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Physician Abuse and How the Maryland Board of Physicians are Required to Respond

When you go into the doctor’s office, there is a certain level of trust that is given to your doctor to follow the Hippocratic oath to do no harm. It is a vulnerable place to be: sitting half-naked in a crinkly gown waiting for a doctor to invade your personal space in the name of medicine and health. We provide such trust in a doctor because we understand the years of studying and education, and the commitment and sacrifice that doctors make to follow the medical professional career path. Being licensed tells the world that the commitments were made, the time was spent, and that the person was vetted by the state’s medical board of physicians to provide this service. However, there are times when a doctor may cross the line and act in a way that is inappropriate, unprofessional, and abusive.

Maryland and its Physician Abuse Requirements

In Maryland, there are laws that require that where there are any allegations of a sexual offense made by a patient about a medical professional, there is an ethical duty to report the incident to law enforcement. Though there is this ethical duty and legal requirement to report, in a recent investigation published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, thousands of allegations of sexual abuse have gone unreported due to a failure by medical regulators, not due to patients not reporting.

Why Abusive Doctors are Getting Free Passes

Many of the regulatory agencies that would be responsible for investigating these types of crimes are usually run by physicians and medical professionals, and sometimes cases of abuse are not reported to law enforcement out of some foundational sense of “professional courtesy.” Sometimes allegations explained away and the doctor is able to take rehabilitative courses to show that it was a mere mistake. Many of these doctors are permitted to keep practicing and to keep abusing patients, and others who have been caught in the public eye for their indiscretions are allowed to retire in the night.

Most States Have Lax or No Reporting Requirement

Though all states across the boards have required ethical obligations to report any abuse where the victim is a child; a small minority of states, including Maryland, have laws that require medical regulators to notify law enforcement about abuse that happens against an adult. However, 39 states and the District of Columbia do not have notification obligations. Maryland’s law, however, does not have much in the way of teeth: it provides that it is up to the Board of Physicians to determine whether there is enough information in the record to suggest that criminal activity took place. Many Boards, when confronted with the disparity, stated that many times there is an issue about the right of the Board to make decisions on behalf of the victim. Too many Boards, it is the responsibility of the victim to go to the police where they believe abuse occurred, or the Board may have reasonable grounds to believe that the victim does not want them to go to the police at all.

Maryland’s Background Check Law

Maryland recently passed a law in efforts to help vet doctors better. According to the new law, all new doctors receiving their licenses must go through a background check. As for doctors who are not newly licensed, they must, as of October 1, 2016, go through background checks with the renewal of their licenses.

Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You

If you or a loved one have been abused or otherwise the victim of inappropriate actions by a medical professional, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney in Maryland. Please call the Law Office of Robert R. Castro at (301) 804-2312 for a confidential consultation.