Illustrations by Richard Watkins / AJC

An AJC National Investigation

State secrets

System shields doctors’ abuse nationwide, leaves patients in dark

A southern California plastic surgeon calls himself an artist, one whose “gifted hands” sculpt bodies to perfection. Sometimes, though, his hands strayed. So last year regulators placed the him on probation for sexual misconduct with patients until 2020. But when patients come to his office for breast enlargements and tummy tucks, liposuction and eyelifts, he doesn’t have to tell them about his disciplinary status. Or about the woman he kissed while examining her surgical scars. Or the patient with whom he had sex on an examination table while her husband waited outside with their children. Continue reading

Gaps, cloaks and barriers

There are many reasons why you’ll never know if your doctor is a sex abuser

In most states, patients will have a difficult time finding out if their doctors have been disciplined for sexual abuse or other violations. Some of those obstacles are intentional. Continue reading

State Secrets: More from Part 3


Our report card

We grade every state on how well they protect you from abusive physicians.