If you live in Delaware or in the surrounding states chances are you’ve heard of former pediatrician Earl Bradley. Earl Bradley was indicted on 529 counts related to the molestation of 127 different children (some only months old). Bradley’s office in Lewes had been located directly off of Route One and was recognizable to all whom passed by. The lives of the patients of this man (the term used loosely here) have been forever changed, and now the legislative body in Delaware is also making changes.
It is reported that Beebe Medical Center (a Lewes hospital which often recommended Bradley with glowing reviews) heard allegations of Bradley’s molestation of his patients fourteen years (in 1996) and failed to report this to police during a 2005 investigation. Numerous lawsuits (many anonymous) have been filed against Bradley and Beebe in conjunction. In light of this Senate Bill 275, House Bill 456, and House Bill 457 have been passed.
Senate Bill 275 will require the Delaware Board of Medical Practice to “require doctors applying for licensure or re-licensure to present service letters from health care facilities… attesting to their good character”. Any substantiated incidents, including violence, threats of violence, abuse, or neglect would be required to be mentioned in this letter. This bill was sponsored by Senator Robert Marshall (D) and twelve others, both Democrats and Republicans.
House Bill 456 requires a physician or a physician’s assistant, while treating a person under the age of sixteen, “to have another adult in the room when that child is disrobed, partially disrobed, or otherwise undergoing certain physical examinations”. House Bill 457 will require that physicians acknowledge that they have reviewed their duty to report unprofessional conduct to the board, as well as training for police on how to properly handle the “detection, prosecution, and prevention of child sexual and physical abuse”.
One can only hope these bills will make a difference for future children, and one also wonders why these “common sense” laws were not already in place. A physician is given a position of trust, yet Bradley has shown us that times have changed. The question is, is this too little, too late?