Colorado

State report card

The report card for each state contains the scores it received when we evaluated it for how well it protects patients against sexually abusive doctors. The overall rating is the average of the score the state received in each category. In states with two medical boards, one for osteopathic physicians and the other for medical doctors, the overall rating is based on an average of each board’s scores.

Click on the boxes below to read how Colorado did on each category — and how we calculated the score for the categories.

56

State rating (out of 100)

  • Board composition: 70
    Are consumer members included to balance physicians’ tendency to identify with their colleagues? More...
    A blueprint developed by The Federation of State Medical Boards recognized the importance of having independent public members on physician-dominated medical regulatory agencies. To assess the composition of disciplinary agencies, the AJC used three measures, with the most weight given to consumer representation. Top grades went to states where public members make up at least 40 percent of the board; where those members represent consumers and where neither they nor their family members have professional or financial ties to health care; and where women hold at least 40 percent of the board seats.
  • Criminal acts: 48
    Are medical regulators and law enforcement made aware of doctors’ criminal conduct? More...
    The medical profession has long recognized the power imbalance between doctors and patients. But only in recent years have states enacted three key laws to try to protect vulnerable patients from dangerous doctors. The AJC considered two of these laws the most important. Top grades went to states where physicians must undergo criminal background checks, with fingerprints, at initial license application and periodically; and where doctor-patient sexual contact has been made a criminal offense in recognition that patients cannot give meaningful consent. In addition, the AJC also rated states on whether medical boards that learn of allegations of criminal conduct must alert law enforcement.

More from Colorado

Highlighted case

Dr. Durand Jae Kahler

Even though the medical board found in 2000 that Kahler had engaged in sexual acts with three patients, it rejected a hearing panel’s recommendation that it revoke his license, opting instead for suspension and five years’ probation. Medical experts said he was unlikely to re-offend, and the board cited his remorse.

Then in 2012, he agreed to halt practice while the board investigated allegations he had repeatedly engaged in sex acts with a patient he was treating for anxiety and depression. The board then ordered him to permanently relinquish his license in 2013.

Kahler has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Researching a doctor

  • Accurate records of sexual abuse accusations against doctors are not always easily accessible. In Colorado, the best chance of finding problems is to search the records offered by the Colorado Medical Board. You can search for any board orders against Colorado doctors here. Please note that license search results typically include all public disciplinary actions, not just those involving sexual misconduct, and can sometimes include vague language. Also, some states deal with some disciplinary issues privately; private board orders are not included.

Complaint process

It is the board's policy to discourage anonymous complaints and it will not automatically investigate them. Instead, it reviews them on a case-by-case basis to decide whether to investigate.

Quoted

”[The doctor] was diagnosed with a sleep disorder that may have affected his judgment in beginning a personal relationship.”

— The Colorado Medical Board, on why a doctor engaged in sex with a patient. The board went on to say his conduct “occurred at a time of stress in his life.” The doctor voluntarily surrendered his license in 2004. Six years later, he was granted a restricted license.

Key fact

The medical board, by law, may not permanently revoke a license. Revocations last for two years, after which doctors may continue to reapply. A doctor can agree to give up his license permanently, but it will be publicly listed as “relinquishment,” according to board Director Karen McGovern.

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