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February 23rd, 2010
10:04 AM ET

Before you send your child to the doctor

By Sabriya Rice, CNN Medical Producer

Prosecutors announced Monday that a grand jury has indicted Delaware pediatrician, Dr. Earl Bradley on 471 felony counts in the alleged sexual abuse of his patients. Bradley has practiced in Lewes, Delaware, for more than 10 years, and is now facing charges which include, rape, sexual exploitation, endangering child welfare and assault.

How could this happen? Most physicians don't get involved in criminal activities, however sometimes a bad apple can fall through. According to the Federation of State Medical Boards, approximately 200 hundred of the 735,000 actively licensed doctors in the United States have been found guilty of criminal acts.
In many cases they continue to practice; in some states a license can't be revoked until a witness has testified and the physician is found guilty of the charges. Patients have no way of knowing unless they do their own research.

Parents, here are some things you can do:

1) Find out if your pediatrician has a criminal past:
To find out whether your doctor has been disciplined by a state medical board, here's a state-by-state directory of medical boards.

2) Check your pediatrician's national profile:
Some states explain why a doctor has been disciplined while others don’t, so just searching in your state might not reveal a doctor's history of problems elsewhere. You can also get a national profile on your doctor for just under $10 by searching on the Federation of State Medical Boards website.

3) Get a good recommendation
You can view the American Academy of Pediatrics’ list of recommended pediatricians on their website.

Filed under: CNN Newsroom
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Paula

    I live in Viera Florida and when I take my son to the health dept dentist they close the door and tell parents they HAVE to wait outside. What does a parent do? I will never take him there again!!!!

    February 23, 2010 at 10:17 am |
  2. Todd

    As a 4th year medical student about to enter the medical profession, I was sickened like everyone else by what this doctor has done. Obviously this is a very terrible man, and the idea that other doctors could be doing something similar is very scary.

    But I do disagree with one point made multiple times by CNN, that parents have no reason to leave their children alone in the exam room. In fact, I have been taught many times that it is not only appropriate, but necessary to do so. If you suspect a child is unsafe at home, being abused, or just seems to be wanting to say something to you but not in their parents presence it is ethical and necessary to ask the parents to step out.

    February 23, 2010 at 10:18 am |
  3. Scott Stodden

    Totally shocking and jaw dropping, this man should be sent to prison for the rest of his life. We need people we can trust and believe in.

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,Illinois)

    February 23, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  4. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    An old fashion town beating would slow these sickos down .

    February 23, 2010 at 10:29 am |
  5. Wolfhound

    You've got to be mighty interested in finding out about your doctor, if you live in Pennsylvania. You can find out about disiplinary actions. But, if say your doc has been practicing for a number of years, you'll have to search through 12 monthly pdf's generated by all of the varoius boards and then by year. I know our peditrician has been practicing more than 10 years. To check her out I'd have to open 120 different data sets. There is no method to do a global search.

    February 23, 2010 at 11:05 am |
  6. Sandy~Las Vegas, NV

    I have always from the start been in the same room with my girl's whenever any doctor has checked them out. I am a Mother of 2 daughter's 26 & 29 to this day I'm still asked by my daughters (married have their own lives) to be in the same room with them while the doctor is examing them. I dont even care if he does'nt like it.. to bad on him.. I'm a Protector and I will do what it takes to make sure my girl's are out of harms way and feel safe. You have to understand its my girl's choice to have me their with them. Plus I will never have any doctor shut the door and ask me to wait outside Big No No!!!!!!!!

    February 23, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
  7. Shana Pittman

    I take offense to the statements of Kyra in "where were the parents?". There are many times in a medical situation that your children are away from your view. A teen getting xrays, for example. Or if you have 2 children being seen at the same clinic. Dentists often require that the parents wait in the wait area, as do Orthodontists. At no point should the parents feel responsible for this man's sickness! Perhaps his clinic staff should have noted the odd behavior of the doctor, the presence of needless video equipment, or the frequent separation of parent and children.

    This event has rocked our small town ( I live less than 30 minutes from his office). I guarantee the parents here are just as protective of their kids as anyone else, but predators are, by definition, excellent hunters. They know exactly how, and who they can manipulate. He worked the parents, he worked his staff, he worked the patients and he worked the system. All we can do now is seek justice and healing for the families affected, not blame the parents.

    February 23, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
  8. PAM

    My pediatrician did this to me from the age of 3 – 4 yrs old. This happened back in the 1958 when parents waited in the waiting room with the other siblings and there were not nurses in the office then. This dr would get me when he did house calls or at the office. He told me he would kill my brother and sister if I told, this was our secret. I never told but it did great damage to me. If I have to go to the dr. now and it is a male I have post traumatic stress and will cry and break down, etc. I try to only find females but just going to any dr. of any kind is traumatic even after all this time.

    February 23, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
  9. Liz Sela

    Unfortunately, the memory of having been molested by my family pediatrician, suddenly came to the surface while I was watching a movie about abused children. It happened 40 years ago. I was molested on several occasions by a pediatrician, who was a colleague of my father's, good friend and neighbor. Eventually, to my relief, we moved out of state. But I had screaming nightmares every evening for years after the abuse. My parents couldn't figure it out. At that time, pedophilia was not known about, recognized or discussed. I had classic symptoms. I had blocked the memories for years. He was considered "a really kind, gentle pediatrician," who was beloved by many parents. He had kids as well. He hid it well. He even would fondle me behind my parents' back. It was horrific. I had lots of problems, with huge issues in trust as a result of that. My mother, unaware of everything, would take me to the doctor's house to visit his wife, and I would shake and cry, unable to tell my story or express my fears. She kept saying but, honey, they're so nice. His wife seemed unaware of these horrendous acts. Nevertheless, it took years and years for me to remember these experiences and more years to come to terms with it. Thanks to films and media stories about abused children, we're aware of these sick behaviors and have learned ways of detecting, diagnosing and treating sexually abused youngsters. Parents need to heed their kids' fears and objections to being around certain adults. I only wish I could call this guy and confront him. But he is long gone. Thank God. Parents need to pay attention to children's nightmares, fearful cringing and other reactions to certain adults. I refused to leave my daughter alone with a doctor she was afraid of. She once told an adult (a good friend of mine) not to touch her. "I'm not a dog," she stated. "Don't touch me." She was only three-years' old. The friend was not doing anything wrong, but wanted to give her a hug. But my daughter didn't know her well enough and wasn't comfortable about being touched by a complete stranger.

    February 23, 2010 at 4:13 pm |
  10. Lisa

    I am disgusted by this story for a family pediatrican to take advantage of parents trusts and take advantage of young voiceless innocent children is an outrage not to mention how this will affect these children for the rest of there lives as a they get older. They are going to have problems with trust and be understandably confused by what happened. It's so sad that these people exist and that we have no choice but to educate our children on these possible situations to protect them. I do hope he is sentenced and there is justice for these children and their parents. I hope that this is a learning experience for those parents. Listen to your children don't ever question them when they tell you that someone has hurt them who else are they to turn to for protection then there parents. I obviously had my own experience as a child and can speak as a victim of a family friend. I have always taken my children only to female doctors although that may not even be 100% safe and never leave there side. The families of this sad situation are in my prayers I would seek counseling or professional help for your children and get closer to your religious congregation, personal friends and family or anyone that is worthy of your trust at this point.

    February 23, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
  11. L Preston

    No parent should leave a child with any care provider, the only time you would ever you loose sight of a child in the Medical care environment would be when they go through surgery doors with a whole team of professionals. You never forget those doors! Unlike previous generations, these parents in many case have never been around other babies, and do not have parents/grandparents to help them...

    February 23, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
  12. A. Smith, Oregon

    This is terrible, it must be extremely heartbreaking for the parents of all the children under this Dr's care. This reminds me of all of the Christian Priests and Clerics that were found in courts to had done the same to children.

    February 24, 2010 at 2:29 am |
  13. Valeria T

    Ok, clarify something for me please. I am not questioning the allegations here, I am simply trying to make sure I understand this situation properly. 1) A pediatrician is normally going to touch a child in certain areas, not out of anything deviant, but simply as part of a normal examination, to make sure there are no medical issues involving the genitalia etc. How then does one draw the line? 2) According to the story as it was read on CNN yesterday, this came out because a two year old child complained to his/her mother. "the doctor was inappropriate with me" was the words used in yesterday's story. I'm not sure I understand how a *two year old*
    can know what is appropriate and what is not. Children that young–as an earlier poster stated–can often be uncomfortable being touched by a non parent.

    February 24, 2010 at 9:24 am |
  14. John Babitskas

    WHERE WERE THE PARENTS ? When I was growing up, my Mom would never let me out of her sight when going to the Doctor. Something is not right here. John in Atlanta.

    February 24, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  15. Beka

    My children don't go into a room alone with anyone.... ever. I have had doctors tell me its ok. We will be right back, even just for an xray. I am right there with them every time. I am not blaming the parents. But we, the parents are the only ones looking out for our children. If we don't protect them from the monsters, even if they don't look like monsters, who will?

    February 24, 2010 at 5:47 pm |