No rule, law changes sought after physician sexual misconduct reviewed

Georgia medical board says physicians must be educated

File photo
File photo (jynmeyer/SXC)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A yearlong review of physician sexual misconduct prompted by a newspaper investigation that drew national attention ended with the Georgia Composite Medical Board electing not to call for any changes in its rules or state laws regarding patient protection measures.

Following its investigation, the state medical board released a statement, saying "It is the intent of the Board to protect Georgia patients from physicians who use coercion or power for sex by educating physicians about the importance of reporting colleagues who may be committing boundary violations.”

The board said it is "investigating every allegation and involving law enforcement when the investigation reveals criminal activity" and is  "enforcing allegations that are proven by issuance of a Public Consent Order or revocation of their medical license."

In Georgia, the medical board is not legally required to notify law enforcement of potential criminal acts, but in Florida, the law requires the Board of Medicine to contact police.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution revealed in its award-winning investigation last year that two-thirds of Georgia's physicians disciplined for sexually violating patients were permitted to practice again.

When the I-TEAM turned the focus of that investigation toward Northeast Florida, we found only one of eight local medical professionals accused of sexual misconduct since 1998 had been convicted of a sex crime.

Just after the first “License to Betray” report aired, the I-TEAM learned about a physician assistant at CareSpot who is accused of exposing himself to a female patient. 

Jeffrey Edwards pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of exposure of sexual organs and was given probation. He also gave up his license to practice medicine. 

The I-TEAM is still waiting to hear back from the Florida Board of Medicine to find out if it will be taking any action to keep doctors from inappropriately touching patients. 

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