A Bakersfield mother whose pregnant daughter died because of alleged medical negligence called for reform of the California Medical Board during a press conference Thursday, ahead of testimony she's expected to give in front of a state Senate committee set to review the board's standing.
“I am angry that my daughter lost her life, and my grandson, to a failed and broken system,” said mother Tracy Dominguez, who lost her daughter Demi and her unborn grandson. “She had plans for her future she worked hard to achieve. She died one month before her college graduation. … It was not supposed to be like this.”
The press conference aimed to bring attention to the California Medical Board for failing to properly hold doctors accountable. Advocates and other individuals coping with alleged medical negligence sought Thursday to have consumer input on the board and other reforms.
The medical board undergoes a sunset review every four years, said Carmen Balber, the executive director of Consumer Watchdog, the nonprofit that organized the press conference. The Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee conducts this review to determine the Medical Board’s standing, she added.
However, Balber said the slew of complaints filed against the state's Medical Board compelled committee chair Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, to hold another sunset review this year.
“It is extraordinarily rare — in fact, I am not aware of it ever happening before — that the … legislative committee that is charged with regulating the board, does so in an off year,” Balber added. “Usually, they have a sunset review and then it’s over for the next four years. … It really is an indicator of the extreme pressure to fix this board for the better.”
Medical Board President Kristina Lawson said the board is focused on protecting consumers, which led them to propose several bills to fulfill this mission.
“We recognize that many lack confidence in the Board and we are committed to improvement,” Lawson said in a statement to The Californian. “We look forward to continuing our discussion with the Legislature, and other stakeholders, on our proposals and other changes to the law that will strengthen the work of the Board.”
Dominguez lost her 23-year-old pregnant daughter and the baby she was carrying after she suffered from a seizure in 2019. The doctor in the case, Arthur Park, agreed to surrendering his license Dec. 3 rather than face an administrative hearing. Park had been placed on probation two other times in connection to similar instances, according to documents provided by the board.
“I blame the doctors for her death,” Dominguez said. “I blame the California Medical Board for her death.”
This story has been updated to include comment from the California Medical Board.
You can reach Ishani Desai at 661-395-7417. You can also follow her at @idesai98 on Twitter.