Atlanta Journal-Constitution Investigation Finds Medical Licensing Laws Protect Doctors, Not Patients

Nationwide Analysis Reveals Faulty Framework, Dangerous Gaps in
Patient Protections

ATLANTA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–On Thursday, Nov. 17, The
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
(AJC) releases the first-of-its-kind
report card that shows how well states protect patients from dangerous
doctors. This is the latest in a groundbreaking national investigation
into doctors and sex abuse.

The AJC studied laws in every state in the nation to determine which
states are the best — and the worst — at shielding patients from
sexually abusive doctors. The statutes it examined covered everything
from the duty to report bad doctors and the mandates to revoke the
licenses of the worst, to who serves on medical disciplinary boards. It
also considers how much information patients are allowed to see about
doctors who have gotten into trouble.

Not a single state met the highest bar in every one of the five
categories of laws the AJC examined. Meanwhile, in 49 states and the
District of Columbia, multiple gaps in laws can leave patients
vulnerable to abusive physicians. Delaware was the only state with a
comprehensive package of laws.

“Every state in the nation can look at this report and find out what can
be done to protect citizens from dangerous doctors,” Editor Kevin Riley
said. “The findings of our ‘Doctors & Sex Abuse’ series show that
predatory doctors are out there and are not always stopped by the laws
on the books today.”

For the first time, patients can easily see how well their state stacks
up and where patient protections fall short. Trailing the nation, with
scores below 50 out of 100 points, are Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho,
Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

Highlights of the exclusive AJC investigation:

Few barriers for felons: Only six states have laws requiring
permanent license revocation for physicians convicted of felonies
involving sexual misconduct.

Enforcement power lags: In 21 states, no penalties are
specified for hospitals that break the law and fail to report abusive
physicians to medical boards. Medical regulators have said they lack the
power to enforce the reporting laws.

Criminal histories unchecked: Fourteen states still do not
require criminal checks before giving a license to someone who can
prescribe powerful drugs and ask patients to strip down and submit to
being touched.

• Patient voices limited: In most states, doctors dominate
medical regulatory agencies and have the authority to decide who is fit
to practice medicine. National standards call for strong consumer
representation, but many states fall short.

To read the AJC’s investigation, and explore the 50-state report card,
go to

About The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is the leading source – both in print
and online – of news, information and advertising for metropolitan
Atlanta, reaching a total print and online audience of 1.6 million
people each week. Every month, nearly 6.4 million unique visitors access
the newspaper’s websites, including, and Our newsroom is the largest in Georgia with more than
150 journalists. We report on a metro area that has more than 5 million
people and cover five core counties and more than 20 city governments.
Plus, the AJC has a dedicated investigations team of 11 reporters and
editors – a combined 285 years of experience – demanding integrity and
effectiveness from local governments and businesses. The Atlanta
Journal-Constitution is part of Cox Media Group, a publishing, digital
media and broadcasting subsidiary of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises.


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Drue Miller, 404-526-2692