In our previous post reviewing the Georgia Composite Medical Board’s (“Medical Board” or “GCMB”) June Monthly Meeting Minutes, we touched on the Medical Board’s acknowledgment of House Bill 458. Herein, our healthcare and business law firm analyzes more thoroughly the new law and its impact on Georgia physicians and the Medical Board. If you have licensing or other GCMB questions or would like to discuss this blog post, you may contact our healthcare and business law firm at (404) 685-1662 (Atlanta) or (706) 722-7886 (Augusta), or by email, email@example.com. You may also learn more about our law firm by visiting www.hamillittle.com.
HB 458 amends Title 43 of the Official Code of Georgia in varied ways to accomplish the following goals:
- to provide for requirements for certain medical professionals relating to professional boundaries and misconduct; . . .
- to require certain training relating to sexual misconduct for members of the Georgia Composite Medical Board;
- to provide for the refusal, suspension, or revocation of the license of a physician who has committed a sexual assault on a patient;
- to require the completion of continuing education by physicians relating to sexual misconduct;
- to require the development and identification of educational resources and materials relating to sexual misconduct and the impacts of trauma for physicians, board members, and board staff;
- to require medical schools and osteopathic medical schools to provide training to medical students on sexual misconduct;
- to provide for mandatory reporting by health care providers who have actual knowledge that a physician has committed a sexual assault on a patient; to provide for limited liability;
- to provide for fines and disciplinary action;
- to provide for release of investigative records by law enforcement;
- to provide for annual reporting to the General Assembly of the number of physicians investigated or disciplined for the sexual assault of patients . . . .
Medical Board Training Requirement
To accomplish those goals, the legislation adds a requirement in O.C.G.A. § 43-34-2 requiring the Medical Board members “to participate in training and education to support greater understanding of sexual misconduct, sexual boundaries, and impacts of trauma and implicit bias.” This Medical Board requirement is effective on January 1, 2022.
Medical Board Authority
The legislation also allows the Medical Board to refuse a license or issue discipline to an individual who has “pleaded guilty to committing a sexual assault on a patient” or “been found guilty by a court of law of committing a sexual assault on a patient.” The changes also allow the Medical Board to issue a summary suspension pending proceedings when the Board finds that “the public health, safety, or welfare imperatively requires emergency action pursuant to an alleged sexual assault on a patient by a licensee.”
Physician Training Requirement
Physicians need also be aware of the new training requirement in O.C.G.A. § 43-34-11 that goes into effect on January 1, 2022. Within the new section, “all physicians shall be required to receive one-time education and training, for a minimum of two hours, regarding professional boundaries and sexual misconduct.” The legislation provides details for what the training must cover, including that is must include training regarding “sensitive or intimate examinations and the communication with patients that is required as a component of such examinations.” The Medical Board is responsible for establishing this education and training. In addition, in O.C.G.A. § 43-34-14, the Board is required by January 1, 2022 to “develop and identify educational resources and materials for physicians, board members, and board staff to support greater understanding of sexual misconduct, sexual boundaries, and impacts of trauma and implicit bias.”
Mandatory Reporting Requirement & Penalties
A final important change from HB 458 is the mandatory reporting provision. The bill modifies O.C.G.A. § 43-34-47 to include the following: “A health care provider in this state shall report the name of a physician to the board if such health care provider has actional knowledge that such physician has committed sexual assault on a patient.” If a health care provider fails to report in good faith, the provider will not be subject to any liability or discipline. If, however, the provider “knowingly and willfully” fails to report, the provider “shall be subject to a fine of no less than $1,000.00 or greater than $5,000.00 as determined by such health care provider’s respective licensing board and may be subject to other disciplinary action in such respective licensing board’s discretion.”
If you have questions about the impact of HB 458, licensing questions, or would like to discuss this blog post, you may contact our healthcare and business law firm at (404) 685-1662 (Atlanta) or (706) 722-7886 (Augusta), or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also learn more about our law firm by visiting www.hamillittle.com.
*Disclaimer: Thoughts shared here do not constitute legal advice.