“No one really knows how many victims there are. Many don’t ever report their physicians for inappropriate behavior or sexual assault. It’s very difficult to come forward and accuse your doctor of something like that. It’s also a tremendous source of guilt and shame.” (Doctor Reid Finlayson, Vanderbilt University psychiatrist who assesses whether doctors accused of sexual violations are fit to practice)
A recent study that covered the time-span of 1999-2016, found that 75% of Texan physicians disciplined for sexual assault, were allowed to continue undressing women for money. One doctor was initially punished by the Texas Medical Board because he was charged with sexually molesting 3 young girls. Another was charged with sexually assaulting 3 male patients. And a neurologist was accused of groping at least 12 women.
But rather than keep them away from some of the most vulnerable members of society – patients – the Texas Medical Board allowed all 3 to keep their medical licenses.
This is the reality of physician discipline in Texas, according to an analysis of state records by the American-Statesman newspaper.
Among the newspaper’s findings:
- Out of 200 physicians disciplined, only 50 had their licenses revoked. The remaining 150 were allowed to continue working, many of whom moved out of state.
- The Texas Medical Board allows many doctors with sexual criminal records to keep their licenses. For example, a Houston physician who confessed to multiple counts of child abuse continues to practice. His case involved sexually abusing several children.
- Oftentimes, medical board decisions are so vaguely written on their websites that future patients have no idea what the doctor did wrong. In one case, the medical board wrote that “some patients expressed discomfort with the examination techniques” performed. But a more detailed document said this: “The 11-year-old child reported that the doctor had kissed her on the lips.” In another charge by the same doctor, he was accused of inappropriately touching the breasts of two other females.
Doctor Faiz Ahmed, who worked in Brownsville, near Dallas, as well as Houston in his 25-year medical career, is one of numerous physicians who was allowed to work after serious charges. It wasn’t long before he was back in trouble again.
Over the course of a full decade, from 1993-2002, Ahmed, a neurologist, was accused of fondling the breasts of 11 patients, including two 15-year-olds, according to the court records. Three of his victims said he groped their buttocks and touched their genitals. Charged with assault in Hidalgo County and sued by the patients, he prevailed in both civil and criminal courts and was found not guilty.
The medical board weighed the same accusations and issued an order in 2003 that banned Ahmed from treating women for 10 years and ordered him to see a psychiatrist.
“The acquittal of a doctor in criminal court makes the pending board case much more difficult to prosecute. The board agreed to an order prohibiting the physician from interacting with female patients for 10 years, rather than risk losing the case at trial and leaving female patients with no protection at all.”
Ahmed, who told the medical board that the women who complained about him were misinterpreting his neurological exams, later provided reports from a psychiatrist friend, who concluded that he wasn’t a sexual predator. So in 2008 — halfway through the 10-year duration of the board’s order — the board lifted its prohibition on him treating women.
Two months later, Ahmed’s privileges were suspended at Dallas Regional Medical Center when two more patients reported to police that he groped their breasts and genitals several times.
The board also received a complaint from a staff member at Ahmed’s office who said he would “rub up against her whenever she was bent down.”
Although the board found the doctor had engaged in sexual contact with a patient; inappropriate behavior toward a patient; and abusive/assaultive behavior toward patients and employees, they let him keep his medical license. They stipulated that a female chaperone be present when he treated women. He was also required to take a boundaries course. Those four-year restrictions expired in early 2015.
Hundreds of records reviewed by Statesman investigators show that some doctors were punished for dating patients, for example, while others who sexually assaulted patients in their care were scarcely disciplined at all.
The number of victims; the frequency of violations, the type of abuse, the rehabilitation potential of each doctor, whether substance abuse was involved – documents show that all of these factors play into how severely, or lightly, a physician has been penalized.
Details on the medical board’s website are so vague it is impossible to determine what a physician has been disciplined for.
There is no clear way to know how many people complain to the medical board each year of sexual violations – the state board doesn’t bother to track how many doctor complaints come in each year. Nor how many cases it investigates. If the board decides there is no merit to the complaints, they are dismissed and no public record is created to show that an inquiry even took place.
Of course when confronted, doctors don’t always tell the truth. Sometimes their stories don’t live up to the facts reported by the medical boards, hospitals or other sources of information.
That’s when the polygraph can help.
A 2015 study showed that lie detector tests can elicit more information about physician misconduct than a doctor previously disclosed. In one cited example, a gynecologist who said his sexual relationship with a patient was a one-time incident later admitted there had been “additional victims of professional sexual misconduct,” the study stated.
The medical board, however, does not have to meet the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard applied in criminal cases. Instead, the board can use the “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning that it judges a case on the most convincing facts, a less stringent standard than used in criminal court.
Convicted, but still licensed
But even a criminal conviction doesn’t necessarily cost a physician his license to practice.
Doctor Gregory Simon Vagshenian of Lakeway, a former Veterans Affairs psychiatrist, was allowed to keep his license despite being convicted on 9 counts of assault on three male VA patients. Vagshenian was accused of performing unwanted sexual acts on the three men, but he was acquitted of felony sexual assault charges. They were reduced to misdemeanors.
In December 2004, the medical board barred him from direct contact with patients.
The Statesman investigation found dozens of doctors who had been ordered to attend “sexual boundaries” classes. There is no indication how successful these classes are.
The People vs. Doctor Faiz Ahmed
After more than a decade of increased scrutiny and restrictions from the medical board, the disciplinary orders on Doctor Faiz Ahmed were lifted in April 2015.
Three months later, Ahmed was one of two Houston doctors charged in a conspiracy that defrauded public health care programs of $9,000,000.
Federal prosecutors say in the document that Ahmed and his colleague were involved in racking up Medicare and Medicaid charges for assorted blood and allergy tests, scans and other diagnostics that were either unnecessary or never performed.
Ahmed is a Persian who graduated from Bangalore Medical College in India and then emigrated to the United States. He is but one of thousands of Third World Assassins who have plundered the appallingly week U.S. healthcare system.
Ahmed’s trial is scheduled for this fall.
The Statesman’s analysis was done in conjunction with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a groundbreaking investigative report on sexual abuse by doctors across the country. The investigation, “Doctors & Sex Abuse,” found more than 3,100 doctors have been publicly disciplined since January 1999, after being accused of sexual misconduct.