Rhode Island

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


State rating (out of 100)

  • Board composition: 85
    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 Rhode Island

Highlighted case

Dr. Taranath Shetty

Nineteen women and girls accused Shetty of sexual assault, according to a news report, but the pediatric neurologist was convicted of only three misdemeanors and acquitted of 15 felony charges. He received a two-year suspended sentence.

In one case it was alleged that Shetty had sexually abused a patient for 10 years, beginning when she was 13. She committed suicide in 1999, at age 23. He was not charged in that case because the statute of limitations had expired.

As police were investigating that case, they found more patients who said they had been molested. The misdemeanor convictions involved two former patients who testified Shetty had inappropriately touched their breasts.

During the trial, the judge shielded jurors from hearing testimony that Shetty had allegedly sexually assaulted two former patients he had taken to his home, according to a news report.

Shetty, who also was licensed in Massachusetts, had his Rhode Island license suspended in 2000.

Shetty 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 Rhode Island, the best chance of finding problems is to search the disciplinary actions posted by the Rhode Island Department of Health. 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

Anyone filing a complaint must sign a statement verifying that the information is true and accurate and that the complaint is filed in good faith. Once a complaint is filed, the doctor is provided with an unedited copy in most cases.

Where to file a complaint


“We have an entire community of professionals who have gone through a decade and a half of education and training," and yet they "are really being treated with a heavy hand by the [board] and almost – this word is not mine – a sort of ‘witch hunt.'”

— Rhode Island state Rep. Michael Chippendale, who called for creation of a commission to study doctor discipline, as quoted in the Providence Journal.

Key fact

After doctors complained that the state board is too zealous, a special state House commission was created in 2015 to study its practices. A report released this year recommends, among other things: limiting the board’s subpoena powers; placing deadlines on complaint proceedings; taking license revocation off the table in negotiations with doctors; and ensuring that doctors are reviewed by at least one peer within their specialty.

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