The West Virginia House of Delegates passed House Bill 2103, sponsored by House Government Organization Chair Gary Howell (R-Mineral), nearly unanimously this week which would require all Chapter 30 boards to post on a website the record of disposition of complaints received on licensees. If a specific board does not have a website, the information would be posted on the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s website.
“As a matter of public policy, this information needs to be posted and available so that any person who is seeking the assistance from any of these various boards can readily and easily access it,” said Chairman Howell.
The bill also states that first-time applicants for a professional license for physicians, physician assistants, dentists, pharmacists, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, optometrists, veterinarians, osteopathic physicians, and psychologists must complete a criminal background check. The bill has been referred to the Senate Government Organization Committee.
A companion bill, House Bill 2205, also sponsored by Chairman Howell, would seek to create the crime of prohibited sexual contact by a psychotherapist. Currently, there is no existing criminal provision prohibiting sexual contact or sexual intercourse between a psychotherapist and his or her client/patient.
It would create two new felony crimes prohibiting psychotherapist from engaging in “sexual contact” with a patient or client, or a former patient or client.
“It is unnerving that a relatively small minority of therapists take advantage of their client's trust and vulnerability when they are at there lowest points and exploit their role and power at that moment for sexual gain,” said Chairman Howell. “One of the major tenets of the Hippocratic Oath taken by those in the medical field is to ‘do no harm’ and clearly, I would hope that all would adhere to that promise.”
House Bill 2205 is currently in the House Finance Committee.