ATLANTA (CBS46) -- CBS46 is uncovering multiple complaints against a Henry County OBGYN that otherwise would have remained shielded from the public.
Dr. John Patrick Schilling voluntarily surrendered his medical license earlier this month, after he was arrested on charges of unauthorized distribution of drugs. CBS46 reporter Melissa Stern obtained half a dozen complaints filed by former patients, some going back as far as ten years. They’ve accused him of sexual misconduct, malpractice, and fraud.
“I think there have been a number of patients who would have avoided injury if the board had acted earlier,” said attorney Susan Witt. In the more than two decades she’s been practicing law, she says she often wins cases against doctors long before the state medical board steps in. “Unfortunately, I see the board as being more reactive versus proactive,” Witt explained.
The Georgia Composite Medical Board investigates complaints filed by patients, and can take action against a doctor’s license if there is enough evidence against them. According to the board’s 2019 annual report, it was able to investigate or take action on 1,859 complaints last year. The Attorney General’s office says it resolved about 1,200 of those cases. 81 of them ended in public sanctions. That leaves thousands of cases without any resolution.
Vernessa Brooks, one of Dr. Schilling’s accusers, expressed her frustration with the process. “I reached out to the medical board, I cried for help in every area, it seemed like no one would listen,” she explained.
An anonymous source who used to work for the board said the board receives thousands of complaints each year, yet there is no organized system to keep track of them. Moreover, there are few resources to investigate the complaints. The source also said the process speeds up when the media comes knocking.
Because Dr. Schilling was allowed to voluntarily surrender his license, the complaints against him will not be released to the public. One of the complaints CBS46 obtained details allegations of malpractice, fraud, and gross negligence. The patient filed the complaint against Dr. Schilling in 2009, and said at the time, the investigator on her case said it was the best documented complaint she had ever received. Yet Dr. Schilling’s license was never suspended or revoked. If the victim had not shared the complaint with CBS46, the public might never know about it.
Witt said situations like this are the result of a broken system. “With the number of complaints that have been verified, and there is substantial evidence that would warrant having an immediate suspension of his license, which should have happened long ago,” Witt said.