Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

Medical Justice

Making healthcare safe for doctors


Legal

Iowa Board of Medicine Makes Love an Actionable Offense.

02/13/18 11:07 AM

Perhaps the headline should read “Iowa Board of Medicine Makes Making Love an Actionable Offense.” Boards of Medicine generally take action if a physician inappropriately propositions a patient for sex. Some boundary issues are obvious. If a psychiatrist is in the middle of an active treatment plan with a patient, it is unlikely a sexual relationship between the two will pass muster. On the other hand, if a primary care doctor in the only physician serving a remote rural community and he sutures a small laceration on a patient, is that patient foreclosed from ever being a romantic interest. These two examples should not have the same outcome.  

I understand the rationale behind prohibiting doctors from actively engaging in a sexual relationship with current patients. The argument goes that the patient cannot make an informed decision about proceeding because of the complexities inherent to a doctor-patient relationship. And only when the doctor-patient relationship is formally terminated does the patient in most, but not all, circumstances regain their faculties about such matters. 

I think such a dogmatic approach sells many patients short. It also reeks of excessive paternalism.  

Hence my disappointment at the following Board action. 

The Iowa Board of Medicine disciplined Dr. Joseph Darrow, a physician who practiced orthopaedic surgery in Iowa and now practices medicine in Missouri.  

In the Board’s own words.

Sexual Misconduct: The Board alleges that Respondent engaged in sexual misconduct in violation of the laws and rules governing the practice of medicine in Iowa when he engaged in a sexual relationship with a female patient concurrent with, or immediately following, the physician-patient relationship, in Fort Madison, Iowa, in 2014. Respondent subsequently married the female patient. 

So, we have a patient who presumably had orthopaedic surgery. The doctor and patient fell in love. They married. There is no evidence to suggest the patient had buyer’s remorse or they were anything other than happily married. Not wanting to fight the matter, Dr. Darrow, aged 68, signed off on a consent agreement with the Board. 

CITATION AND WARNING: Respondent 1s hereby CITED for engaging in sexual misconduct in violation of the laws and rules governing the practice of medicine in Iowa. Respondent is hereby WARNED that engaging in such conduct in the future may result in further disciplinary action against his Iowa medical license. 

CIVIL PENALTY: Respondent shall pay a $5,000 civil penalty within twenty (20) days of the date of this order. The civil penalty shall be made payable to the Treasurer of Iowa, and mailed to the executive director of the Board. The civil penalty shall be deposited in the State General Fund. 

NEUROSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING: Respondent shall complete neuropsychological testing under the direction of a Board-approved neuropsychologist as recommended by the Professional Renewal Center within 30 days of this order. Respondent shall ensure that a report is forwarded to the Board directly from the neuropsychologist. Respondent is responsible for all costs associated with the neuropsychological testing. 

PROFESSIONAL BOUNDARIES PROGRAM: Respondent shall successfully complete a Board-approved treatment program for professional boundaries. 

WORKSITE MONITOR: Respondent shall establish a worksite monitor with the Board under the following terms and conditions:… The worksite monitor shall agree to inform the Board immediately if there is evidence of sexual misconduct, unprofessional conduct or a violation of the terms of this Order…. Respondent shall ensure that the worksite monitor submits quarterly reports to the Board not later than 1/20, 4/20, 7 /20 and 10/20 of each year of this Order.

I’m guessing the doctor, aged 68, did not want to expend a lot of energy fighting this. He’s a newlywed and had other priorities. But, this penalty seems heavy handed. 

What do you think? Use the comment box below to share your thoughts.


Feeling the pressure? Learn how we can protect you…

We know your time is valuable. Spend a few minutes with us and discover how membership protects what’s important to good medical practice – and does away with what’s detrimental…

Posted by Medical Justice | in Legal | 13 Comments »

13
Leave a Reply

avatar
13 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
13 Comment authors
David Kloth, MDCarla H Schlissel, DDSscott kasden, MDdonn chatham mdmichael valdes Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Scott Nelson, D.O.
Guest
Scott Nelson, D.O.

It’s BS. But it’s standard boilerplate BS, no thought required. The worst case scenario of the managerial revolution realized. There was a time when some reference to the validity of a complaint vis a vis the public welfare and/or medical competence was considered obligatory. But no more. It’s worse in California. A misdemeanor offense triggers action by the Attorney General who then dictates to the Board what it must do, and it’s always all of the abovementioned sanctions plus whatever else can be envisioned. There is no discussion, only the blackmail that if discussion is sought the consequences will be… Read more »

Stacy J. Childs, M.D.
Guest
Stacy J. Childs, M.D.

I understand a person of authority not preying on the vulnerable, but when you fall in love and get married, it is no damn board’s business, and should they go to the depths of punishment that Iowa did, the doctor should sue their asses off. Who are these jerks so we can email them or post their names on Facebook?

Michael M Rosenblatt, DPM
Guest
Michael M Rosenblatt, DPM

This physician is likely ready to retire. If it were me I would simply tell the Medical Board to take their judgement and put it where the sun doesn’t shine.

Michael M Rosenblatt, DPM

SP
Guest
SP

How about “worksite monitors” for our elected representatives and for these idiots on the Board i? Someone to make sure that the politicians, the board members, etc, remember their duties to represent the people who pay their salary?
I would be very interested in their reports!

Jack Brunner MD
Guest
Jack Brunner MD

It is “Virtue Signaling “ on the boards part. Given the Dr Nasser situation in Michigan the “Boards” will feel forced to have a no tolerance policy.

Laura Figura,MD
Guest
Laura Figura,MD

This is a poor decision by the board. It lacks common sense. Who was harmed? Seems like a power trip to me.

Joe Horton
Guest
Joe Horton

Sounds like the board consists of social workers. Who feel the need to justify having the job.

Delta sierra….

David Mobley
Guest
David Mobley

But for the verious boards of medicine, we physicians would certainly run amok, or at least that’s how we are treated. I tire of this constant assumption I am on the edge of criminality. As so often occurs, a board of medicine seems to do a great job of controlling someone who is not trying to break the rules in the first place. Meanwhile, the really bad actors skirt the rules or endlessly litigate. Unfortunately, the physician members of these boards are some of the worst offenders with their punative and self-rightous decisons. Just like the rebellion against we unfair… Read more »

michael valdes
Guest
michael valdes

This sounds nuts. How and why did their relationship even come to the attention of the Board? There must be more to the story.

donn chatham md
Guest

Maybe now that they are married, the Iowa board won’t approve of her remaining his patient.

Except now they are in MO. 🙂

scott kasden, MD
Guest
scott kasden, MD

This is a totally rediculous outcome.

Who reported this anyway? The doctor himself didn’t tell the board? Perhaps a jealous office staff member?
What harm occurred? At 68, this doctor is a sexual predator?

In my humble opinion, the Board should have had him in for a hearing, talked to the wife, and then bury the whole thing.you are guilty as charged until you prove you are innocent, and then, accept your punishment.

sek

My experience is that if you go before a Medical Board,

Carla H Schlissel, DDS
Guest
Carla H Schlissel, DDS

Is this symptomatic of middle-of-the-country boredom? The Iowa Board has nothing better to do? For Pete’s sake. Did the physician call the Board and say, “Look, I fell in love with a patient and married her. I have no aggravation in my life. Help remedy this problem.”? His newlywed wife (I’m assuming he didn’t force her to marry him) wouldn’t have turned him in. Even if a jealous staff member or disgruntled patient did turn him in to the Board, don’t they have a responsibility to investigate a claim first – be sure it’s not baseless? It is said that… Read more »

David Kloth, MD
Guest

No action was required other than sending the happily married newlyweds a congratulations card. Today when the state comes after you, you must prove your innocence, guilt is assumed. And even then, when all the facts show you have acted reasonably, they don’t care because they need to collect money and justify their existence. In my opinion this is complete abuse of authority, just people creating a job for themselves.