Submitted by CCASA Director of Policy Raana Simmons to CO Senate Judiciary Committee on February 5, 2020:
Good afternoon Mr. Chair and Members of the Committee. My name is Raana Simmons and I am the Director of Policy for the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault. I am here today representing the Coalition in strong support of SB 20-102.
First, I’d like to thank our bill sponsors for carrying this important piece of legislation forward. In 2018 while the Larry Nassar trial was making headlines, the CCASA office received multiple contacts from survivors of medical sexual abuse – many of whom were seeking support after identifying for the first time, that what had been done to them under the guise of medical treatment was actually sexual assault.
In looking into the issue further, scholarly articles consistently show that recidivism rates are high among medical providers who commit sexual misconduct. Most studies show anywhere between 33% and 80% of physicians who sexually abuse have more than one victim, with results from a 2017 study that found 57% of physician-related cases of sexual misconduct involved 5 or more victims.
We believe SB 20-102 protects patient safety and has the potential to prevent multiple incidences of medical sexual abuse by establishing a new accountability process wherein medical providers who are required to report disciplinary actions to the Healthcare Professions Profile Program (HPPP) – the public database created through the Michael Skolnik Medical Transparency Act of 2007 – must also proactively notify their patients of any disciplinary action related to sexual misconduct. In speaking with Patty Skolnik, the mother of Michael Skolnik for whom the Act was named, she explained to me that accurate records about medical providers backgrounds were not easily accessible to health care consumers prior to 2007 and that the HPPP database was created, specifically, to provide Coloradans with all the information they need to make safe choices about how they and their families receive quality health care. The problem, however, is that most Coloradans do not know that this database exists and those that do, find it extremely difficult to search.
It is our belief that SB 20-102 brings to fruition the original intent of the Michael Skolnik Medical Transparency Act, by shifting the burden from patients to sexually abusive medical providers through removing the obstacle of seeking out hard-to-find information and instead, places the responsibility on the disciplined provider to proactively alert patients of their behavior and terms of discipline after a conviction or credible finding of responsibility related to sexual misconduct.
For these reasons CCASA support SB 20-102 and urges a “yes” vote from the committee. Thank you for your time this afternoon, I am available to answer any questions the committee may have.