Doc Tales

While the state board that regulates medical doctors is still going easy on its own, the board that oversees osteopaths continues to crack down on its doctors.

The Arizona Board of Medical Examiners (BOMEX) last week angered Governor Jane Hull when it refused to reconsider its mild treatment of a pediatrician who's also an admitted child molester.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Board of Osteopathic Examiners (OBEX) yanked the license of a Gilbert physician who assaulted his wife.

BOMEX, the troubled board that regulates the state's 15,000 medical doctors, is allowing Dr. Mark Patton to continue to practice even though, according to board records, Patton admitted molesting his wife's sister when she was 12 and 13. BOMEX placed Patton on probation, rather than take harsher action. At a hastily called meeting held last week, BOMEX voted against the governor's request.

In response, Hull asked the Attorney General's Office to file a formal motion for the board to review its actions. "It is unconscionable that a child molester would be permitted to practice pediatric medicine," the motion states. "Yet that is exactly what occurred when the board merely placed [Patton] on probation."

Stuart Goodman, an aide to Hull, says the governor was "disappointed" in the board and hopes it takes the formal motion more seriously. Goodman says BOMEX's vote on Patton belies claims that the troubled agency has improved its performance. BOMEX, which does not discipline doctors in 90 percent of all cases, has long been criticized as too easy on physicians. (See "The BOMEX Files," May 7, 1998.)

"Their decision here certainly brings back some old questions that some people thought had been laid to rest," Goodman says.

On the same day BOMEX put Patton on probation, across town in Scottsdale, OBEX revoked the license of Dr. Jerold "Rick" Morgan for a 1995 assault on his former wife. The decision overturned the finding of an administrative law judge who recommended no discipline for Morgan because the doctor was upset about his then-wife's affair. (See "The Doctor Is In, the Verdict Is Out," September 24, 1998.)

OBEX ruled that Morgan "engaged in unprofessional conduct" and could present a danger to patient health. Morgan thumbcuffed his wife to the steering wheel of their Chevy Suburban after he'd taped a call between her and another man. He aimed a gun loaded with hollowpoint bullets at her head, threatened to kill her and himself and shoved the gun into her vagina. Morgan pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated assault in 1997 and served six months in jail.

Morgan, who says his wife cuffed herself as part of a "sex game," has sometimes denied the assault ever happened and at other times admitted responsibility for it.

At the OBEX hearing, a defense psychiatrist testified that Morgan presented no threat to his patients. However, the board found that the felony was enough to show that Morgan "is medically and/or psychologically unable to safely and skillfully engage in the practice of medicine."

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