The Boston Globe
Sex scandal costs license of Brookline psychiatrist
By Richard Saltus
August 12, 1994
In an unusual disciplinary action, the state Board of Registration in Medicine has summarily suspended the license of a Brookline psychiatrist accused of having sex with a former patient by whom she said she became pregnant, officials said yesterday.
The medical board’s action Wednesday evening against Dr. Suzanne K. King is extraordinary because it shortcuts the normal legal requirement that a physician not be barred from practice without a hearing.
Summary suspension is permissible, however, when the board asserts that a physician’s continued practice constitutes an “immediate and serious threat to the public health,” said Alexander Fleming, executive director of the board. “The board takes allegations of psychiatric sexual misconduct extremely seriously.”
Investigators are pursuing the possibility that King’s allegedly improper conduct involved more than one person, said Paul Gitlin, board chairman.
Fleming said the state began an investigation after being notified last January that Massachusetts General Hospital, where King was on a one-year fellowship, had placed her on medical leave because of “inappropriate and erratic behavior.” She had been repeatedly late and absent from work, had improperly divulged personal matters and had become increasingly unkempt, according to the medical board.
MGH officials yesterday confirmed the disciplinary action but would give no further information about King’s performance, citing confidentiality laws.
King, 42, also was an associate member of the medical staff of HRI Hospital in Brookline from July 1993 through last June, when her “staff privileges ceased,” said a statement from the hospital.
Sometime after the state investigation began, the board received a complaint from the former patient, who had begun treatment with King while she was at MGH, Fleming said. According to the board’s statement of allegations released yesterday, King invited her former patient to her home after she was placed on leave from the hospital, and also went on overnight trips with him to Chatham, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
From March to June of this year, King engaged in a sexual relationship with the former patient both at her house and at his, according to the board.
In early June, King told the man she had become pregnant by him, and at various times called him and left long messages on his answering machine about the relationship and the pregnancy, said the statement. In at least one of those messages, King mentioned that other patients might have complaints against her as well, said Gitlin. However, he said in an interview that he had no knowledge of any additional complaints being filed.
King received her license to practice medicine in Massachusetts in June 1993. She received her medical degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1988 and subsequently received a California medical license in October 1990, said a spokeswoman for the Medical Board of California. King is entitled by law to an administrative hearing on the suspension within 10 days. If the hearing officer agrees with the board’s action, the doctor’s license remains suspended and a further hearing on the allegations is scheduled. If the hearing officer finds the board’s action was not justified, the matter goes back to the board for reconsideration, said Fleming.
Alan Posner, a Boston attorney representing King, said yesterday that he and his client had not yet decided whether to exercise her right to a quick hearing, and he declined to comment on the allegations.