A new Illinois law that toughens the reporting requirements when medical residents wash out of programs was passed partly as a response to the case of Dr. Anthony Garcia, who is accused of killing four people in Omaha.
Garcia maintained a medical license in Illinois over much of the past decade, even though he was dismissed from three residency programs and resigned under pressure from another.
Illinois medical residency officials will soon be required to alert the state's disciplinary board when a resident doesn't successfully complete training. The reporting system will allow the board to request more information about a student's early departure.
The change will take effect Monday.
Garcia held an Illinois medical license since 2003 despite being disciplined by supervisors and fired from residencies, including a pathology residency at Creighton University.
Garcia obtained the medical license while he was a University of Illinois at Chicago resident. His UIC contract wasn't renewed in 2004 after he took several extended absences and didn't contact his supervisors. College officials didn't report disciplinary action against Garcia to the state's licensing agency.
The Illinois licensing department also didn't know that Garcia had trouble at previous residency programs because the hospitals hadn't reported it, and Garcia did not disclose it on his licensing application, said Susan Hofer, spokeswoman for the state's licensing agency.
Despite concerns about Garcia's competency, he was allowed to practice medicine in Illinois until he was arrested five months ago. The state suspended his medical license in July.
“Having a law like this in place would have been of immense help in Dr. Garcia's case,” Hofer said.
Garcia wasn't the only reason for the policy change, Hofer said. The agency has wanted to clarify how clinical programs should notify the state when a resident leaves a training program early, she said.
“This is something we have wanted to do for a long time,” she said. “We are relieved we have the legislation enacted into law. I hope it makes it easier for us to keep track of residents.”
Nebraska prosecutors say Garcia blamed the physicians who fired him from Creighton's pathology residency program — Drs. William Hunter and Roger Brumback — for his lack of professional success.
Garcia was booted from the Creighton residency program in 2001 after he exhibited what was viewed as rude, erratic and insubordinate behavior.
He has been charged in the March 2008 killings of Hunter's son, Thomas, 11, and their house cleaner, Shirlee Sherman, 57.
Garcia is also charged with the May 14 killings of Roger and Mary Brumback.
Douglas County prosecutors say the four killings were Garcia's attempt at payback against the Creighton doctors.
Garcia, who denies the allegations, will have a preliminary hearing in Douglas County District Court in January.
Garcia faced many troubles in the workplace when he arrived in Chicago in 2001. In several letters, a UIC supervisor noted Garcia's unprofessional behavior and questioned whether Garcia had the ability to render patient care.
Garcia said on future license applications that he left UIC due to poor health, depression and migraines.
After Chicago, Garcia spent a few years living in his hometown of Walnut, Calif., while he searched for a new residency. He landed one in Shreveport, La., in 2007 but was later fired because the state realized Garcia hadn't disclosed firings from previous residencies.
Garcia moved back to Chicago and worked as a physician until 2012. He then moved to Terre Haute, Ind., where he bought a home and worked for a prison as a medical contractor. Indiana denied him a medical license in 2009 and 2012.
In 2012, Brumback sent the Indiana licensing board a letter stating that Garcia had been dismissed from Creighton for “unprofessional behavior toward a fellow resident.”
Earlier this month, Garcia filed a federal lawsuit against a county court judge and Nebraska police officers who testified against him.
In the lawsuit, he said the judge was negligent, and he accused police officers of committing perjury.