We’ve all heard the term, “closing the barn door after the horse has bolted.” Basically, it means that somebody is taking a step after it is too late to produce the desired results.
Some people have argued that the steps taken by the Delaware state lawmakers following the infamous scandal surrounding Dr. Earl Bradley is too little, too late — that these laws should have been in place before Bradley allegedly molested more than 100 children at his Lewes office.
Agreed. There are no laws that anybody can pass right now that can take us back in time to stop those heinous allegations, or to help the families deal with the aftermath of what did or did not happen in his pediatric office.
But what are lawmakers supposed to do? Sit on their hands and do nothing? Wag their fingers at the television cameras and fill the airwaves with rhetoric? Well, they can start by taking steps to try to make sure this kind of thing does not happen again.
And that is what they’re doing now.
A package of new laws aimed at prevening doctors and caregivers in the future from molesting children passed during last year’s session, and new bills were presented earlier this week to take it a step further.
Rep. Rebecca Walker is sponsoring House Bill 45, which would prohibit anyone convicted of a felony sexual offense from receiving a license to practice registered nursing. It would also permanetly revoke the license of any nurse convicted of a felony sexual offense. Licensed medical professionals who fail to report child abuse or neglect would also face discipline.
Rep. Michael Barbieri is sponsoring House Bills 52 and 53, which would carry the same penalties as HB 45, but for mental health, clinical social workers or chemical dependency professionals. Sen. Patricia Blevins is sponsoring similar legislation in senate, Senate Bills 31, 32 and 33. They would respectively cover dentists, psychologists and physician assistants.
“These are common sense restrictions for people who come in close contact with us and are in a position to take advantage of people when they are most vulnerable,” said Blevins. “These license restrictions should build on our efforts to protect the public from abuse and increase the public’s confidence in their health care providers.”
We agree. State legislators have largely left the discipline and monitoring of medical professionals to their respective medical associations, but that can no longer be the case after the Bradley allegations. Better now than never.