Pulmonologist Who Molested Patients To Get Hearing On License Reinstatement

A Woodbridge pulmonologist who lost his medical license for inappropriate sexual contact during the medical exams of two women has been granted the right to a hearing on whether his license should be reinstated.

The state Medical Examining Board voted Tuesday to hold a hearing on whether Dr. Sushil Gupta should be allowed to practice medicine.

Gupta, who has not practiced for the past seven years, apologized in writing to the board and the women in November when he asked for his license back. He also wrote that he had completed courses on “professional boundaries” and would not see any female patients without a chaperone. State records show he has been helping to run the business side of the Hamden Sleep Disorders Center.

Dr. Leslie M. Lothstein, a West Hartford clinical psychologist, wrote in support of restoring Gupta’s license, with protections in place. He also concluded that Gupta was not a sexual predator.

But Tuesday, state Department of Public Health staff attorney David Tilles recommended against a hearing.

In 2008, the board had refused to grant Gupta a reinstatement hearing.  The case began in 2004 when a female employee and two female patients accused Gupta of sexual misconduct during medical exams. A medical board hearing found that the testimony of the employee and one of the patients was credible. The third woman did not testify.

State records show the employee stated that Gupta had massaged her breasts during an exam and said they were soft and beautiful. She said that Gupta then asked to kiss her breasts and she said no. During the same exam, she said, he also pulled down her pants, touched her pubic area and said she was “hot,” state records show.

The state hearing panel found there was no legitimate medical reason for Gupta to have massaged the breasts of the two women or touched the employee’s pubic area during pulmonary exams.

Gupta had also been arrested, and a jury found him guilty of two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault in 2005, state records show. He appealed the verdict, and the state Appellate Court set aside the conviction and ordered a new trial.

That decision was appealed to the state Supreme Court, which in 2010 upheld the Appellate Court decision. That year, a judge granted Gupta accelerated rehabilitation, a special form of probation.  In July 2012, Gupta completed probation and the criminal charges were dismissed, state records show.

In other business Tuesday, the board extended its investigation of Dr. Tory Westbrook of Glastonbury for 120 days so that a hearing can be held in February. Westbrook has been accused of sexually assaulting three female patients at the Community Health Center in Clinton and having an inappropriate relationship with a fourth patient.

The board also fined Dr. Leslie Domalik $7,500 for prescribing an anti-diabetic drug over the phone to a patient that a health department consultant found was double the appropriate starting dose.

At the time, in 2009, Domalik worked at the William Backus Hospital in Norwich. Her lawyer, Wayne Tillinghast, said Tuesday she teaches endocrinology at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester. Connecticut state records show that Domalik chose not to contest the allegation.

The board also reprimanded Dr. Adil Mulla, an anesthesiologist at Danbury Hospital, for giving a patient an anesthetic to numb the wrong knee before surgery. Mulla quickly discovered the error, reported it and took full responsibility for injecting the left knee of a patient who was about to have surgery on the right knee, records show. DPH records show the hospital responded to the 2011 incident by instituting “timeout” procedures before such drugs are given.

The board also reprimanded Dr. Marc Aronson, a Middletown psychiatrist, for giving a patient a “mildly toxic” dose of Tegretol, a drug used to treat seizures and bipolar disorder, records show. A DPH consultant concluded the starting dose was too high for outpatient treatment and that Aronson lacked records to justify the dose. Aronson agreed to the reprimand in a consent order.