New Mexico

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

62

State rating (out of 100)

  • Board composition: 58
    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.
    • Is the public well represented?: 35 of 50
      The medical board has two public members, six physicians and one physician assistant. Under a new law, the osteopathic board will have seven members, , including two public members, four physicians and one physician assistant.
  • Criminal acts: 60
    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 New Mexico

Highlighted case

Dr. Mark E. Walden

Walden was accused of molesting inmates at state correctional facilities in the guise of performing prostate examinations. Nurses were among those who told the medical board of concerns, saying that he seemed to single out inmates in their 20s and 30s.

The first complaints were filed in 2010, but the inmates’ complaints were deemed “hearsay” and no action was taken.

In 2013, the board suspended him and set out terms if he ever were to return to practice.

As of January 2016, a total of 78 inmates claimed they were abused. The Department of Justice opened a criminal investigation of alleged civil rights violations, and at least 15 lawsuits have been filed in the case, several of which were settled out of court, according to news reports.

Walden contacted the Journal-Constitution but declined to speak on the record.

Researching a doctor

  • Accurate records of sexual abuse accusations against doctors are not always easily accessible. In New Mexico, the New Mexico Medical Board regulates MD physicians and surgeons. You can search for those actions here. Osteopathic physicians are regulated by the New Mexico Board of Osteopathy. You can view the records that board offers here. The board's website also offersa list of disciplinary actions. 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 Medical Board accepts anonymous complaints. The executive committee of the board then reviews the allegations to determine if formal investigation is warranted. Anonymous complaints are not accepted for osteopaths. The New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department complaint form for osteopaths must be signed and notarized.

Where to file a complaint

Quoted

“Recommendation was made … to issue a summary suspension of physician’s medical license based on imminent danger to the public, and simultaneously issue a notice of contemplated action based on, but not limited to, sexual contact with patients and conduct likely to harm.”

— Minutes of the March 17, 2016 meeting of the New Mexico Medical Board involving two doctors. The board’s meeting records don’t name physicians who are the subject of disciplinary matters.

Key fact

Disciplinary actions posted by the Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners and Medical Board only go back to 2011.

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