VA Medical Board Suspends Two Doctors for Inappropriate Patient Relations

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | May 05, 2024 | 0 Comments

Doctors must treat their patients with respect and act professionally and ethically at all times. Failure to follow these guidelines can have serious consequences—a lesson that two Richmond, Virginia, doctors recently learned the hard way when both had their licenses revoked because of inappropriate relationships with their patients. But were these consequences merited?  

If you've had your medical license revoked or have questions about appropriate conduct, we want to hear from you. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 1(888) 535-3686 or contact us online, and let us help defend your rights during this critical process. 

Two Doctors Suspended for Inappropriate Relationships 

In February 2024, Dr. Patrick Anthony Oliver and Dr. Samuel Thomas Clanton joined the growing list of medical practitioners accused of sexual misconduct with their patients. However, unlike offenders like Dr. Larry Nassar (team USA's gymnastics coach, who was convicted of assaulting over 150 patients in 2016), these cases weren't necessarily sexual assault.  

Both Virginia doctors in this situation insist that their relationships were consensual. Dr. Clanton even surrendered his medical license voluntarily, while Dr. Oliver claimed the dates of his relationship never even overlapped with his patient's treatment. However, those distinctions might not matter to the Virginia Board of Medicine, which—like many licensing boards—might be too quick to pass judgment.  

A Skewed Power Dynamic 

The doctor-patient relationship requires a lot of trust. Patients must trust that their doctor has their best interest at heart during an appointment. They must trust that the information they're told is correct, that the prescriptions and treatment given are appropriate, and that the doctor is up to date with current information, procedures, and standard practices.  

Since most patients know very little about their condition, this creates a skewed doctor-patient dynamic. From their position of authority, it would be easy for a physician to pressure a patient into participating in something they weren't comfortable with.  

As a result, most states have strict rules that prohibit a physician from pursuing sexual relationships with their patients. Hence, while Dr. Oliver and Dr. Cromer might not have forced their patients into anything, they still need to show investigators that the behavior wasn't inappropriate.  

What Are the Rules for Physician Conduct? 

Individual states dictate the medical licensing and ethics rules that govern physician conduct, so exact rules will vary between jurisdictions. However, generally speaking, these rules often prohibit healthcare professionals from:  

  • Engaging in a sexual relationship with a patient.  
  • Making a sexual advance toward a patient. 
  • Using authority to pressure a patient into physical intimacy or further connection.  
  • Making inappropriate jokes, using sexual innuendos, or talking flirtatiously.  
  • Sharing personal details with a patient that are unrelated to treatment.  
  • Meeting casually with a patient outside of work.  
  • Exposing their patients to sexually explicit material.  
  • Touching a patient in a flirtatious or inappropriate manner.  

According to the Medical Association's Code of Ethics, a physician must terminate the doctor/patient relationship before having any romantic or sexual relationship with a patient.  

Do You Have a Question About Ethical Conduct? 

If your license was suspended or revoked because of inappropriate behavior, we want to hear from you. Call the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team today at 1(888) 535-3686 or contact us online, and let us help defend your rights during this important process.  

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento has unparalleled experience fighting for the futures of his professional clients nationwide. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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