Hawaii

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

47

State rating (out of 100)

  • Board composition: 55
    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: 20
    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 Hawaii

Highlighted case

Dr. Robert McCormick Browne

Over decades, Browne drugged and molested dozens of students at a school where he worked as its designated psychiatrist. Authorities said he targeted male students for abuse that went on from about 1958 to 1985.

He committed suicide in 1991 after a student threatened to expose him.

A lawsuit against the school was filed in 2014, and a second one was filed this year. The plaintiffs allege that high-level administrators at the school were told of Browne’s sexual abuse of students and failed to act, then undertook a cover-up over many years to conceal his abuse.

Researching a doctor

  • Accurate records of sexual abuse accusations against doctors are not always easily accessible. In Hawaii, the best chance of finding problems is to search the records offered by the Hawaii Medical Board. 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 online complaint form, in bold type, advises the public to attempt to resolve the complaint with the physician first. The form asks if the person filing the complaint has contacted the doctor to try to resolve it and whether the person would be willing to testify. However, the state agency that handles complaints says it will accept anonymous ones.

Quoted

“Then, unfortunately, I directed the conversation toward the advantages and disadvantages of different ways to have intercourse, stating for example that some women prefer some way better than another, or that some difficulties can be overcome if the man acts very gentle, etc. etc. This was certainly very inappropriate.”

— A doctor to the state board. He was accused of lewd remarks with a patient and touching her breast. The state rejected an examiner’s recommendation that his license be suspended and decided on a conditional license. Among the restrictions: He had to attend Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.

Key fact

The state only keeps disciplinary information on its website for five years, one of the most limited periods in the nation.

  1. Click here to find your state!