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California doctor loses license over affair with patient

Do not get romantically involved with your patients. That's the unmistakable message being sent by California's Medical Board to the doctors it licenses. On Feb. 8, 2018, it revoked the license of a doctor who has been in practice in the state since 2000. The obstetrician-gynecologist violated the law by engaging in a sexual relationship with a former patient who happened to be a nurse.

According to the complaint filed by the state's attorney general, the doctor saw the woman during the time she went through three pregnancies. She was last treated by him in 2012. Like the doctor, she worked for Kaiser Permanente.

Their affair began in 2013 and ended in 2014 during a medical conference out of town. Both the doctor and the nurse were married to other people.

They regularly met for sexual liaisons during the time of the affair at the doctor's office -- even though he was on duty. They also met at the clinic during the doctor's night shifts.

Toward the end of the relationship, the woman became pregnant and the doctor prescribed Misoprostol, which can cause a miscarriage. He also backdated the prescription to hide the affair in case anyone was paying attention.

The relationship soon fell apart, and the woman reported her relationship with the doctor. The criminal case by the attorney general accuses the doctor of gross negligence, incompetence, unprofessional conduct, sexual exploitation and sexual misconduct.

Physicians occupy an elevated position in our society. They also often occupy an exalted position with their patients and former patients -- one that they can often manipulate if they desire. The imbalance of power and trust puts doctors in a position of control over those they've treated. They must not abuse it.

If you want to maintain your professional medical license, it's important to keep in mind the high ethical standards the profession demands -- before you sacrifice your future.

Source: The Press Democrat, "Santa Rosa Kaiser OB-GYN loses license for relationship with nurse who was patient," Martin Espinoza, Feb. 21, 2018

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