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Thursday, December 15, 2016

How Well Does Your State Protect Patients?

By Carrie Teegardin
Atlantic Journal-Constitution
A series on Physicians and Abuse

Here is an excerpt:

In most states, doctors dominate medical licensing boards and have the authority to decide who is fit to practice medicine and who isn’t. Usually the laws do not restrict a board’s authority by mandating certain punishments for some types of violations. Many licensing boards — including Georgia’s — say that’s how it should be.

“Having a bold, bright line saying a felony equals this or that is not good policy,” said Bob Jeffery, executive director of the Georgia Composite Medical Board.

Jeffery said criminal courts punish offenders and civil courts can compensate victims. Medical regulators, he said, have a different role.

“A licensing board is charged with making sure a (doctor) is safe to practice and that patients are protected,” he said.

With no legal prohibition standing in the way in most states, doctor-dominated medical boards often decide that doctors busted for abusive or illegal behaviors can be rehabilitated and safely returned to exam rooms.

New Jersey licensed a doctor convicted of sexual offenses with four patients. Kansas licensed a doctor imprisoned in Ohio for a sexual offense involving a child; that doctor later lost his Kansas license after making anonymous obscene phone calls to patients. Utah licensed a doctor who didn’t contest misdemeanor charges of sexual battery for intentionally touching the genitals of patients, staff members and others.

The article is here.