Medical Board Penalizes Small Portion of Sexual Misconduct Allegations
The Medical Board of California takes disciplinary action against physicians in about one of seven complaints of sexual misconduct, the Ventura County Star reports. Over a six-year period, the board disciplined doctors in 123 out of 803 sexual misconduct cases, according to the Star.
Candis Cohen, spokesperson for the board, said many of the complaints were dropped by the board because they involved a misunderstanding of the law.
According to the Star, patients sometimes complain about necessary components of a medical exam that they interpret as inappropriate touching.
Cohen said that "if the facts substantiate a complaint, we will prosecute" (Kisken , Ventura County Star, 1/6).
Of the 123 doctors disciplined for sexual misconduct, 78 of them surrendered their licenses or had them revoked. The board is likely to terminate a physician's practice if the violation includes a forced act or more than one victim, according to the Star.
The other 45 doctors disciplined by the board kept their license, but most of them were placed on long probations. Seven were given only public reprimands (Kisken , Ventura County Star, 1/6).
After a 2004 report on the medical board highlighted delays in complaint handling, the board overhauled the process in order to handle allegations immediately.
Legislation passed two years ago requires the board to partner with the Attorney General's Office to conduct investigations and prosecute doctors. The board used to investigate allegations separately and let the attorney general handle the prosecution.
Cohen said the changes will not affect the emphasis given by the board to sexual misconduct cases (Kisken , Ventura County Star, 1/6).