What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel…ah, never mind.

Dr. Arthur K. Zilberstein, a 47-year-old anesthesiologist licensed in the state of Washington since 1995, has had his medical license suspended after it was alleged that he had been sexting while on duty at his hospital, including during surgeries he was assigned to, among other digressions.

The Washington State Department of Health issued a 17-page statement of charges detailing 23 incidents when Dr. Zilberstein allegedly exchanged personal and often sexually explicit text messages on duty while responsible for the anesthesia of patients, from at least April through August 2013. The report details nearly 250 text messages containing sexual innuendos during the course of procedures such as labor and delivery, including multiple Caesarean section operations; labor epidurals; incision and drainage; cardiac probe insertions; tubal ligations; spinal procedures; and pediatric appendectomies.

The Department of Health noted that the doctor is supposed to be focusing on his patients during surgery and warned that Dr. Zilberstein’s “preoccupation with sexual matters” compromised patient safety. It detailed 23 incidents of texting during procedures in which he was the responsible anesthesiologist. One charge described an August 6, 2013 C-section where Dr. Zilberstein reportedly “exchanged forty-five text messages with sexual innuendos, between 11:55 a.m. and 1:19 p.m.” One text boasted: “I’m hella busy with C-sections.” Also, according to the official statement of comments, during one cardiac probe insertion procedure, the doctor exchanged 26 text messages, many of which included “explicit sexual comments.” Another charge alleges that on one particular day, Dr. Zilberstein sent 64 text messages over the course of 7 surgeries; again, much of the content was laden with sexual innuendos.

One statement in the report read: “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.” Here’s another excerpt from the scathing report: “In a text message one minute before Patient T’s July 2013 surgery, at 2:33 p.m., respondent texted to his girlfriend a description of his immediate sexual desire for her. Respondent was the responsible anesthesiologist for Patient T between 2:34 and 3:33 p.m. Respondent exchanged fifteen additional text messages during that surgery between 3:11 p.m. and 3:31 p.m. to arrange a covert encounter with his girlfriend at the hospital.”

In one of Zilberstein’s texts in July 2013, he reportedly invited his girlfriend to come to the hospital while he was working and told her he would let her into the doctors’ lot so she wouldn’t have to pay for parking. Then, in a follow-up text, he told her (in detail) of his immediate sexual urge for her, according to the charges.It goes downhill from there.

Sex and the City Hospital

If sexting on duty weren’t enough, to make matters worse, Dr. Zilberstein is accused of having sex with one of his female patients at the hospital. It’s also reported that the doctor improperly accessed the medical records of this woman from another clinic in order to masturbate while looking at her “medical” images. The statement of charges includes an accusation of the doctor improperly accessing medical imaging records "not for medical purposes, but in order to view images of the patient for his own sexual gratification."

Unauthorized Prescribing of Narcotics

Dr. Zilberstein is also accused of writing 29 unauthorized prescriptions for the highly addictive, frequently abused painkiller oxycodone without a medical reason; most of them were written for the woman he had sex with at the hospital. The statement of charges continues by citing multiple instances in which the doctor is accused of improperly prescribing prescription drugs such as Ritalin, hydrocodone, and oxycodone to several other patients, without using proper procedures, such as providing diagnoses and treatment plans, keeping medical records, or charting patient history.

A “Selfie” of His Private Parts

The Department of Health report also noted that the doctor “demonstrated moral turpitude which lessens the reputation of the medical profession in the eyes of the community by sending color ‘selfies’ to Patient Z depicting himself in hospital scrubs, wearing his hospital badge, and exposing his genitals. Respondent accompanied these images with sexual innuendo commentary.” One text message from Dr. Zilberstein read: “Oh. And my partner walked in as I was pulling up my scrubs. I’m pretty sure he caught me.” In another text, he displayed “a disrespectful and racist attitude towards a patient.” The statement also made note that Dr. Zilberstein misled the investigative committee by providing a different work schedule than officials records indicate.

Dr. Zilberstein’s employer, the Swedish Medical Center, a large nonprofit health care provider in Seattle, immediately suspended the doctor’s membership and privileges upon notification that his medical license was suspended. The hospital is in the process of conducting its own internal investigation, citing, “The safety of our patients is our number one priority.”

Dr. Zilberstein has the right to respond to the allegations and request a hearing but he cannot practice medicine until the case is resolved.

Reference

  1. Aleccia J. Seattle doc suspended for sexting during surgeries. NBC News website. June 9, 2014. http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/seattle-doc-suspended-sexting-during-surgeries-n126951.
  2. Bever L. This might be a first: a Seattle doctor is suspended for sexting during surgery. Washington Post website. June 10, 2014. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/06/10/this-might-be-a-first-a-seattle-doctor-is-suspended-for-texting-and-sexting-during-his-surgeries.
  3. Doctor accused of sexting during surgery. Washington Times website. June 9, 2014. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jun/13/doctor-charged-sexting-during-surgery-suspended-pr/.
  4. Ernst D. Doctor charged with sexting during surgery, suspended for ‘preoccupation with sexual matters.’ Washington Times website. June 13, 2014. http://www.washingtontimes.com/topics/arthur-k-zilberstein.
  5. Sakoda C. Doctor’s license suspended after allegedly sexting during surgeries and sending semi-nude selfies. Yahoo News website. June 10, 2014. http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/odd-news/doctor%E2%80%99s-license-suspended-after-allegedly-sexting-during-surgeries-and-sending-semi-nude-selfies-213611537.html.