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


State rating (out of 100)

  • Board composition: 73
    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?: 45 of 50
      The medical board is composed of 10 physicians, eight public members and one physician assistant. The osteopathic board is composed of seven physicians, three public members 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.
    • Has the state criminalized sexual misconduct involving doctors and patients?: 32 of 40
      Therapists can be charged with criminal sexual conduct by engaging in sexual activities with patients and former patients within two years of treatment. Also, it is a crime for a doctor to engage in the medical treatment or examination of a patient in a manner or for purposes that are medically recognized as unethical or unacceptable and sexual penetration occurs.

More from Michigan

Highlighted case

Dr. Richard D. Ferguson

In 2014, Ferguson pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct, intent to commit sexual penetration, for sexually assaulting a patient. He was sentenced to a minimum of 38 months in prison.

According to a news report, the victim had been sexually abused in her youth, and the doctor would repeatedly sexually assault her “to make her comfortable with her sexuality.”

The state Board of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery revoked Ferguson’s license in July 2015.

The AJC was unable to reach Ferguson for comment.

Researching a doctor

  • Accurate records of sexual abuse accusations against doctors are not always easily accessible. In Michigan, the Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery regulate medical professionals. Actions issued by both boards can be found on the Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) website. 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

All complaints must be in writing and be signed. While the state website said that the person filing the complaint will be notified if the investigation fails to substantiate the allegation, if a doctor is disciplined, there is no notification. Instead, the person filing the complaint is told to look on the website or write and ask.

Where to file a complaint


“The entire time she was shaking and had tears running down her face, crying. You could see the embarrassment built up inside her, the shame, and the humility of having to deal with this situation and keep it hidden from people.”

— A police officer in Kalamazoo, reporting on his interview of a victim of a doctor who was accused of sexual misconduct with patients. The medical board put him on probation for a minimum of one day and a maximum of one year, saying evidence suggested his intent was innocent.

Key fact

Up until 2014, the chair of the Michigan Board of Medicine had the authority to unilaterally end investigations of doctors. Rules now require that at least three board members agree to stop an investigation. Also, while the state board says that all its orders are public, many are vague and don’t detail the allegations.

  1. Click here to find your state!