This newspaper’s recent article “Ohio doctors kept practicing after sexual misconduct” missed the mark by not presenting all that the State Medical Board of Ohio is currently doing to protect patients and ensure that doctors who commit sexual misconduct with patients do not practice again in Ohio.
While the article does mention that Ohio has a reputation for having one of the strictest medical boards in the country, it failed to outline why. The Board works diligently to ensure that having an Ohio medical license is a badge of honor — a privilege that is earned by many outstanding professionals in our state. While cases of sexual abuse are egregious, thankfully, they are the exception and not the standard.
The State Medical Board of Ohio does everything in its statutory power to suspend or revoke licenses of individuals who behave inappropriately. What may appear to be a delay in license revocation is an indication that we are working closely with our partners in law enforcement and with county prosecutors on criminal convictions — an outcome that brings both criminal and administrative discipline to offending licensees.
The Ohio Medical Board has also taken steps to increase the authority of the Board to address sexual violations, striving to go beyond what was originally provided in statute. Rules established in 2006 gave the Board the authority to discipline a licensee for instances of sexual misconduct, even in circumstances without a criminal conviction. Our authority expanded again in 2015 when we asked for — and the legislature granted — the ability to issue fines for misconduct. The work continues today with initiatives such as shortening the process of administrative hearings to expedite action against licensees, and revolutionizing the license application process so that we can gain better background information on our license applicants.
The Medical Board wants patients in Ohio to be empowered, informed consumers. While the investigation featured in this newspaper encouraged readers to submit their stories for future articles, it failed to mention how to utilize the Board’s website to review a physician’s license and record. You can search the history of your physician (https://license.ohio.gov/lookup/default.asp?division=78). The vast majority of Ohio’s physicians are excellent healthcare providers, and you will find that most have no formal board action. For those physicians with formal disciplinary action, you may access all of the public documents on the website.
In the event that you have experienced sexual misconduct at the hands of your physician, the State Medical Board of Ohio encourages you to file a confidential complaint (https://elicense.ohio.gov/oh_filecomplaint). The Board responds to these allegations with great urgency.
We look forward to partnering with people across Ohio as we work to protect the public through effective regulation of more than 67,000 medical licensees.
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Michael L. Gonidakis, JD, is president of the State Medical Board of Ohio.