R.I. judge upholds pulling of psychiatrist’s license after she had affair with patient
By Katie Mulvaney
September 1, 2020
534 Angell St, Providence, RI 02906
PROVIDENCE — A Superior Court judge has upheld the state’s revocation of a Providence psychiatrist’s medical license following her affair with a former male patient she treated for couple’s therapy with his wife.
Judge Susan E. McGuirl on Monday upheld the state Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline and Department of Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott’s decision to discipline Sarah F. Boyle by revoking her medical license and fining her $10,000 for repeated incidents of unprofessional conduct.
McGuirl rejected Boyle’s arguments that the decision was arbitrary and capricious and affected by error of law.
According to the ruling, Boyle treated the unidentified couple, who eventually divorced, separately and together from 2001 to 2007. She became romantically involved with the husband in 2011, a year after they went on a cruise.
The wife filed a complaint against Boyle in 2014, accusing her of engaging in unprofessional conduct by failing to properly transfer her medical records to her new doctor and for attending a Family Court hearing in 2014 in support of the woman’s husband.
The board members held an investigative committee meeting, which Boyle attended, after which they recommended that her license be suspended. Boyle appealed and asked for the suspension to be rescinded, arguing that her continued practice did not pose a danger to the public.
The board denied her request for reinstatement but agreed to reconsider the suspension if she underwent a psychiatric evaluation.
She faced four allegations of professional conduct. The first stemmed from her romantic relationship with her former patient and her appearance at the Family Court hearing. The wife screamed at her presence and Boyle left the courtroom at a deputy sheriff’s direction, only to reappear when the hearing switched to another courtroom.
The second allegation related to her engaging in a financial relationship with the ex-husband by renting an apartment above the one he had shared with his ex-wife. (The board did not uphold this count.)
The third count accused her of improperly discharging the woman by never properly signing off on her as a patient and by adding new diagnoses to her record more than three years after their last session. The diagnoses included probable psychotic disorder; delusional, schizoaffective, major depressive disorder with psychosis; and strong borderline narcissistic and histrionic characteristics. A psychiatrist for the state noted that the conditions did not appear in wife’s earlier record.
Lastly, the board found that she violated the rules of professional conduct by failing to properly transfer her record to her succeeding provider, instead providing only summaries.
The board then heard from dueling psychiatrists. Dr. Patricia Recupero reported that Boyle did not have a mental illness that would impair her ability to safely practice and that enough time had elapsed for her to ethically become romantically involved with her former patient.
Dr. Brandon Krupp countered that Boyle’s relationship with a patient she had administered therapeutic treatment to represented boundary and ethical violations. He testified that Boyle’s additional diagnoses for the woman were not impartial and that she should have known that her presence at a Family Court hearing would be upsetting to her former patient.
On December 9, 2015, after a full hearing and unanimous vote by the board, the director revoked Boyle’s license to practice medicine in Rhode Island based on findings of unprofessional conduct. Boyle appealed.
In ruling Monday, McGuirl sided with the board, finding that its decision was based on reliable, probative and substantial evidence.
“Understandably, we disagree with the ruling and will explore our options,” Boyle’s lawyer, Vicki Bejma, said.