The Executive Director of the Medical Board of California, Kimberly Kirchmeyer, has filed a complaint against pediatrician Dr. Robert Sears (license 60936) alleging negligence in his care of a toddler. Sears is charged with gross negligence, repeated negligent acts and failure to maintain adequate and accurate records. In his practice, Sears promotes an alternative vaccine schedule that delays childhood vaccines by months and even years from the schedule prescribed by the CDC. He exempted his patient from all vaccines for the rest of his childhood without adequately documented medical reasons. When the boy had a headache after being hit on the head, the doctor also failed to conduct a neurological test. The complaint states:
On June 23, 2014, patient J.G. presented to correspondent with a chief complaint of a headache with a history of patient “being hit on the head with a hammer” by Dad two weeks prior to the visit. A mention is made of a split lip prior to hammer incident without any additional history. A physical exam indicates, “no residual marks now.” No additional physical exam, including neurological testing, was performed and no assessment with plans was recorded.
The Medical Board of California is a state government agency which licenses and disciplines medical doctors. The Board provides two principal types of services to consumers: public-record information about California-licensed physicians, and investigation of complaints against physicians. Complaints against physicians in California may be filed by patients or the public and are reviewed by the medical board. If there is evidence of a violation, the case is forwarded to the state deputy attorney general. Following are the types of complaints reviewed by the Board:
Substandard Care (e.g., misdiagnosis, negligent treatment, delay in treatment, etc.)
Prescribing Issues (violation of drug laws, excessive/under prescribing)
Impairment (drug, alcohol, mental, physical)
Unlicensed practice, or aiding and abetting unlicensed practice
Unprofessional Conduct (e.g., breach of confidence, record alteration, filing fraudulent insurance claims, misleading advertising, arrest or conviction)
Office Practice Issues (e.g., failure to provide medical records to patient, failure to sign death certificate, patient abandonment)
A medical expert will be brought in to help with the investigation and examine the evidence. In a case such as the one against Dr. Sears, a pediatrics expert will review medical records, evidence and other information in order to thoroughly investigate the complaint. These experts are experienced in diagnosing and treating children’s illnesses, infections, injuries, and other health problems and are certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. After evaluating the negligence complaint, the pediatrics expert witness will present their review of the case to the court or Medical Board of California.