“No doctor should ever look at a patient as ‘prey’.” (Dr John Hall)
University of Mississippi Medical Center physician shines a much-needed light on wimpy discipline of physician sexual predators. Mississippi ranks 51st in patient protection.
Last April a Consumer Reports investigation found that the state of Mississippi ranked dead-last, among all medical boards nationwide, when it comes to physician discipline of sexual misbehavior. And now, Doctor John Hall, Mississippi Medical Board’s Executive Director, has a plan to change that ugly reality. He is working with state legislators to make any and all sexual behavior with a patient, by a physician, a felony.
“The goal here is to include this in the Mississippi Criminal Code. As a felony penalty, this would include permanent revocation of the medical license, which is not possible by current medical practice statutes, The plan is for a conviction to include mandatory restitution and possibly a prison term.”
Hall’s aggressive tact matches an investigation done by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which found that Mississippi ranked 51st, including Washington DC, in protecting patients from sexual predator doctors.
Hall, who is also an attorney, takes the position that mutual consent between a physician and a patient is impossible, because of the “insurmountable power barrier.”
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation, “only 11 states have laws requiring medical authorities to report to police suspected sexual crimes on adults.”
Hall said that the state of Washington has an excellent program in place, and one that would be proper and effective for Mississippi.
Doctor Lee Voulters, Mississippi State Medical Association President, says, “We all agree that a physician should not have sexual relations with a patient. They are in a position of power and influence. It’s unethical, it’s immoral and it shouldn’t happen. Our number one goal is patient safety,” Voulters said. “My only hesitation is, what should the punishment be?”
He observed that attitudes toward physician misbehavior have changed. “Fifteen years ago, we didn’t even talk about disruptive physicians.”