Psychiatrist agrees to suspension for dating ex-patient
October 21, 2014
By Matt Harrelson
Dr. Robert A. Fleury of Carolina Behavioral Care in Pinehurst will have his license to practice medicine suspended from Dec. 1 to March 1, according to a consent order between Fluery and the North Carolina Medical Board. He is responsible for paying the fine to the medical board on or before Dec. 1.
Fleury began a social relationship with a woman identified in the consent order as “Patient A” around October 2012, the order states. Fleury said he asked the patient out to dinner, and their acquaintance evolved into a dating relationship over the next few months.
“It is the board’s position that it is unethical for a psychiatrist to have a sexual relationship with a patient or former patient,” board President Dr. Paul M. Camnitz wrote in the consent order.
Fleury is affiliated with Sandhills Regional Medical Center in Hamlet, according to Sandhills’ website. Fleury could not be reached for comment in time for this story on Tuesday.
In 2012, Fleury began treating Patient A, a professional colleague and friend whom he had known for about 20 years, according to the order. The patient saw Fleury for help with her medications, which had been prescribed to her by another physician and which Patient A believed were not effective.
Patient A saw Fleury on five occasions in 2012, between Feb. 17 and Sept. 13. Fleury took the patient’s psychiatric history, diagnosed her with moderate depression and managed her prescription medications.
Fleury described his treatment of Patient A to the medical board as “psycho-pharmacology.” He denies providing her with any, as he characterizes it, “insight-psychotherapy.”
Before Fleury began treating the patient, she had divorced her husband, but during the entire time that Fleury was treating Patient A, she was experiencing significant discord with her ex-spouse over custody and support issues involving her two children, the consent order states.
Fleury knew of this discord and documented it as Patient A’s “chief complaint.” Fleury also documented that the stress Patient A was experiencing and her inability to see her children as often as she liked was causing her increased anxiety and dysphoria.
According to the order, Patient A had her last visit with Fleury on Sept. 13, 2012. At the conclusion of that visit, Fleury authorized prescriptions for various medications. He also scheduled a three-month follow-up visit.
After the visit, Fleury told the medical board that the patient told him she was improved and was no longer taking the medications he had prescribed. She also told him she did not intend to return to his office for further treatment. The consent order states that those conversations were not documented in the medical record, and Patient A was never formally discharged as a patient from Fluery’s care.
It was at this time that the relationship between the two began, according to the order. Fleury was still dating the woman when the consent order was signed on Sept. 23, the document states. The medical board notes that she “has made no complaint to the board concerning Fleury and their professional or social relationship.”
The N.C. Medical Board found that Fleury’s relationship with the patient or former patient “constitutes unprofessional conduct.”
Fleury stipulated to the summary of events as written in the consent order and waived his right to a hearing and judicial review or appeal, the order states.
At the end of the active suspension period, Fleury’s license will be automatically reinstated and he can practice without restrictions or limitations and without the need for reapplying. Fleury will also be able to maintain his ownership interest in his practice during the suspension and continue to receive income generated by the practice.
According to Carolina Behavioral Care’s website, Fleury graduated from Wake Forest University Medical School in 1977. He then received training at the Eastern Maine Medical Center in family medicine. He completed his training in psychiatry at the Dartmouth Medical School.
Fleury is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology. While at Dartmouth, he authored medical school curriculum in the area of addictionology through a Kroc Foundation grant. He started his psychiatric practice in Pinehurst in 1982. In 1992, he was named a fellow in the American Psychiatric Association.