Alliance for Patient Safety

                            All that is necessary for the triumph of evil...
                                                                ... is for good men to do nothing.

                                                                                                   Edmund Burke

Retaliation Against Physicians - Nosrat Khajavi, DO

Khajavi v. Feather River Anesthesia Medical Group
Issue: On February 12, 1999, CMA filed an amicus brief to discuss the meaning of Business & Professions Code §2056, the CMA-sponsored law which prohibits retaliation against physicians who advocate for medically appropriate health care. CMA filed the brief in an effort to have the Court of Appeal overturn the trial court’s ruling that protection afforded under B&P Code §2056 applies only to retaliatory actions by third party payors and not by medical groups, IPAs, or other entities that employ or contract with physicians to deliver health services. CMA argued that retaliation against a physician for patient advocacy is a matter of grave importance to the public health, welfare and safety. It is critical to the continuation of quality health care that physicians and other health care professionals be permitted and encouraged to raise objections without fear of retaliation, if they reasonably believe treatment practices or facilities are substandard. CMA further explained that this protection from retaliation necessarily extended not just against third party payors, but against any person or entity who has the ability to apply and render a decision to terminate or penalize a physician for advocating for medically appropriate health care.

Outcome: On October 10, 2000, the California Court of Appeal, Third District issued an opinion properly interpreting the scope of Business & Professions code §2056 to prohibit retaliation against physicians “for advocating for medically appropriate health care”. The prohibition applies to any “person” who engages in retaliation prohibited by the statute. This ruling is important to physicians since, had the lower court’s ruling been affirmed, Business & Professions Code §2056 would have been interpreted in a fashion which would severely undercut the protection the statute intended to provide to physicians.