Independent review finds missed opportunities

Criticizes hospital for not acting on info

The investigative report of Earl Bradley, MD, by Linda Ammons, JD, associate provost and dean of the Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, DE, cites many instances in which his sexual abuse of children could have been stopped. It also alleges that Beebe Medical Center in Lewes, DE, failed to act properly when Bradley's behavior was questioned.

Ammons' report cites these missed opportunities:

• The first known complaint against Bradley in Delaware occurred in 1996, when Joan Davis, a nurse who worked with Bradley at Beebe, complained to her supervisor about what she thought were too many catheterizations of female patients for urine samples by Bradley in his annexed office next to the hospital. Davis's allegations regarding Bradley also included allegations of excessive kissing of patients, inappropriate remarks about females, and that Bradley was taking pictures of patients without their parents' consent or knowledge and putting them on his computer. The hospital did conduct an internal investigation. After consulting with three independent doctors, it deemed that the catheterizations were medically appropriate and closed the investigation.

• Relying on Delaware's peer review statute, the procedures of their accreditation standards, federal statutes, and the fact that other experts in the field had cleared Bradley's actions as accepted medical practice, Beebe did not report Davis' allegations to law enforcement or the Board of Medical Practice. It does not appear that Beebe's internal investigation addressed Davis' other allegations.

• In 2005, William J. Wenner, MD, vice president of the medical staff at the hospital, had several discussions and written communications with Bradley concerning a possible law enforcement investigation of him. On Sept. 19, 2005, Wenner noted that he met with the CEO of the hospital, who informed Wenner about the allegations raised eight years previously concerning Bradley. According to Wenner's notes, the CEO was also aware of a rumor of inappropriate behavior in Pennsylvania but believed it to be without substance. After the hospital was subpoenaed, Wenner informed Bradley that all patient contacts by hand must be in the presence of another witness. On Oct. 5, 2005, Wenner learned that the Milford Police Department investigation was closed and notified Bradley that chaperoning was no longer necessary.

• Beebe administrators did not notify the police department during the 2005 investigation that it had conducted its own investigation of Bradley in 1996.

Ammons concluded that "it is reasonable to conclude that if the Davis allegations were made known to law enforcement in 2005, it could have altered prosecutorial decisions such as whether to arrest, indict, or even seek a search warrant. Instead, it does not appear that the records of Beebe's investigation in 1996 were ever given to law enforcement until after Dr. Bradley was arrested, even after Bradley's records were subpoenaed by the Attorney General's Office in 2005."

For a summary of the Ammons report, go to http://tinyurl.com/bw5x2ow. For the entire report, go to http://tinyurl.com/bo4679d.