District of Columbia

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 District of Columbia did on each category — and how we calculated the score for the categories.

65

State rating (out of 100)

  • Board composition: 65
    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: 76
    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?: 40 of 40
      It is a criminal offense for any doctor to falsely represent that sexual conduct is for therapeutic or medical purposes or to engage in sexual conduct when a doctor knows that the mental, emotional or physical condition of patient means they are impaired; state law also criminalizes sex acts, including sexual harassment, sexual contact, and lewd or offensive sexual conduct, that occur during exam, consultation, treatment, therapy or other provision of professional services.
  • Discipline laws: 70
    Do state laws strengthen oversight and discipline of problem physicians? More...
    Abusive physicians can be protected by laws that limit regulators’ ability to investigate cases and don’t require permanent revocation of doctor licenses for egregious offenses. To assess the legal environment for doctor discipline, the AJC examined four key laws. Top grades went to states that require permanent revocation of doctor licenses for some violations; where physicians who have been convicted of felonies or who have lost their licenses in other states cannot be licensed; where medical regulators are entitled to records and other proceedings of hospital peer review committees that examine doctor misconduct; and where there is a reasonable standard of proof required for disciplinary action against physicians, especially in sexual misconduct cases where there may be no independent witnesses.

More from District of Columbia

Highlighted case

Dr. Dwight King

In 2013, the D.C. medical board granted a license to King. The neurologist had surrendered his license to practice in South Dakota in 2006 after admitting to an improper relationship with a patient. The following year he pleaded no contest to a single count of sexual penetration by a psychotherapist.

Other physicians and former patients wrote letters of support for the doctor. The judge suspended imposition of the sentence, allowing King to be granted a clean record after completing 10 years on probation.

At the sentencing hearing in South Dakota, Judge Glen W. Eng said, “I understand that the decision that the court makes today impacts you. But I think it also impacts society. Society is saying that we cannot have people who are vulnerable, who because of their psychological situation, be placed in a position where they place trust on a person professionally and are then taken advantage of.”

King's original license to practice medicine in D.C. was granted in 1998 and expired at the end of 2002.

Noting the South Dakota case in King's 2013 reinstatement order, the D.C. board set conditions that included taking additional training on physician-patient boundaries and submitting to monitoring by a board-approved supervisory physician for at least a year.

The board terminated that order in 2015, ruling its terms and conditions had been satisfied. King's D.C. license is listed as active.

Reached by phone, King declined to comment.

Researching a doctor

  • Accurate records of sexual abuse accusations against doctors are not always easily accessible. In the District of Columbia, the best chance of finding problems is to search the records offered by the District of Columbia Board of Medicine. 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

The board will not accept anonymous complaints. However, the board, on its own motion, can ask its director to investigate a doctor based on information from an individual who doesn't file a signed complaint. The board's website advises that complaints are made available to the doctors in question, so they can respond to the allegations.

Where to file a complaint

Quoted

“He used his position to prey upon the most vulnerable population – inmates – and sexually abuse these men.”

—Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter V. Taylor, commenting on the sentencing of Dr. Lewis Jackson. The physician sexually abused a prisoner at the D.C. Jail in 2008 and several prisoners at a federal penitentiary in Atlanta in 2011. His D.C. license was revoked and he surrendered his Georgia license.

Key fact

Doctors can be sanctioned for sexual contact with a former patient, even if the relationship appears to be consensual, when the patient may still be vulnerable because of the power imbalance between doctors and patients and when sexual contact is likely to have an adverse impact on the patient.

  1. Click here to find your state!