Why Don’t Maryland Doctors Get Background Checks?

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Ugh: so after an Allegany County doctor sexually assaulted a patient, the state Board of Physicians looked into the guy. And found that he had been convicted of breaking into a woman’s home and raping her at gunpoint. (That article is an extremely troubling example of how powerful men are allowed to keep committing sexual assault, by the way. In sentencing William Dando to less time than guidelines recommended, the judge expressed sympathy for his position, and agreed that he was unlikely to reoffend… Yeah.)  So how did he get a medical license? Because Maryland doesn’t do background checks before allowing doctors to practice in the state.

As the Baltimore Sun points out, plenty of other state-licensed professions, from social workers to nurses, have to undergo background checks. If Dando had applied for one of those jobs, its likely that his rape conviction would have disqualified him. But doctors? We don’t peer too closely at their pasts.

In most other states, medical boards are permitted to conduct criminal background checks before granting doctors a license to practice. (That doesn’t necessarily mean that they do it, of course.) Maryland is one of about a dozen states that lack the authority to investigate prospective doctors’ pasts. It seems likely that Dando’s case might inspire the state legislature to change that policy in the years to come.



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