A Seattle anesthesiologist had his license suspended in early June for charges that included allegedly sexting during surgery.
“We received some complaints and that’s how the investigation started,” Kelly Stowe, a spokesperson for the Washington state Department of Health, told USA TODAY Network.
Physician Arthur Zilberstein is charged with compromising patient safety because of his “preoccupation with sexual matters while he was on hospital duty,” according to a press release issued by the state’s health department.
The official statement of charges accuses Zilberstein of sending and receiving sexually explicit text messages while on duty from “at least April through August 2013.” The statement gives examples from six days of Zilberstein’s work duty. Many of the alleged exchanges occurred while he was assisting with cesarean deliveries and other surgeries.
The allegations also say Zilberstein gave at least 29 unlicensed prescriptions, looked at a patient’s files for “sexual gratification,” and had “sexual encounters” with the same patient in the hospital’s doctor lounge.
Zilberstein has been a licensed physician and surgeon in Washington state since 1995. He had been contracted to work at Swedish Medical Center through Physicians Anesthesia Services, according to NBC.
“The safety of our patients is our No. 1 priority,” hospital spokesperson Clay Holtzman told NBC 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.”
A phone message left for Zilberstein at his office was not immediately returned.
Zilberstein has 20 days to respond to the charges and request a hearing.