By JACK WEATHERLY
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said his office is contemplating developing a statutory definition of “inappropriate sexual contact” between a physician and a patient.
If written and passed by the Legislature, that could solve the challenge of passing a bill that would criminalize sexual misconduct by physicians.
A bill has been introduced in the Legislature that would criminalize physicians having sex with patients.
Dr. John Hall, executive director of the Mississippi Board of Medical Licensure, said late in 2016 that he was working with lawmakers to draft such a bill.
However, the effort ran into resistance from some members of the board.
State Attorney General Jim Hood was invited by Board President Dr. Charles Miles to address the issue when the board’s executive committee met Jan. 11.
Hood did not speak of the matter in a brief appearance before the committee, talking instead about his office’s continuing efforts to curb opioid prescription abuse.
But he said in an interview afterward that developing statutory definitions of sexual misconduct might be preferable to adding to the criminal code.
Any such regulations adopted by the Medical Licensure Board could be a model for other boards in the state, Hood said.
“If they will put it in clear terms . . . that may suffice.”
But the Legislature may want to pass a law with a clear definition, Hood said.
House Bill 340, which was introduced on Jan. 5 would criminalize physicians having sex with patients.
“That’s probably why [state Rep.] Jeff Smith threw that out there, for us to begin the discussion.”
Miles said that if the Legislature passed HB 340, the board would be beholden to enforce it.
However, he said he feared the bill may be a simplistic solution to a complex problem.
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