Guam Daily Post
Former Guam psychiatrist seeks resolution to complaint
By John O’Connor
November 9, 2020
A psychiatrist who formerly worked at the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center and left Guam following complaints made against him in December 2019 is seeking to resolve the matter in order to begin working in Alaska.
Six patients filed a complaint against Dr. Abner Pasatiempo in December 2019, according to discussions at that time within the Guam Board of Medical Examiners, which received the complaint.
Before practicing in Guam, Pasatiempo had been disciplined in Maryland for engaging in a sexual relationship with a patient.
In 2006, the Maryland Board of Physicians suspended his license for five years but stayed all but 18 months. Pasatiempo was given conditions to fulfill as part of a consent order with the board.
In 2008, the Maryland board reinstated his license following the completion of the conditions, although he was still on probation.
Dr. Nathaniel Berg, chairman of the GBME, recounted Pasatiempo’s history in Maryland during the December 2019 board meeting but said the Guam board granted his license because there was an “extraordinary need” at Behavioral Health.
The Guam complaint includes allegations of physical contact, including touching a patient’s buttocks, but not sex, according to GBME discussions in December 2019.
Pasatiempo’s license was up for renewal around the time the complaint was submitted, but he withdrew his renewal application. He had also been suspended from Behavioral Health, according to board discussions in December 2019. Pasatiempo later resigned from the agency.
By the end of December 2019, he was no longer licensed on Guam. And with Pasatiempo not seeking renewal, the board lost its jurisdiction to continue investigating the case.
However, because Pasatiempo opted not to renew his license pending an investigation by GBME, a report was made to the National Practitioner Data Bank, which, according to the website, “is a repository of reports containing information on medical malpractice payments and certain adverse actions related to health care practitioners, providers and suppliers.”
It is meant to keep practitioners from moving from state to state without disclosure or discovery of previous “damaging performance,” according to the site.
The GBME took up the Pasatiempo case again on Oct. 21.
Berg said the issue was that Pasatiempo did not understand adverse action would be taken by declining to renew his license and he wanted to resume his application and address the complaints.
Employment in Alaska
Attorney Curtis Vandeveld represented Pasatiempo. He said his client is now in Alaska and seeking employment in the state, but is unable to do so because of the pending investigation notice and would like to clear his name and record.
“My client was notified of the filing of these complaints … and no formal proceedings were initiated against him,” Vandeveld said. “He indicated that based upon the fact that there were no formal actions pending against him, that he was frustrated and intended to leave Guam and go elsewhere and so he withdrew his application of renewal not anticipating that this would lead to a report to the data bank.”
Pasatiempo has already submitted a reinstatement application, he added.
Although the board had not conducted the investigation, it did receive a complaint and initiated the process with a letter to Pasatiempo, Berg said. GBME’s legal counsel advised the board to pick up the investigation where it left off in December 2019.
Berg said he did not mind seeing if there is a practicing psychiatrist on Guam willing to act as an investigator, since there is no one like that on the board. But as another member noted, almost all psychiatrists on Guam submitted letters of support of Pasatiempo’s reinstatement. That board member also questioned whether a police investigation was more appropriate, given the nature of the complaint.
The Office of the Attorney General announced investigations into Pasatiempo in February but had no further update as of Friday, according to Carlina Charfauros, the attorney general’s spokeswoman.
The main concern for GBME is whether there is a violation of the Medical Practice Act, Berg said.
‘You’re either innocent or you’re not’
GBME member Phil Flores said he read something among the case files to the effect of Pasatiempo saying he had been discouraged to reapply by one of the members.
“I have read through everything and that is just not accurate,” Flores said.
Berg said he spoke to Pastiempo, but did not discourage him. Berg also said he thinks the conversation had the effect of being discouraging.
“I’m sorry, doctor, but I don’t go for that. You’re either innocent or you’re not and I’m hoping you’re innocent,” Flores said. “When I saw (Pastatiempo’s statements), it was just like, come on. We are trying to be as straight-line as possible and if you’re trying to put words in our mouths, letters on our pages that are not accurate, it makes me lose faith. But I’m completely open-minded on this.”
GBME legal counsel said Pasatiempo can elaborate in the future regarding whether he made the statements about being discouraged.
Berg said Vandeveld will be contacted once a psychiatrist is found to act as an investigator. As of Friday, Vandeveld said he had no update regarding the renewal or investigation.