On September 5, 2013, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland (“Court of Special Appeals”), Maryland’s intermediate appellate court, upheld the revocation of a Maryland physician’s medical license by the Maryland Board of Physicians (“Board”) for the physician’s alleged provision of medications to two of his patients in exchange for sex over an extended period of time.
The physician had appealed the summary suspension of his medical license and the revocation of his medical license, alleging that the Board lacked authority to suspend him and to revoke his license at the same time and, even if it had the authority, that both decisions were arbitrary and capricious and not supported by substantial evidence. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed the revocation of the physician’s medical license and because the revocation left the physician with no license to suspend, it dismissed his appeal of the suspension proceeding as moot.
The Allegations Against the Maryland Physician
Patient A filed a complaint with the Board in February 2003, alleging that the physician sexually assaulted her beginning in 1974 when, at the age of fourteen, she began medical treatment with him for insulin-dependent diabetes. She alleged that the assaults continued through 2003. Patient A had a history of sexual abuse by her father and brother, along with a history of depression and behavior that one therapist characterized as “narcissistically self-absorbed, and extremely manipulative.” Over the almost thirty-year professional relationship, the physician gave Patient A samples of prescription medication (including medication to treat her diabetes and Zoloft to treat her depression) in exchange for sexual activity .
Patient B filed a complaint with the Board in May 2004 at the urging of a psychiatrist who was treating her at that time. Patient B alleged that she first sought treatment from the physician in May 1982, when she was in her early twenties. In 1988 or 1989, the physician allegedly sexually assaulted her while she was lying on the examination table and after an attending nurse left the room. The physician allegedly gave Patient B free prescription medication or money on a number of occasions in exchange for fellatio. Patient B also had a complex history that included incarcerations and crack cocaine abuse.
The Hearings Before The Board
The physician testified during the suspension hearing before the Board and admitted to a personal relationship with Patient A, including two sexual encounters. He testified that he treated Patient A in the 1975-1976 time period and did not provide any treatment for her after that time. However, he admitted writing on her behalf to Pfizer in January 2000 to support her request for free antidepressant medication, and he admitted that he described Patient A in his letter as someone he “followed in [his] practice for more than 20 years.” He testified that his representation to Pfizer was inaccurate, but was meant as “embellishment” designed to ensure that Patient A received the free medication. He contended that he did not believe he had any reason to “be concerned” about having a personal or sexual relationship with Patient A because in his view, she was not his patient.
When the physician was asked the following question during the suspension hearing, “And is it your testimony that after that physician/patient relationship was terminated, in your opinion, that there was no problem with having a personal or sexual relationship with her?” he responded,”Except as far as my marital status.”
The physician denied any sexual contact with Patient B.
The Board issued a final decision ordering the summary suspension of the physician’s medical license on December 13, 2010, which was affirmed on April 5, 2011 by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Board of Review.
The Board initiated a separate proceeding that sought to revoke the physician’s medical license altogether. There was a separate evidentiary hearing on October 25, 2010, at which time the parties agreed to incorporate all of the testimony and exhibits from the suspension hearing. The Board issued its revocation order on June 23, 2011 and directed that the prior suspension order be terminated as moot.
The physician challenged whether the Board had the authority to move simultaneously to suspend the physician’s medical license summarily and to revoke it. The Court of Special Appeals held that Maryland law (Health Occupations Article) authorized the Board to pursue both forms of discipline at the same time.
Source Donald C. Roane v. Maryland Board of Physicians, et al., Nos. 271 and 542.
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