A Seattle anesthesiologist who allegedly sent sexually explicit texts dozens of times a day while he was supervising C-sections and other surgeries has had his medical license suspended immediately.
Washington state health authorities said Monday that Dr. Arthur K. Zilberstein, 47, compromised patient safety because of a “preoccupation with sexual matters” while on duty between at least April 2013 and August 2013.
Charges filed with the state Medical Quality Assurance Commission allege that on one day alone, June 17, 2013, Zilberstein sent 64 texts during seven surgeries, many of which had sexual innuendos. Many of the texts were apparently sent minutes apart, including one that read: “I’m hella busy with C sections.”
“Respondent’s lack of focus on patient care while providing anesthesia services for hospital-based surgical procedures routinely fell below the standard of care and put patients at unreasonable risk of harm,” the statement said.
In addition, Zilberstein allegedly accessed medical images improperly for sexual gratification and had sexual encounters at his workplace, the charges state. He’s also accused of issuing at least 29 unauthorized prescriptions for controlled substances and other drugs. The charges also allege that Zilberstein had sexual relations with a patient and prescribed unauthorized narcotics to her.
Zilberstein also demonstrated “moral turpitude” that reflected badly on the medical profession by sending color “selfies” to that patient “depicting himself in hospital scrubs, wearing his hospital badge and exposing his genitals,” the charges said.
“Oh. And my partner walked in as I was pulling up my scrubs. I’m pretty sure he caught me,” another text read.
It wasn’t immediately clear how Zilberstein’s actions were detected.
Zilberstein cannot practice until the charges are resolved, health officials said. He has 20 days to respond to the charges and request a hearing, officials said.
Zilberstein did not return NBC News calls for comment about the charges.
Zilberstein has been in practice since 1995, records show, and he has contracted through Physicians Anesthesia Services with Swedish Medical Center to provide care. His privileges were suspended Friday, said hospital spokesman Clay Holtzman.
"The safety of our patients is our number one priority," Holtzman said in a statement. "Once we learned that the state had suspended this physician's medical license, the physician's medical staff membership and privileges were immediately suspended. We just recently learned of these allegations and are conducting our own internal review of the physician, who is not directly employed by Swedish."
First published June 9 2014, 5:53 PM