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 Delaware did on each category — and how we calculated the score for the categories.


State rating (out of 100)

  • Duty-to-report laws: 100
    Are colleagues and institutions that are aware of potential physician misconduct required to notify regulators? More...
    To break the code of silence that can shield abusive doctors, the best states have laws requiring all physicians and health care institutions to notify regulators of potential violations. To assess these laws, the AJC used five measures. Top grades went to states where a broad range of health care facilities, not only hospitals, are required to notify regulators of alleged physician misconduct; where there is a deadline of no more than 30 days for making those reports; where penalties for failing to report are clear and significant; where doctors are required to report fellow practitioners; and where courts or law enforcement agencies must notify regulators when a doctor is criminally convicted.
    • Which health care facilities must report doctors to medical regulators?: 20 of 20
      Every health care facility has a duty to report any change in privileges and any reasonably substantiated incidents involving violence, threat of violence, abuse or neglect toward any person. Also, within 30 days of becoming aware that a doctor may be guilty of unprofessional conduct or may be unable to practice with reasonable skill or safety, all health care institutions must report.
    • Are physicians required to report peers?: 20 of 20
      Every medical professional is required to report colleagues when the practitioner reasonably believes they are or may be guilty of unprofessional conduct or unfit to practice. The board may suspend or revoke a physician's license for failing to report.
  • Board composition: 93
    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: 98
    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.
    • Has the state criminalized sexual misconduct involving doctors and patients?: 32 of 40
      A health professional who provides professional physical or mental health services and who engages in acts of sexual contact or sexual penetration or sexual intercourse shall be deemed to be doing so without consent of the victim where such acts are committed under the guise of providing professional diagnosis, counseling or treatment and where at the times of such acts the victim reasonably believed the acts were for medically or professionally appropriate diagnosis, counseling or treatment.

More from Delaware

Highlighted case

Dr. Gregory Villabona

Delaware licensed Villabona, a psychiatrist, even though in 2002 he had pleaded guilty in Maryland to two criminal charges involving sex offenses on a female minor in cases that dated back to 1978 and 1983. He had been indicted on 30 counts, including rape. His sentence in Maryland was five years’ probation before judgment.

The Delaware medical board in 2003 placed restrictions on his license, but a court stayed that order, court documents show. The court released him early from probation in 2005. The board, which also shortened his probation, said Villabona could only practice on patients 18 and older unless he had an adult chaperone and told patients of the Maryland guilty plea.

In 2007, the board extended his probation because it found he had violated the chaperone provision. Then in 2008, the board said it had a complaint from 2006 that he’d had "consensual" sex with a patient, a 22-year-old who was described as a victim of child sex abuse that Villabona was treating for depression. The board then restricted the doctor to seeing only adult male patients..

Villabona 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 Delaware, the best chance of finding problems is to search the records offered by the Delaware Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline. 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

Anonymous complaints are prohibited by law. However, the board said it may keep the name of the complainant confidential in some cases.

Where to file a complaint


“Beyond the feelings of betrayal, embarrassment, humiliation and anxiety readily associated with this sort of misconduct by a health care provider, Plaintiff feels anger and remorse because she did not physically retaliate when Defendant put his hand on her."

— Court document in a lawsuit against a doctor who had been convicted of rape and attempted rape of two female patients in a pain clinic. His license was revoked in 2001.

Key fact

In 2010 Gov. Jack Markell signed legislation allowing victims who have been sexually abused by a healthcare provider to file suit at any time after the abuse took place.

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