be convened entirely in closed session need not comply with Section 11125 of the Government Code. A committee shall only convene in closed session to the extent it is necessary to protect the privacy of an applicant or participant. Each member of a committee shall receive a per diem and shall be reimbursed for expenses as provided in Section 103.
(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 332, Sec. 68. Effective January 1, 2013.)
Each committee has the following duties and responsibilities:
(a) To evaluate physician assistants who request participation in the program and to make recommendations to the program manager. In making recommendations, a committee shall consider any recommendations from professional consultants on the admission of applicants to the diversion program.
(b) To review and designate treatment facilities to which physician assistants in the diversion program may be referred, and to make recommendations to the program manager.
(c) The receipt and review of information concerning physician assistants participating in the program.
(d) To call meetings as necessary to consider the requests of physician assistants to participate in the diversion program, to consider reports regarding participants in the program, and to consider any other matters referred to it by the board.
(e) To consider whether each participant in the diversion program may with safety continue or resume the practice of medicine.
(f) To set forth in writing the terms and conditions of the diversion agreement that is approved by the program manager for each physician assistant participating in the program, including treatment, supervision, and monitoring requirements.
(g) To hold a general meeting at least twice a year, which shall be open and public, to evaluate the diversion program’s progress, to prepare reports to be submitted to the board, and to suggest proposals for changes in the diversion program.
(h) For the purposes of Division 3.6 (commencing with Section 810) of Title 1 of the Government Code, any member of a committee shall be considered a public employee. No board or committee member, contractor, or agent thereof, shall be liable for any civil damage because of acts or omissions which may occur while acting in good faith in a program established pursuant to this article.
(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 332, Sec. 69. Effective January 1, 2013.)
Criteria for acceptance into the diversion program shall include all of the following: (a) the applicant shall be licensed as a physician assistant by the board and shall be a resident of California; (b) the applicant shall be found to abuse dangerous drugs or alcoholic beverages in a manner which may affect his or her ability to practice medicine safely or competently; (c) the applicant shall have voluntarily requested admission to the program or shall be accepted into the program in accordance with terms and conditions resulting from a disciplinary action; (d) the applicant shall agree to undertake any medical or psychiatric examination ordered to evaluate the applicant for participation in the program; (e) the applicant shall cooperate with the program by providing medical information, disclosure authorizations, and releases of liability as may be necessary for participation in the program; and (f) the applicant shall agree in writing to cooperate with all elements of the treatment program designed for him or her.
An applicant may be denied participation in the program if the board, the program manager, or a committee determines that the applicant will not substantially benefit from participation in the program or that the applicant’s participation in the program creates too great a risk to the public health, safety, or welfare.
(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 332, Sec. 70. Effective January 1, 2013.)
A participant may be terminated from the program for any of the following reasons: (a) the participant has successfully completed the treatment program; (b) the participant has failed to comply with the treatment program designated for him or her; (c) the participant fails to meet any of the criteria set forth in subdivision (d); or (d) it is determined that the participant has not substantially benefited from participation in the program or that his or her continued participation in the program creates too great a risk to the public health, safety, or welfare. Whenever an applicant is denied participation in the program or a participant is terminated from the program for any reason other than the successful completion of the program, and it is determined that the continued practice of medicine by that individual creates too great a risk to the public health and safety, that fact shall be reported to the executive officer of the board and all documents and information pertaining to and supporting that conclusion shall be provided to the executive officer. The matter may be referred for investigation and disciplinary action by the board. Each physician assistant who requests participation in a diversion program shall agree to cooperate with the recovery program designed for him or her. Any failure to comply with that program may result in termination of participation in the program.
The board shall inform each participant in the program of the procedures followed in the program, of the rights and responsibilities of a physician assistant in the program, and the possible results of noncompliance with the program.
(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 332, Sec. 71. Effective January 1, 2013.)
In addition to the criteria and causes set forth in Section 3534.4, the board may set forth in its regulations additional criteria for admission to the program or causes for termination from the program.
(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 332, Sec. 72. Effective January 1, 2013.)
All board and committee records and records of proceedings and participation of a physician assistant in a program shall be confidential and are not subject to discovery or subpoena.
(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 332, Sec. 73. Effective January 1, 2013.)
A fee may be charged for participation in the program.
(Added by Stats. 1988, Ch. 385, Sec. 2.)
If the board contracts with any other entity to carry out this section, the executive officer of the board or the program manager shall review the activities and performance of the contractor on a biennial basis. As part of this review, the board shall review files of participants in the program. However, the names of participants who entered the program voluntarily shall remain confidential, except when the review reveals misdiagnosis, case mismanagement, or noncompliance by the participant.
(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 332, Sec. 74. Effective January 1, 2013.)
Participation in a diversion program shall not be a defense to any disciplinary action which may be taken by the board. This section does not preclude the board from commencing disciplinary action against a physician assistant who is terminated unsuccessfully from the program under this section. That disciplinary action may not include as evidence any confidential information.
(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 332, Sec. 75. Effective January 1, 2013.)