DOH Revisiting Provider Sexual Misconduct Rules


In what appears to be a response to the matter of a nurse continuing to be allowed to treat patients after an arrest for child rape, the Department of Health has initiated new rule making regarding provider sexual misconduct.

The announcement describes the reasoning for the rule update.

The department is considering updating the sexual misconduct rule to establish clearer standards of conduct for health care providers. The department’s experience with investigating and enforcing the current rule has raised the need to clarify what acts constitute sexual misconduct by providers in health care professions under the Secretary of Health’s authority listed in RCW 18.130.040(2)(a). Updating the sexual misconduct rule will establish clearer standards of conduct and will help the department be consistent in its enforcement activities to more fully comply with RCW 18.130.062 and Executive Order 06-03.

The current Sexual Misconduct rules (WAC 246-16-100) are applicable to only to a provider’s engagement with patients.

Sexual misconduct engaged outside of the care setting is not addressed.  There are other WACs in the chapter, however, which give the disciplinary board authority to investigate or take action based on criminal convictions.

In the case mentioned above, Quincy Valley Medical Center allowed a nurse arrested for Rape of a Child – First Degree to continue to see patients, including children, for a period of three and a half months before the DoH suspended the provider’s license.