As a Chicago personal injury lawyer, I am very concerned by the following Chicago Tribune story.
An inadvertent discovery by a Crestwood police officer of psychiatrist Joel Carroll's office led to the discovery of an office space in complete disarray including “roaming cats, a Colt AR-15 assault rifle and other guns, ammunition, military-grade smoke grenades, sex toys, and pornography.” (M. Twohey, Chicago Tribune, 2/24). Later, state regulators suspended his license declaring him a “danger to his patients” after determining that Carroll had “engaged in sexual misconduct and committed other violations of the state Medical Practice Act.”
However, Carroll's practice should have been shut down years earlier after a 2007 finding by the Illinois Department of Corrections that Carroll committed “inappropriate conduct with a female inmate and barred him from working in a prison.” Naturally, this raises questions about the viability of the reporting and disciplinary systems.
State agencies, county prosecutors, insurance companies, and health care employers and associations are “required to report potentially dangerous and unprofessional doctors to medical regulators, who can bar the doctors from practicing and keep patients out of harm's way.” However, the Tribune article reports that these mandatory reporters reported only 348 incidents in 2009, only one of which led to suspension of the Physician's license. This is an unacceptable level of disciplinary action, which allows dangerous doctors to continue practicing subject patients to further harm.
Not only is the disciplinary response problematic, so is the mandatory reporting. For example, “in the case of Carroll, the corrections department provided no notification that the psychiatrist had breached security during a visit to the inmate and allegedly made a sexual advance toward her, even though state agencies must report any potential violation of the Medical Practice Act.” Therefore, the regulators were unable to seek any disciplinary action. Sadly, Carroll's story only gets worse as more information is uncovered. In addition to making sexual advances towards a female inmate client, it has also been discovered that Carroll gave presigned prescriptions to a recovering drug addict, and he has admitted that he spend “numerous nights at the home of a patient who suffered from anxiety and panic disorder.” Although this is only the tip if the ice berg, it is immediately clear that Carroll; is dangerous to his patients and should not be allowed to practice medicine. The regulators and mandatory reporters must step up enforcement of the Medical Practice Act in order to keep patients safe.