To break the code of silence that can shield abusive doctors, Delaware implemented the nation’s toughest mandatory reporting laws.
Every health care facility has a duty to report within 30 days, and the medical board is required to investigate when it receives reports. Fines can range up to $50,000. Law enforcement agencies are required to report new or pending investigations of suspected criminal conduct and the arrest of a doctor.
Every Delaware doctor is also required to report fellow practitioners when he or she reasonably believes they may be guilty of unprofessional conduct or unfit to practice. The reports must be made within 30 days of becoming aware of the information, and state law imposes a fine or up to $50,000 for non-compliance.
Former pediatrician Earl Bradley is serving a life sentence. Authorities say he sexually abuse more than a thousand infants and children.
Those laws were also spurred by a notorious case – that of Dr. Earl Bradley, a pediatrician who sexually violated thousands of infants and children. He is now serving a life sentence.
Michigan is among the states with the most lax laws, the AJC found. Among the shortcomings, Michigan’s law doesn’t stipulate a penalty for health care facilities that fail to report doctors as required.
In Georgia, state law does not require doctors to report fellow physicians, nor are courts required to notify the board of doctors' criminal convictions. And while hospitals can lose their permit for failure to notify the medical board about actions against doctors involving the medical care of a patient, none has ever received this sanction, state officials told the AJC. A state legislator is now pushing a bill that would require all state health care professionals to report any physician they believe has committed a sexual assault on a patient.
Details on duty-to-report laws in every state are at doctors.ajc.com/states.