Professional Discipline
February 27, 2008 4:37 PM   Subscribe

Upon googling a doctor I just made an appointment with, I discovered he was convicted of 2nd degree aggravated harassment. What does this mean given that it was listed on a page of professional discipline cases?

As a female, I'm not sure if I feel comfortable going to see him but I want to know what this means before I cancel the appt. I've looked up aggravated harassment, so I'm not looking for a legal definition. I'm more interested in some ideas of what might have happened given that I found it listed as a professional incident. Should I be worried about seeing him? He came highly recommended by someone I trust, if that matters.
posted by anonymous78 to Law & Government (15 answers total)
 
These records should be publically available. The New York State Department of Health
Office of Professional Medical Conduct
has a search page. Go to it.

If you've already looked there, and there are no details, call them directly to get the scoop.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:49 PM on February 27, 2008


"A person is guilty of harassment in the second degree when, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person:

1. He or she strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects such other person to physical contact, or attempts or threatens to do the same; or

2. He or she follows a person in or about a public place or places; or

3. He or she engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts which alarm or seriously annoy such other person and which serve no legitimate purpose. Subdivisions two and three of this section shall not apply to activities regulated by the national labor relations act, as amended, the railway labor act, as amended, or the federal employment labor management act, as amended. via

Cancel the appointment. You know what they call the guy who graduates dead last in his medical class? Doctor.

You can do better.
posted by misha at 4:49 PM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


If the descriptions above don't deter you: I (unknowingly) saw a doctor convicted of some type of harassment of female patients, and he was apparently required to keep his examining room door open at all times. At least, that was my conclusion, because he never shut the door, and he didn't do the kind of exam he should have done (gyn). As a result, he seriously misdiagnosed me.

He also seemed to be a bit of a nutcase--that's why I looked him up when I got out of there.
posted by PatoPata at 4:55 PM on February 27, 2008


Keep in mind that a "conviction" of an offense of this nature was probably a guilty plea after a plea bargain. The initial charge may have been much more. . . dramatic.

And there would be a record of what the original charge was, before the plea.
posted by megatherium at 5:51 PM on February 27, 2008


If you contact the state licensing board they will send you a copy of the professional discipline case.

I knew a doctor who had one of these and in his case it stemmed from his alcoholism. He screwed up a lotand ended up suspended and losing operating priviledges but, years later, is still practicing somehow. Based on that I'd definitely look into your doctors record before making any major medical decisions under their care.
posted by fshgrl at 6:08 PM on February 27, 2008


He also seemed to be a bit of a nutcase--that's why I looked him up when I got out of there.

I think that's enough of a reason to look elsewhere, no?
posted by rokusan at 6:17 PM on February 27, 2008


megatherium - can you elaborate on that a bit? what kind of charge could have been made and then reduced to 2nd degree aggravated harassment?
posted by anonymous78 at 6:18 PM on February 27, 2008


rokusan - that's not me. i haven't seen him yet. and, as i said, he came highly recommended by someone who has seen him since the charge was brought, etc.
posted by anonymous78 at 6:19 PM on February 27, 2008


On the other hand, he may have had some kind of personal problem with a patient, or fellow doctor, or somebody else, that doesn't apply to anyone else. It happens. Maybe he got disciplined for punching a HMO rep; in which case, show up with a bottle of scotch.

Seriously, talk to your friend who recommended the doctor. Does he/she know about it?

If not, talk to the doctor about it, over the phone. Say "My friend recommended you, but I just looked you up on the internet, and I found this conviction, but there weren't any details. I'm a bit concerned, as you might expect. What was that about?" He might tell you, he might not, he might even tell you a self-serving story. But on the other hand he might handle it well. Give him a chance to explain, and tell him you'll think about it. Then do.

If you don't like him, at least have the courtesy to call him back and cancel the appointment.

If you do like him, and his story rings true and makes sense (or the matter really is not applicable to you in any way), then go ahead with it.

If you're still worried, ask your friend who recommended you to come along.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:30 PM on February 27, 2008


The fact that it's listed with professional discipline cases doesn't necessarily mean that the offence had to do with his practice of medicine. Any criminal conviction is cause for a review by the licencing agency on whether he's still fit.
posted by winston at 6:32 PM on February 27, 2008


"2nd degree aggravated" means it wasn't planned and other stuff happened. I'm proposing the possiblity that he fought back against a patient and they were both convicted of something.
posted by rhizome at 8:07 PM on February 27, 2008


Seconding misha's response above. I had a horrible experience when I was pregnant with my first child, with an ob/gyn whom I later learned was "known" for touching his patients inappropriately. I wish there had been an internet back then.
posted by amyms at 8:08 PM on February 27, 2008


Why spend time giving this guy the benefit of the doubt? It's YOUR BODY! Go to another doctor.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:08 PM on February 27, 2008


As a nurse, I have this to say: Cancel the appointment.

Any physician convicted of a crime is not worth seeing. Put it this way... in the medical field when I apply for a job, I must have a criminal background check completed. I cannot get a job if I have any previous convictions and I'm only a nurse compared to that doctor! The standard for a doctor should be higher and you should seek another elsewhere.

I understand that people make mistakes, but he evidently has impulse problems which could interfere with him on a professional level. It's not about forgiveness, but about professional reliability.
posted by magnoliasouth at 10:08 PM on February 27, 2008


IAmBroom Why spend time giving this guy the benefit of the doubt? It's YOUR BODY! Go to another doctor.
Because giving people an opportunity to explain themselves is just. Because you haven't got a clue what exactly he did. Because there's no guarantee that any given doctor who hasn't been convicted of a crime is necessarily going to be any better; in fact, he might just be a lot better at hiding it, whatever "it" is. Because the doctor here comes recommended by a (presumably trustworthy) friend, and seeing another one might be a crap shoot. Because seeing a skilled doctor with a short temper, and taking the (unlikely) risk of him yelling at or hitting you if you somehow offend him, is a lot better than seeing a rubber-stamping time-server whose idea of medical practice is to prescribe whatever drug seems to fit most of the symptoms, and that he gets kickbacks for. Want some more reasons?

magnoliasouth Any physician convicted of a crime is not worth seeing. Put it this way... in the medical field when I apply for a job, I must have a criminal background check completed. I cannot get a job if I have any previous convictions and I'm only a nurse compared to that doctor! The standard for a doctor should be higher and you should seek another elsewhere.

Frankly, that's absurdly unjust, unworkable, and amounts to decertification for any crime whatsoever regardless of the degree of severity or relevance to medical practice. The medical professional board has allowed the guy to continue as a doctor. Decertification was one of the options open to them, and they obviously chose not to take it. This necessarily implies he is trusted, by them, to see patients.

I understand that people make mistakes,
I don't think you do, and I think you won't until you are the person who makes the mistake, and then enlightenment will suddenly descend on you like a rainbow from the sky.

but he evidently has impulse problems which could interfere with him on a professional level.
And yet the medical professional board does not think that they will, apparently.

It's not about forgiveness, but about professional reliability.
No-one's 100% reliable. Ever. More broadly in criminal law, removal of the possibility of forgiveness and rehabilitation leads to deeply undesirable consequences. As you acknowledge yourself, making a person with criminal convictions unable to get a job in the field to which they have dedicated their lives is ridiculous and unfair.

Now, there might well be good reasons not to see this doctor. The disciplinary action might directly impact on the OP's circumstances. But without going to the slight trouble of finding out, she can't know.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:15 AM on February 28, 2008


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