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Physician’s undisclosed rape conviction steps up pressure for criminal background checks

Investigators with the Maryland Board of Physicians recently discovered an unpleasant fact about a  Maryland doctor accused of sexually assaulting two patients:  On his license application in 1996, he had failed to disclose a felony rape conviction in Florida. the criminal past of physician William Dando is likely to increase pressure on the medical board to tighten screening of applicants.
Dando practiced for two decades in Maryland before it was discovered that he had raped a woman at gunpoint. He was indicted on the new sexual assault charge in May, and his Maryland medical license is suspended while he awaits trial.
When Dando applied in 1996, he “stated that he had been incarcerated for assaulting someone’ while under the influence of alcohol,” according to the Maryland board’s summary suspension order. Applicants certify that the information on their applications is true, and the board reviews criminal convictions on a case-by-case basis.
Seven years ago, state lawmakers rejected a legislative auditor’s recommendation that criminal background checks be mandatory for medical licensure. Disclosure of criminal convictions remained voluntary. Now, however, both the medical board and key legislators are likely to re-introduce a bill requiring background checks. Maryland is one of 13 states that have not made such background checks mandatory.
“The pattern usually is something very egregious like this happens, and that’s what makes legislators take action,” said Lisa McGiffert, director of the Safe Patient Project at Consumers Union, an advocacy branch of Consumer Reports. “Most consumers would want to know if the physician they’re going to see had a felony conviction in their background.”
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