North Carolina

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

62

State rating (out of 100)

  • Board composition: 75
    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.

More from North Carolina

Highlighted case

Dr. Epifanio Rivera-Ortiz

After a patient went to police alleging the doctor had touched her in an inappropriate manner during a 2009 exam, Rivera-Ortiz pleaded guilty and surrendered his license.

Another patient had made a similar complaint seven years earlier, saying Rivera-Ortiz had digitally penetrated her and exposed himself during an appointment. But police didn’t pursue that case, and the board only “encouraged” him to use a chaperone.

That patient sued the doctor, who admitted in a deposition that his genitals were exposed during the patient’s exam; he claimed the patient initiated sexual contact.

The civil jury believed the victim’s account and found the doctor negligent in that case.

Rivera-Ortiz 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 North Carolina, the best chance of finding problems is to search the disciplinary records offered by the North Carolina 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 board said that complaints may be anonymous under certain circumstances.

Where to file a complaint

Quoted

“Because of the control exercised by the Medical Society, the Medical Board has repeatedly failed to fulfill its duty to identify, investigate and prosecute physicians who endanger North Carolina patients.”

— Allegation in a 2007 lawsuit brought by a physician and three patients claiming that the North Carolina Medical Society wielded too much influence in the selection of physicians to the state board. They dropped the suit after a new state law was enacted to change the selection process.

Key fact

The AJC found that the North Carolina Medical Board issues private letters of concern to some doctors accused of sexual misconduct with patients.

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