Physician Licensing Board Might Curb Excessive Medication of Foster Children

Licensing Board Action May Be First in Nation

If foster children are medicated with too many psychotropic drugs, too often, too soon, too long, and with too little monitoring for adverse effects, should the state agency that licenses physicians take action?

California state senator Ted Lieu has said “yes” in a letter to the agency that grants and revokes licenses to engage in the practice of medicine.  In an August 25 letter to David Serrano Sewell, President of the California Medical Board, Senator Lieu, chair of the state senate committee that oversees licensing of professionals, has asked the licensing board to investigate “whether some doctors have been ‘operating outside the reasonable standard of care.’”  Lieu’s letter goes on to ask the Medical Board “to come up with recommendations to minimize . . . ‘two dangerous practices, namely, prescribing drugs not FDA-approved for children and prescribing without reviewing the child’s medical records, including past and current medications.’”

The senator’s letter garnered a quick response from the president of the Medical Board.  “’Drugging Our Kids’ [the title of the Mercury News’ series on this issue] is ‘a troubling article and raises a host of important issues.’  . . . The medical board’s executive director, Kimberly Kirchmeyer [said] her agency was taking the matter ‘very seriously’ and had indeed launched an investigation.”

The California investigation is the first time we know of that a medical licensing board has looked into the problem of “too many, too often, too soon, too little monitoring.”  Will the investigation lead to action?  Will similar investigations in other states follow?  We will keep you posted.

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