MA: Dr. has sexual relationship with patient: court affirms revocation of Dr.'s license.
CASE FACTS: Dr. Robert Weinberg, a staff physician at Boston
Evening Medical Center from February 1989 until February 1997, had been
licensed to practice medicine in Massachusetts since September of 1988.
In July 1989, a female patient went to the Center. Dr. Weinberg was
randomly assigned to be the patient's primary care physician. Over
the course of 61 appointments with Dr. Weinberg between July 12, 1989,
and June 30, 1992, the patient disclosed a history of childhood sexual
abuse. In July 1992, Dr. Weinberg committed the patient to a psychiatric
hospital, where she remained until September 11, 1992. The basis for her
commitment was her worsening depression and suicidal ideation. During
the course of the doctor-patient relationship, Dr. Weinberg and the
patient had become friends and, as part of a discharge plan, the
patient's therapist supervised a meeting in which Dr. Weinberg
agreed to transfer the patient's care to another primary care
physician, so that Dr. Weinberg and the patient would no longer have a
dual relationship. After the patient's discharge, the patient saw
Dr. Weinberg at the Center on 36 more occasions. Dr. Weinberg wrote 30
prescriptions for medical drugs and 43 prescriptions for psychotropic
drugs as well as other prescriptions. Just before the patient's
discharge from the psychiatric hospital until some time in 1994, Dr.
Weinberg employed the patient as his research assistant, meeting weekly
in his office in the evenings to discuss their work. From the fall of
1992 until September of 1995, they also had a personal and sexual
relationship. Although no sexual contact ever occurred in any
professional setting, Dr. Weinberg admitted to having sexual intercourse with the patient on two occasions. The patient brought suit against Dr.
Weinberg for negligent infliction of emotional distress. After a
hearing, the Board of Registration in Medicine entered an order revoking
Dr. Weinberg's license. Dr. Weinberg appealed.
COURT'S OPINION: The Supreme Court of Massachusetts affirmed
the judgment revoking Dr. Weinberg's license. The court held, inter
alia, that a physician comes before the court, not as a citizen entitled
to a full range of individual rights available to all citizens, rather,
he comes before the court as a licensed physician whose professional
conduct is subject to state regulation. The court observed that the
conduct in question, involved his relationship with someone under his
care as a physician. Accordingly, the court concluded that it was
compelled to recognize the Board's authority to revoke the
physician's license. Weinberg v. Board of Registration in Medicine,
824 N.E. 2d 38 -MA (2005)