State pledges to crack down on physician sexual misconduct

Following a lengthy investigation by the Chicago Tribune, uncovering a pattern in which physicians accused of sexual misconduct faced little to no professional consequences, the state of Illinois is considering new legislation to crack down on doctors who take advantage of their patients.

Currently at the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, three probation agents monitor nearly 7,500 state license-holders who committed violations ranging from substance abuse to sexual abuse. Disciplined doctors fall under the same supervision system as sanctioned locksmiths and cosmetologists, the newspaper reports.

Although state legislators agree that stricter regulations, such as those on the books in California and Minnesota, are needed, the state has not reached consensus on the proper reforms.

The following possibilities are being proposed:

  • State Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago) with the support of House Speaker Michael Madigan, plans to call a bill that would resurrect public access to the physician profiles, a move that has been fiercely opposed by the state medical society.
  • State Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) said he plans to strengthen legislation he recently introduced that would make healthcare workers whose licenses are revoked because of sex-crime convictions unable to reapply for the license for at least five years. However, it does not require that the license be revoked in the first place.
  • State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) has introduced legislation that would mandate revocation in the cases of doctors convicted of sexual assault or battery of a patient, and not just those involving felonies.
  • Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office is crafting legislation that would require law enforcement officials and state regulators to share patient complaints against doctors, while contemplating other possible changes.

"The Tribune investigation has shown there needs to be a comprehensive overhaul of how these cases are handled, both administratively and criminally," said Cara Smith, Madigan's deputy chief of staff. "It needs to be turned on its head at all levels."

To learn more:
- read this article from the Chicago Tribune
- see the rest of the newspaper's investigative series