The bill, approved in a vote of 131-27, now goes to the Senate. Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta, is the bill’s lead sponsor.
In 2016, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s prize-winning Doctors & Sex Abuse series exposed a broken system that forgave sexually abusive doctors in every state. The series, which uncovered thousands of cases, was launched after the AJC found that two-thirds of the doctors disciplined in Georgia for sexual misconduct were permitted to practice again.
The Georgia Composite Medical Board asked for the legislation that was approved Friday as part of a national effort by the Federation of State Medical Boards to better protect patients from sex abuse. That action was prompted by the AJC’s reporting, the #MeToo movement and cases of abuse by physicians that received national attention, said Dr. Alexander Gross, a dermatologist and member of the Georgia medical board. Gross served on the FSMB panel that developed the new guidance and strongly supports the bill.
“The public needs to understand that the board is committed to making sure that we protect them — that’s what our mission is,” Gross said. “This law will be a tool to help us do that.”