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 Massachusetts 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.
  • Criminal acts: 40
    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 Massachusetts

Highlighted case

Dr. Russel Aubin

The anesthesiologist was accused of molesting patients in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

In the Massachusetts case, in 2000, a patient said that when Aubin gave her anesthesia during surgery on her wrist, he reached into the neck opening of her gown while a surgical drape concealed him, and massaged and squeezed her breasts, according to a Rhode Island medical board document. She said that Aubin leaned closer to her and whispered, “Don’t tell anybody because I can get in a lot of trouble.”

The patient said she didn’t immediately tell anyone because she felt afraid, but after her grandmother came to the hospital she told her what had happened, and also reported the incident to police and the hospital later the same day. But neither the hospital nor police took action, and no board order or other information became public.

Five years later, in Rhode Island, a 21-year-old patient accused Aubin of similar violations while she was undergoing knee surgery, saying he also told her not to say anything.

The patient from Massachusetts also testified, and the doctor's Rhode Island license was revoked.

Aubin fought the order and the case wound up in court.

The court in 2007 upheld revocation, finding Aubin had molested the Rhode Island patient. The Massachusetts board then revoked his license.

Rhode Island reinstated him in 2011, but his license is still shown as revoked on the Massachusetts board’s website.

Aubin was allowed to practice medicine in Guam as long as he was chaperoned when seeing female patients, according to news reports from 2008. He has not yet responded to a message the AJC left with the hospital in Guam seeking comment.

Researching a doctor

  • Accurate records of sexual abuse accusations against doctors are not always easily accessible. In Massachusetts, the Board of Registration in Medicine provides a search engine that may not contain details of disciplinary action; these can be obtained by submitting a public information request here (Fees apply). 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

Unlike most states, Massachusetts provides a number of rights to those who file complaints. The victim or a representative is entitled to attend all board meetings convened to make a decision on the case or review a proposed consent order. The victim or a representative is also entitled to have a counsel of his or her own choosing at the meetings. And when final consideration is given to discipline, the victim or a representative is given an opportunity to make a victim impact statement and to be heard on the recommended sanction. The board also said it always investigates anonymous complaints.

Where to file a complaint


“[T]he respondent told Patient A that he hoped their sexual encounter had not harmed her… As a result of the Respondent’s actions, Patient A felt exploited and used.”

—Statements of allegations against a psychiatrist accused of having sex with a patient he had treated for an eating disorder. The only disciplinary information about him on the board’s website is his voluntary surrender of his license in 2012, which doesn’t list a reason.

Key fact

Board orders often provide no details about allegations, even in cases where doctors’ licenses are revoked or surrendered. Massachusetts also purges from its website board orders for some egregious cases, the Boston Globe has reported. Using reciprocal orders from other states and other documents, the AJC identified 54 cases of sexual misconduct but only 11 through public orders posted on the state website.

  1. Click here to find your state!