California psychiatrist ‘depressed’ by Trump 2016 win stumbled to work drunk, board says
By Jared Gilmour
May 16, 2019
California’s medical board put a Napa psychiatrist on probation for seven years after he admitted to stumbling to work drunk the day after President Donald Trump’s election because he was “depressed” by the outcome, board records say.
Dr. Michael Cosgrove, a staff psychiatrist at Napa State Hospital, showed up to work on Nov. 9, 2016, walking unsteadily and with difficulty keeping his balance — and a police officer who noticed Cosgrove’s behavior stopped him to ask if he’d been drinking, according to the board’s decision in the case, which went into effect May 10.
Cosgrove told the officer that he’d “been drinking all night because he was depressed by the presidential election,” according to the board.
When asked if he’d driven himself to work, Cosgrove said he hadn’t. Another officer came minutes later and also noticed Cosgrove was “unsteady on his feet.” His “breath smelled of alcohol, and he had difficulty enunciating complete sentences,” according to the board.
Cosgrove eventually told the second officer that he had been “drinking scotch last night and this morning,” according to the board. A third officer arrived and also noticed that the psychiatrist appeared drunk, and that he was “unsteady, even while sitting down.” A friend of Cosgrove’s came to take the doctor home around 10 that morning, the board said.
Two days after the election, on Nov. 10, a Napa State Hospital investigator interviewed Cosgrove on the hospital grounds. During that conversation, Cosgrove told investigators that on Election Day “he was very upset about the state of the U.S. Presidential Election and so he went to a liquor store where he purchased ‘a six-pack [beer] and a tiny bottle of scotch,’” according to the board.
Cosgrove said his drinking started around 11:30 p.m. on election night and ended the following morning around 4 a.m. — but he said he was “not drunk” when he drove himself to work on Nov. 9, though he did concede that he probably “smelled like a brewery” and was hungover, woozy and short on sleep, the board said.
Cosgrove told the Napa State investigator that he had decided to come in that day despite his condition because he had a new patient being admitted and he felt pressure to be there, the board said.
The medical board launched an investigation in February 2017, according to the accusation state officials filed against Cosgrove. When Cosgrove spoke to state investigators that month, he was still drinking and had a beer with his meal a night earlier, the board said.
Cosgrove also offered the medical board’s investigators “a different version of events” than the story he had told Napa State investigators just after the election. In this second version, Cosgrove said he didn’t drink as much as he’d said before, and added that he didn’t drink as late into the night as 4 a.m., according to the board. He also blamed his unsteadiness on a twisted ankle and hip surgery after a 2015 car accident, investigators said.
The decision to put the doctor on probation — which Cosgrove and his attorney signed and accepted in late January 2019 — means Cosgrove “admits to the truth of each and every charge in the accusation” against him, the board said. Under the agreement, he’s not allowed to drink or use controlled substances, according to the board.
The attorney listed as representing Cosgrove in state medical board records did not immediately respond to McClatchy’s request for comment on Thursday morning.
Cosgrove was previously caught drinking and driving in 2003 and 2007, the board said in its decision, adding that he was put on probation in 2009 after those incidents.
The medical board’s 2019 decision actually revoked Cosgrove’s physician’s and surgeon’s certificate, but stayed that decision and imposed the seven years of probation, records said.
The Department of State Hospitals confirmed through a spokesperson that Cosgrove works at Napa State but would not comment on the incident resulting in his probation, the Napa Valley Register reports. The board’s probation decision bars him from supervising advanced practice nurses and physician assistants. He’s also barred from practicing medicine solo.