Frequently Asked Questions – Complaint Review Process
What will happen once I send the Board my complaint?
When the Board receives your complaint, it will be entered into our automated system and assigned a "control number." If your complaint is not within the jurisdiction of the Board, it will be referred to the appropriate agency and you will be notified by mail. If the complaint appears to be within the Board's jurisdiction, an acknowledgment letter will be sent advising you that the Board has received your complaint and that it will be forwarded to an analyst for review. If your complaint concerns the care and treatment you received from a physician assistant, the analyst will request copies of your medical records and a written summary of your care from the physician assistant, with your Authorization for Release of Medical Information. The analyst also may contact any subsequent physician(s) listed on your authorization form. When all of the requested records have been received, you will be notified that your complaint is being sent to a medical consultant for review. The reviews are completed by physicians practicing in the same medical specialty as the physician assistant named in your complaint. For more information on complaints or the consultant review process, please link to our brochures, A Consumer's Guide to the Complaint Process and Most Asked Questions About Medical Consultants. The analyst handling your complaint will notify you in writing of the findings once the review has been completed.
How long does the whole complaint review process take?
There is no specific time frame in which complaints are handled. Once a complaint is received, it will be reviewed by an analyst. The analyst will gather the necessary information to evaluate the complaint. Depending on the complexity of the complaint, it may take several months to review and/or resolve. Refer to our brochure, A Consumer's Guide to the Complaint Process for more information.
Will the Physician Assistant know I have filed a complaint?
The "source" of the complaint information (the complainant) is confidential and is not disclosed by the Physician Assistant Board. However, if the complaint deals with your care and treatment, the Board's staff will request a copy of your medical records so the physician assistant involved knows that a complaint has been filed regarding your treatment. He/she will not be told who filed the complaint.
I am having difficulty with the care I am receiving right now from my physician assistant. Can the Board assist me?
The Physician Assistant Board is responsible for reviewing the care and treatment provided by physician assistants and will review the concerns you are having. However, the Board cannot intervene or alter a physician assistant’s medical care while he/she is providing treatment. You might wish to consult with another physician or, if possible, change doctors.
What can the Board do for me? What's the purpose in sending a complaint to the Board?
The Physician Assistant Board of California is charged with ensuring that physician assistants are practicing medicine within "the standard of practice in the medical community." The Board's authority is limited to pursuing administrative action against the physician assistant’s license to practice medicine (e.g., suspension, revocation, issuing citations for some violations of law and requiring probation or monitoring). The Physician Assistant Board cannot assist you in pursuing civil litigation against the physician for "malpractice." The Physician Assistant Board cannot share any of the information, records or reports gathered during the course of its review or investigation with the patient or family members.
I have heard that Physician Assistant X is prescribing large amounts of pain medication to people who are addicted to this medication. Will the Board investigate Physician Assistant X?
This concern can be investigated by the Board. However, to investigate a physician assistant’s care/treatment, the Board needs information on a patient or patients. The Board can't assess the "quality" of care without focusing on a particular patient, as the Board has no authority to audit or review a physician assistant’s medical records without patient consent (or a subpoena which needs to be specific to a patient). If you have any information which you think would be helpful or if you know of any patients who are willing to cooperate with our investigation, please feel free to contact the Board at 800-633-2322 or file a complaint with the Board.
Can I file a complaint without giving my name?
A complaint can be filed anonymously; however, the Board has a difficult time investigating these complaints. If the Board is unable to obtain documentation or evidence of the complaint allegations, the complaint may not be able to be pursued. The Board does accept complaints from individuals who wish to designate themselves as "confidential informants." A "code name" can be used which would allow investigative personnel to discuss the allegations with the "complainant" without disclosing the individual's name. But, again, if medical records are required, the patient's name will have to be disclosed to the physician.
Can I find out whether any complaints have been filed against my physician assistant?
Complaint investigations being conducted by the Physician Assistant Board are not public information, so this information cannot be disclosed to you. It would become public information at the point that formal "charges" (or an "Accusation") has been filed. Enforcement-related documents are available on our website by selecting Enforcement Public Document Search.
Can I file my complaint electronically from the website?
Yes. Please visit Complaint Information.
Can the Physician Assistant Board help me in filing a lawsuit or malpractice case against the physician assistant?
The Board's authority is limited to pursuing administrative action against the physician assistant's license to practice medicine (e.g., suspension, revocation, issuing citations for some violations of law and requiring probation or monitoring). The Physician Assistant Board cannot assist you in pursuing civil litigation against the physician assistant for "malpractice." The Physician Assistant Board cannot share any of the information, records or reports gathered during the course of its review or investigation with the patient or family members, nor can the Board provide referrals to attorneys.
Can the Physician Assistant Board provide help in finding a physician who takes MediCare or MediCal?
The Physician Assistant Board does not provide physician referrals. You may contact your local medical society in your area for assistance.
As a senior citizen, how can I obtain information for medical services?
The Physician Assistant Board of California is not a "medical service" provider. You may wish to look in your local yellow pages under Community Services for Seniors or contact the Department of Aging at 800-510-2020 (in California) or 800-677-1116 (outside California).
As a licensed physician assistant, am I required to report another physician assistant to the Board if I am concerned that the physician assistant may be physically or mentally impaired?
There is no mandatory reporting requirement in the Medical Practice Act to report a colleague for possible impairment. However, as the Board's mission is to provide patient protection, the Board clearly is concerned about physician assistants who potentially present a danger to their patients. Reporting an impaired colleague to the Physician Assistant Board will allow the Board to ensure adequate protections are in place so the public will not be harmed by a colleague who requires assistance. The sources of complaint information are kept confidential by the Board.