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by Joyia Emard


The Medical Board of California urges consumers to take a minute or two to check up on their doctor’s license. A license checkup is simple and helps consumers make informed choices when choosing a doctor.

To check a doctor’s license, go to the Medical Board’s website at www.mbc.ca.gov. If you don’t have access to a computer, you can call (800) 633-2322 and someone at the Medical Board will assist you in looking up the doctor.

To use the website to search for a license, click on “License Search” on the homepage. Then, under “Physician and Surgeon” click “Search by Name.”

Enter the doctor’s last name and first initial. If it is a common last name, enter the entire first name. Make sure the names are spelled correctly. Then click “Search.”

When a list of names comes up, click on his or her name. Review the license details and scroll down to determine whether any disciplinary or other public actions are listed at the bottom of the page.

A tutorial here takes consumers through the steps of the license search.

Recently, the Medical Board of California was rated best Medical Board in the nation by Consumer Reports for website access to information about physicians. According to the May 2016 issue, “Consumer Reports and the Informed Patient Institute, a nonprofit patient group, analyzed the websites of boards in all 50 states to see how complete the information was and how easy they were to use, and rated them on a 1-100 scale.”

The Medical Board of California topped the “Best Five” list, with a score of 84. Others in the best five included New York (79), Massachusetts (78), Illinois (76), and North Carolina (76).

“In these days of social media, consumers need to know they can get a significant amount of information about their doctors on the Medical Board’s website,” said Executive Director Kim Kirchmeyer. “The information will assist patients in making an informed decision about their doctor.”

Ms. Kirchmeyer noted that of the 132,370 physicians licensed by the Medical Board to practice in California, only a fraction has disciplinary action by the Medical Board.

“But to a consumer, it is important to know if your doctor is in that group,” she said.

She added that along with the Medical Board’s disciplinary action, the website also has information on certain misdemeanor convictions, malpractice information, hospital disciplinary actions, as well as felony convictions and action taken by another state or federal agency.

If you have any questions regarding your doctor’s profile, please contact the Medical Board at (800) 633-2322 or discuss them with your doctor.


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When working to stop a wildfire, time is of the essence. Firefighters have minutes to hold back a blaze, and any disruptions can cost property and lives.

During the recent Trailhead Fire, firefighting operations were disrupted by a hobby drone flown above the fire to take personal videos and photos. The drone operator was arrested for allegedly interfering with the firefighting efforts in that area.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), there has been a surge in hobby drones interfering with firefighting efforts over the last two years. Cal Fire recently launched its “If You Fly, We Can’t!” campaign, asking the public to never fly drones near wildfires.

“When a hobby drone flies in the path of our aircraft, we have no choice but to pull back our airtankers and helicopters until the drone is removed,” said Cal Fire Chief Dave Teter, deputy director of fire protection.

Aerial firefighting aircraft, such as planes and helicopters, fly at very low altitudes to drop fire retardant and water onto the fire. If a drone flies in the same air space, fire officials have to pull back the aircraft to avoid midair collisions.

To report irresponsible drone operators flying their drones close to disasters and emergencies, call 1-844-DRONE11 (1-844-376-6311). For more information, visit the Cal Fire website at www.fire.ca.gov.


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BPPE Logo Final2

Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education advises attendees of San Diego Area cosmetology school of their student rights.

SACRAMENTO – Tramy Van, 41, owner of Tramy Beauty School with facilities in Escondido and San Diego, was arrested Thursday, August 11, 2016, for felony grand theft and theft under false pretenses.

To read the full release, click here.


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With some of the strictest vehicle emissions standards in the Nation, many motorists in California are aware that sooner or later, their vehicle will be required to have a biennial (every other year) Smog Check inspection.

Let’sSMOG say your registration renewal notice indicated that your car needed a Smog Check, you took your vehicle to a Smog Check station and your vehicle failed the inspection.  Emissions-related repairs can vary and may be costly.  What is a consumer to do?  Check out the Repair Assistance option under the Bureau of Automotive Repair’s (BAR) Consumer Assistance Program (CAP).

CAP was designed to help improve California’s air quality and assist in the effort to ensure vehicles meet the State’s emissions standards. Eligible consumers may receive financial assistance up to $500 towards certain emissions-related repairs.  Since 2000, BAR has administered the program on a first-come, first-served basis, depending on availability of funds.

The requirements for the repair assistance program are as follows:

  • The vehicle must have failed its “biennial” Smog Check inspection.
  • The vehicle must not have a tampered emissions control system.
  • The vehicle must be currently registered with the DMV with a valid, unexpired registration sticker OR have all fees paid to the DMV and not have a registration that has been expired more than 120 days.
  • The vehicle registration must not have lapsed for more than 120 days during the two consecutive years preceding the current registration expiration date.
  • The vehicle must not be undergoing a transfer of ownership, initial registration, or re-registration in California.
  • The vehicle must not be registered to a business, fleet, or non-profit organization.
  • You must be the registered owner with title issued in your name.
  • You must have a household income that is less than or equal to two hundred twenty-five percent (225%) of the federal poverty level, as published in the Federal Register by the United States Department of Health and Human Services
  • You must not have previously received assistance for the same vehicle through CAP.

To highlight the benefits of the program, the Bureau of Automotive Repair and the California Department of Consumer Affairs developed a short video featuring an actual consumer who participated in the Consumer Assistance Program.

For more information about CAP and to download an application, please visit www.smogcheck.ca.gov.

Don’t forget.  Check the license!  Before taking your vehicle to a Smog Check station, it is important to verify that the station is licensed.  To verify a license, click here or go to www.bar.ca.gov and click the “License Search” button on the main page.

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006c0704pmEstablished by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), National Check the Chip Day was created as an awareness vehicle to remind pet owners to check and update the contact information on their microchipped pets.  Not just for dogs or cats—ferrets, birds and other companion pets can be microchipped too.

According to the AVMA, a study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9 percent of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2 percent of the time.  Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8 percent of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5 percent of the time.

What is a microchip?

A microchip is a permanent, electronic, tamper-proof form of identification for pets.  The size of a grain of rice, the “chip” is enclosed in a glass cylinder and implanted painlessly into the animal (typically between the shoulders and below the skull) by being injected under the skin using a hypodermic needle.  No surgery or anesthesia is required.

How does the “chip” help reunite a lost pet with its owner?

If a pet is separated from its owner and the pet’s tag is missing, the microchip is a permanent form of identification.  Most animal control, local shelters and veterinarians know to “check the chip” when unidentified pets are brought to them.

How does the microchip work?

Activated by a scanner that is passed over the area of insertion, the chip transmits the animal’s unique identification number to the scanner via radio waves, which displays the number on the screen.  The chip does not require a battery.

What information does the microchip contain?

Microchips currently used in pets only contain identification numbers.  They are not GPS tracking devices.  When a pet owner “chips” and registers their pet, an identification number is assigned and is then stored in the manufacturer’s database.  The medical history of the pet is not stored, only the contact information of the owner.

To support the notion of microchipping pets, the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) sites the following facts:

  • More than one million pets are lost or stolen each year.
  • One in three pets will get lost during their lifetime.
  • Without pet identification, 90 percent will not get home.
  • Overcrowded animal shelters often are forced to destroy lost pets unless they can be returned to their owners in a short time.
  • “Dog nappers” may eventually release the animals they have stolen, but they may end up miles from home.

When it comes to easily identifying a found pet and reuniting them with their owner, nothing replaces a secure collar tag with current information.  However, collar tags are not fool-proof as they can become unreadable, lost or removed, which is why the CVMA acknowledges the limitations of each type of pet identification and recommends both collar tags and microchips for pets.

For more information on microchipping pets, visit the California Veterinary Medical Association website at www.cvma.net.  You may also contact the Veterinary Medical Board via email with additional questions at vmb@dca.ca.gov.

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Summer’s not over yet. There’s still time to take a road trip to one of California’s manyConsumer connection summer 2016 state parks. From beaches and deserts to redwood forests and mountain summits, California parks offer a variety of amazing and beautiful sites to explore. The Consumer Connection article “Time for a Road Trip!” details 10 state parks—including Angel Island, Marshall Gold Discovery, Humboldt Redwoods, and Crystal Cove—to consider for your next destination, and ways to make sure your car is as ready for the trip as you are.

Also inside this issue is an article about the recently enacted California End of Life Option Act. The new law provides legal guidelines on how terminally ill adults can choose to die in a humane and dignified manner.

Readers will also find features about the recent trend of more Americans choosing to rent instead of buying a home, dealing with the repo man, the dangers of DIY braces, wills versus living trusts, the dangers of buying from a rogue online pharmacy, and more.

To download or read DCA’s award-winning Consumer Connection magazine, visit the DCA website. You can also pick up a printed copy in the DCA Headquarters lobby at 1625 North Market Boulevard in Sacramento. Or, to have a copy mailed to you at no charge, call (866) 320-8652 or send an e-mail request to consumerconnection@dca.ca.gov. Get connected!


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On Sunday, August 7, a spotted Michael Phelps swam his way to his 19th gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Phelps wasn’t the only swimmer sporting spots—which, by the way, are nearly the size of an Olympic medal. There are a number of swimmers—and other athletes—sporting them at the Olympics as well.

The spots are the result of cupping—an ancient Eastern technique that has gained a new popularity among some U.S. athletes, including quite a few Olympians. Cupping treats muscle pain by applying suction to the skin via heated small glass cups or bamboo jars. Once the cups have suction, they can be gently moved across the skin; the suction causes the skin and superficial muscle layer to be drawn into the cup. According to the Pacific School of Oriental Medicine (PCOM), cupping—which can be used alone or in combined with acupuncture—works like a reverse massage; instead of putting pressure on the muscle, the suction used in cupping uses gentle pressure to pull the muscles upward. Like acupuncture, cupping targets the meridian channels—the paths through which life energy flows freely throughout the body, through all tissues and organs—resulting in a smoother and more free-flowing qi, or life energy.

According to Ted Kaptchuk, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, cupping has been around in the U.S. since the 18th and 19th centuries, when it was a common part of American physician’s treatments; it fell out of practice in the 1920s when it was viewed as old-fashioned.

Does it work? PCOM states that “The suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can loosen muscles, encourage blood flow, and sedate the nervous system.” And, while there is still limited scientific evidence supporting cupping, Kaptchuk says that “what we do have, is that people feel better after it’s done.”

If you have an Olympic-sized—or not-so-Olympic sized—curiosity about acupuncture and cupping, visit the California Acupuncture Board’s website at www.acupuncture.ca.gov, where you can find answers to frequently asked questions as well as verify the license of a practitioner before making an appointment.

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Natl Immunization Awareness MonthShots aren’t just for kids—adults need them, too. Although the recent new State law, which went into effect July 1, highlights the importance of childhood shots, vaccines are vital for all ages. This is an important message from the National Immunization Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC).

Everyone should be vaccinated; the immunizations not only prevent you from getting sick, but it protects others as well by preventing the spread of illnesses. Adults should receive a flu vaccine each year, and vaccines for tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, and measles as recommended. A tetanus booster is recommended every 10 years. Adults 60 years of age and older should receive the shingles vaccine, and those 65 and older should receive one or more pneumococcal vaccine. Some adults may need vaccines to protect against hepatitis A and B, depending on their age, travel plans, and medical conditions.

There are vaccinations for different ages and health conditions, such as for pregnant women, babies and young kids, preteens and teens, and school-age children.

National Immunization Awareness Month is the perfect opportunity to check if you’re up to date on your shots, as well as to remind others—friends, family, co-workers—about getting vaccinated. Have your doctor assess your vaccination needs (for information on how to find a doctor or if you need to verify a license, visit the Medical Board of California’s website, www.mbc.ca.gov). Your local pharmacist may also be qualified to administer  vaccinations. Visit the Board of Pharmacy website (www.pharmacy.ca.gov) to learn more and to verify a license.

For more information about vaccinations and National Immunization Awareness Month, visit the NPHIC website at https://www.nphic.org/niam.

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Sacramento area man charged with practicing medicine without a license
and grand theft. 
James Joseph Martin, of West Sacramento, has been ordered not to practice chiropractic after his arrest for eight felony counts of grand theft and one felony count of practicing medicine without a license.

To read the full release, click here.



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