Physician behavior doesn’t have to be a mystery.
Writing in the Baltimore Sun, Scott Dance explains how recent controversy over the criminal past of a Maryland physician has reignited a debate about why 13 states (including Maryland) do not conduct background checks on doctors.
Under the radar: William Dando
Physician William Dando this fall will face a jury trial over allegations that he sexually assaulted a female patient in April while working at an urgent care center in Allegany County. Dando was fired from his position and has had his medical license suspended.
Since then, his 1987 felony conviction has come to light.
Felon clinicians who nearly 'got away with it'
In 1987 in Florida, Dando was convicted of following a woman home, breaking into her house, and raping her at gunpoint, according to court documents. Dando pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. In 1991, he was released after serving four years. Dando has been practicing medicine in Maryland since 1996.
"I think we all assume the people we're trusting our bodies and minds to are above reproach… given what we've seen… a lot more needs to be done," state Sen. James Robey (D) told Dance.
Previous attempts to introduce background checks
Currently, applicants for a Maryland medical license are asked to volunteer information about arrests, convictions, and crimes of "moral turpitude." In 2013, Robey sponsored a bill requiring background checks for a range of health care providers, including physicians, but it failed to pass.
"The pattern usually is something very egregious like this happens, and that's what makes legislators take action," says Lisa McGiffert, director of the Consumers Union's patient advocacy branch. "Most consumers would want to know if the physician they're going to had a felony conviction in their background."
Another 2013 bill, proposed by Del. Barbara Robinson (D), would have given the state's Board of Physicians and other licensing boards the right to conduct background checks. The state attorney general said both bills needed to create a statutory mandate for the background checks in order to gain access to a national FBI database of criminal records, Dance writes.
The difference between "may" and "shall" was enough to kill the legislation, Robinson told Dance, adding that she and Robey received little support from state licensing boards. "I received nothing in writing or anything from [the board] that they indicated they supported it," says Robey.
Robinson plans to reintroduce a bill mandating background checks in the House of Delegates. The Board of Physicians is also expected to offer proposed legislation (Dance, Baltimore Sun, 6/14).