How well does Georgia protect its patients against sexually abusive doctors?


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How well does Georgia protect its patients against sexually abusive doctors?

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Illustrations by Richard Watkins / AJC
As part of the “Doctors & Sex Abuse” series, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution studied five categories of laws in every state to determine the best and worst at protecting patients from sexually abusive doctors.

Only a few states have anything close to a comprehensive set of laws that put patients first in cases where they are sexually abused by doctors. Georgia is not one of them. 

That’s according to a groundbreaking national investigation into doctors and sexual abuse by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The newspaper’s findings explain how it’s possible for a doctor who has served time for sexually abusing patients to be able to continue seeing patients: In most states, there’s no law against it. 

To determine the best and the worst states for patient protection in these cases of abuse, the AJC assessed all 50 states and the District of Columbia by examining five categories of laws in every state and giving each a score up to 100 possible points. The categories were transparency, duty-to-report, board composition, criminal acts and discipline laws. 

Each state was then given an overall score based on the five categories.  

With an overall score of 55, Georgia ranked No. 34 in the nation. The lax laws can have repercussions for patients. In Georgia, the newspaper uncovered a case where a doctor who was sentenced to four years in prison after he was found guilty of writing more than 120 illegal prescriptions in exchange for sexual favors was allowed to return to practice. 

No state met the highest bar in every category, the AJC found. But Delaware did the best with a score of 91 points overall and also scored the best nationally in the duty-to-report category. 

The worst state for patient protection against sexually abusive doctors is Mississippi, according to the AJC study, with an overall score of 37 points. 

Eight other states also scored less than 50 out of 100 points. 

Transparency: 68 

Duty-to-report: 48 

Board composition: 60 

Criminal acts: 28 

Discipline laws: 70 



- Visit to read the entire series, including cases from every state, tips for staying safe and more.

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