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Doctors In Trouble with the Medical Board

Today is my first day at my 3-day course which my lawyer recommended I take for my ongoing medical board investigation. There were 10 of us who attended today and I think the stories of these doctors in trouble are interesting and worth sharing so that we can learn from each other.

Medicine is the kind of field where you are penalized for admitting fault which means that you have to bury facts and that it’s taboo to discuss morbid issues with colleagues because it can be held against you in a legal proceeding.

 

1. Internal Medicine Doctor + 2 women

This doctor went into an exam room with a woman who was gowned and was complaining of shoulder pains. He did the exam on the shoulder but during the exam the woman brought up a secondary issue – breast pain.

He did the breast exam and sent her off for a diagnostic mammogram due to breast lump and thought that was the end of it. A few years later he received word from his medical group that this woman had filed a complaint because she felt that it wasn’t appropriate for him to examine her without a female chaperone.

He said that this particular day it was so busy that there was no way he could have found a chaperone.

During the investigation process another woman was found to have been examined by him without a chaperone. She was there for some other benign concern and brought up a last-minute issue – a boil on the left hip. For this the woman had to slightly lower her pants to show him this boil.

This woman happened to be there with a female family member. Neither thought the situation was odd and it wasn’t until the investigation revealed the lack of a chaperone being documented that they were both asked about the situation.

During the questioning the female patient and her female friend both thought that the situation was odd – only after the medical board investigators brought to their attention that this doctor was being investigated for a similar case previously.

He was let go from that job and now has a job in another medical practice at a much lower salary and still dealing with the medical board and the old medical group over this issue.

There was some publicity of this and a few of his friends in his community now know about it which has been tough on him and his family.

 

2. Physical Medicine & Rehab Doctor + Young Woman + Nodules

This guy does mostly sports medicine and went in to see a young woman in the exam room who had an elbow complaint. He examined her and asked about some lumps which he noted on the elbow and queried gouty tophi.

He asked if she had similar bumps on other joints. She said she noticed some on the hip and so he asked her to show him. She lowered her disposable paper scrubs enough to show him the area.

A year went by and she decided to report him to his medical group for the absence of a chaperone during her exam. This then is escalated to the medical board and he lost that job but was able to find another job quickly.

On the second job his Medical Director has him under the microscope and even when he hugged a patient goodbye he was “taken aside” and another time when he was talking to a female nurse and commented on her new hair color, he was once again pulled aside and told it’s not appropriate for him to do so.

His wife found out about this and remained by his side but it was very uncomfortable for a while.

He is still dealing with the matter and the medical board hasn’t reached a final verdict. His case was publicized as well and he’s dealing with the negative press.

 

3. Family Doctor + Sex at Work + Ugly Divorce

This doctor hooked up with a nurse at work while married. His wife found out and they tried to work the marriage out for the kids.

After the incidence his family life started going downhill and it was clear they were on the path of getting divorced. During their separation he met another woman and his wife found out and decided to report him to the medical board.

She made many accusations which have cost him nearly $200,000 in legal fees and though he has been able to keep his job and still do some inpatient medicine with his hospital affiliation, his name is ruined since the case was publicized.

The matter is still ongoing with the medical board and the legal matter is far from over since his wife is not dropping the accusations.

 

4. Private Dermatology Practice + Angry Wife + a Nurse

This guy was unhappily married but because of the kids he was trying to keep things together until his daughters were old enough to go on to college. But as the marriage was falling apart further he started cheating on his wife with a nurse at his dermatology practice.

His wife reported him to the medical board and the nurse at first didn’t have any issues with the matter and they continued happily dating.

Once they broke up she accused him of pressuring her to date him and the medical board is still working with him over various other accusations that are piling up of drug use and inappropriate behavior towards other staff – all these he claims are made up by his angry ex-wife.

His wife also reported him for prescribing medications to her without an exam on the behest of her divorce lawyer.

So far his legal fees are $500,000 and it’s not anywhere from being over though he has reached a decent settlement with his state’s medical board which might work out for all.

 

5. Private Practice Family Medicine Doctor + Anal Cancer Picture

This doctor has a very successful private practice where he sees mostly affluent patients but had started to see underserved patients the past few years.

One of his very first underserved patients was a younger woman who came to him for an anal lesion. He examined her with a chaperone and voiced his concern about it being cancer and referred her to a specialist.

The specialist contacted him and said that because of her Medicaid status and the massive backlog of patients the family doctor would have to try to do a biopsy himself to determine the severity to justify expediting the referral.

He called the patient back, brought her in again with a chaperone and tried a biopsy which was too hard to do since the tissue was so friable and the bleeding excessive. He offered the patient to have a picture taken and transmitted to the specialist so that they understand the gravity of the situation. Patient agreed and thanked him for his willingness to do so.

This woman’s boyfriend wasn’t okay with this situation and reported him to the medical board. It was determined by the medical board that he didn’t go through the proper steps to take such an image and even though it expedited her process she later changed her story and said that she felt extremely violated to have this picture taken.

He is still dealing with the medical board over this issue. He will have his license suspended but he is trying to delay it a few more months so that he can get to a place to be able to sell the practice and then step down.

His wife and him haven’t been the same since the situation but his kids are still standing by his side. He believes that this situation will soon bring his 20+ year marriage to an end.

 

6. Orthopedic Surgeon – Inappropriate O.R. Picture

An Orthopedic attending at a large university routinely takes medical images to share with his residents and students. He even takes pictures during the OR to share with patients later who appreciate it during the follow-up clinics.

A new scrub nurse was upset that the surgeon took a picture of a particular male patient in the OR and reported this to the hospital. The hospital investigated the matter and told him that it was wrong and that he needed to formally apologize to the patient, the staff in the OR, and his students to whom he showed the images.

He wrote letters to the patient apologizing for taking pictures of his pertinent surgical anatomy upon which the patient filed a lawsuit and police were involved to possess his electronic gadgets to look for any other signs of such behavior involving patients.

He is coming up for renewal for his privileges at his hospital and even though it was the hospital board which recommended that he contact the patient, now that the patient is suing it appears that he won’t have his contract renewed and it doesn’t look like he will be able to get a job anywhere else because of this matter.

 

7. Emergency Medicine Doctor + Salacious Joke

This doctor has been practicing medicine for 30 years and never once been in trouble for anything at work. This incident involved a tattoo on a drunk, passed out patient.

He had finished taking care of the patient and during his last full body survey he found this tattoo on the back of the neck of this male patient and with another nurse present he commented that it looked like a penis.

This nurse reported the comment to HR. HR told her that it was inappropriate on the doctor’s part and that they would talk to him, which they did.

She wasn’t satisfied with this and reported him to the medical board. Things went downhill from there because he handled the medical board himself and admitted to the joke being inappropriate but that his apology should suffice.

The matter is still ongoing with the medical board and it’s been a year and though his work hasn’t fired him, it isn’t looking good for his medical license.

 

8. Orthopedic Surgeon + Ex-Gone-Wrong

This doctor was married, then divorced, and a few months later started going out with one his nurses at the hospital. It was nothing serious at first but after a few months they started dating.

She was let go from that hospital due to competency issues and their relationship eventually fizzled and he broke it up.

She reported him to his hospital group first saying that he forced her to date him and when that didn’t go anywhere she reported him to the medical board.

Even though his hospital group agreed that it wasn’t appropriate for him to date his nurse and reprimanded him, they had already closed his file until the medical board got involved. Now his privileges at the hospital have been revoked.

He has been without a job for 6 months and no other hospital will take him and if the hospital will agree to take him the malpractice company won’t insure him.

 

10. Vascular Surgeon + Back Massages

This is the kindest man you’ll meet but he was sent here by his hospital group for multiple complaints by staff who reported him for spontaneously beginning to massage people’s shoulders/backs.

The first person to report him was a new charge OR nurse who witnessed the behavior on 2 different occasions.

Immediately upon reporting him he had 2 more complaints come in independently by 2 more staff members who wanted to remain anonymous. For these next 2 complaints he was taken off all work duties.

He involved his lawyer because he reported that it wasn’t a unidirectional massaging thing – multiple other staff and physicians would massage each other and he felt singled out.

Long story short, he now has a very ugly relationship with this hospital and has agreed to attend this boundaries course. Though his fate remains unclear, he was very upbeat about the situation.

 

Interesting Themes

  • everyone attended this particular course because they were urged to do so by their lawyer
  • most started out getting in trouble with their HR department and then it escalated to the medical group
  • all of the attendees were men
  • everyone admitted to doing something wrong but was blown away by the repercussions
  • a lot of angry faces in the room
  • some were completely demoralized
  • others were just angry, very angry
  • many felt betrayed by their medical boards which they thought would be fair to them
  • only 1 other person had an escape plan from medicine while everyone else was feeling the financial pinch
  • 1 instructor, 9 people, $3,500/person = nice

 

Big Picture

You might think that you’ll never end up in trouble with the medical board and I hope that you don’t. Should you get caught up with your HR department then there is a chance of it being escalated to your state’s medical board.

None of these doctors were in a financial situation to stop earning money from medicine despite several of them having had 3 decades of work under their belts.

We are physicians and will make mistakes and cross paths with the medical board. No matter how harshly we might judge a person for their particular actions, we do things ourselves which aren’t always legit. What matters is how we handle the situation.

During the first day of this course the instructor shared some interesting stories with us about other doctors in trouble with the medical board which were eye-opening and jaw dropping. It would be incredibly helpful if such information was made public but … this isn’t the nature of our profession.

Instead of fearing consequences it’s better to be well prepared and it’s best to have a backup plan because by the time you need the backup plan it’s too late to map one out.

2 replies on “Doctors In Trouble with the Medical Board”

Story #5 grinds my gears and is particularly egregious. The takeaway lesson for me here is to a) DO NOT ever admit fault or apologize as much as you’d like to do, b) HR is only looking out for the hospital / group, c) your name and reputation can easily be destroyed from the accusation / investigation alone.

On another note: Was the course ran by an attorney? Because if so, $3500 a pop to discuss these cases isn’t a bad side gig!

The takeaways here are eye-opening and I have learned a ton. HR is there to protect the medical group, no doubt. Medical board infantilizes patients and is there to protect the consumer and not the doctor.
Your name will always be destroyed, no way around that. Unfortunately that’s one of the end goals for the medical board or the HR because otherwise nobody can prove that what these entireties are doing is actually effective.
It is strongly tied to our punishment culture which is shockingly ineffective. Not a single doctor here is a bad person, they all made poor choices but I was expecting child molesters and thieves.

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