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The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT)

November 13, 2002 Wednesday

Doctor gives up license

BYLINE: Adam Silverman, Staff

SECTION: VERMONT; Pg. 1B

LENGTH: 492 words

Board cites ties to patients
By Adam Silverman
A Williston psychiatrist will never again practice in Vermont after she admitted discussing patients’ problems with others under her care and carrying on improper friendships with patients, according to a ruling of the state Medical Practice Board.
Dr. Jodi Peister’s license had been suspended since January 2001. In an order from the board last week, Peister agreed to permanently surrender her state medical license.
Peister, who is identified as a holistic psychiatrist, could not be reached for comment. Her attorney, Peter Joslin of Montpelier, said Peister left the state last year.
She affixed her signature to the board’s ruling Nov. 4 in Nyack, N.Y.
“Dr. Peister has no intention of returning to the state of Vermont to practice medicine,” Joslin said Tuesday.
The Medical Practice Board received a complaint about Peister in October 2000 from a former patient.
Peister admitted to talking to the patient, who is not identified, about the treatment of others in her care, according to the board’s written order.
In the order, Peister said she entered into a close friendship with the patient, and the two socialized at Peister’s home and had lengthy phone chats. According to the order, Peister said she talked with the patient about her own marital, family and financial problems.
The order says Peister also socialized with other patients at her home.
After the board suspended Peister’s license in January 2001, she was found to be serving as legal guardian for another former patient in February 2001. That action violated the conditions of her suspension, according to last week’s order.
Bob Orr, director of ethics at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, said a psychiatrist socializing with patients and discussing the care of one with another constitute serious violations of trust. In psychiatry, a personal relationship could cloud the doctor’s advice and exert undue pressure on the patient to follow it, Orr said. Discussing a patient’s case with others violates confidentiality, said Orr, who is not familiar with Peister’s specific case.
“The appropriate boundaries vary considerably,” Orr said, explaining that standards for a general practitioner could be less restrictive than for a psychiatrist. “The very highest bar is in psychiatry. They have a duty to keep separate their private and professional lives.”
According to the Medical Practice Board’s Web site, Peister graduated in 1991 from Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York with a specialty in psychiatry. Her original license date in Vermont was July 1996, according to the Web site.
The agreement with the Medical Practice Board prohibits Peister from seeking reinstatement in Vermont. Joslin said the order does not prohibit Peister from applying for a medical license elsewhere.