Med Board Suspends Pulmonologist’s License For Sexually Inappropriate Exams, Fines Ophthalmologist $40,000

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The state Medical Examining Board on Tuesday suspended the medical license of a Woodbridge pulmonologist for conducting sexually inappropriate examinations of two female patients and fined a West Hartford ophthalmologist $40,000 for failing to ensure that four patients received the correct implant during cataract surgery.

State Department of Public Health (DPH) records show that the pulmonologist, Dr. Sushil K. Gupta, conducted the inappropriate exams between 2019 and 2022. In suspending his license, the board said Gupta poses a “clear and immediate danger to the public.”

DPH records show that Gupta also violated a 2013 decision of the board that required that he have a female chaperone in the room with him when examining or treating female patients.

This is the second time that Gupta has been accused of sexually inappropriate exams of female patients. The board revoked his license in 2006 after finding that the testimony of two women was credible when they described Gupta touching them in inappropriate ways during pulmonary exams, state records show.

Gupta was arrested and a jury found him guilty of two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault in 2005, records show. He appealed the verdict, and the state Appellate Court set aside the conviction and ordered a new trial. In 2010, the state Supreme Court agreed, upholding the reversal of the conviction.

That year, a judge granted Gupta accelerated rehabilitation, a special form of probation. In 2012, Gupta completed the probation and the criminal charges were dropped, records show.

Over the objections of DPH lawyers, the board reinstated Gupta’s medical license in 2013 and placed it on probation for one year. In 2016, the board unanimously rejected a request from Gupta to drop the chaperone requirement because, his lawyer said, the restriction was keeping Gupta from gaining privileges at a hospital.

On Tuesday, in addition to the $40,000 fine, the board also reprimanded the medical license of the ophthalmologist, Dr. Duane F. Austin, for failing to comply with his Connecticut Eye Center’s “time-out” protocol and failing to review patient charts before surgery to verify that the correct lens was selected for the implant surgery, according to a consent order he signed.

Austin chose not to contest the allegations.

Dr. Robert Green, a board member, said he was pleased to see the large fine imposed in this case. He and other board members have sometimes argued at meetings that the fines imposed in some cases are too low.

“I think the civil penalty is extremely appropriate because this is a very serious matter,’’ he said.

This is the second Connecticut Eye Center ophthalmologist to be disciplined by the board in recent weeks. Last month, it fined Dr. Patrick F. Albergo from the center $15,000 for operating on the wrong eye in September 2020 and reprimanded his medical license. State records show that Albergo, who did not contest the allegation, was also cited for failing to comply with the center’s “time-out” procedures and failing to maintain adequate medical records.

In other business, the board placed the residency training permit of a former Yale School of Medicine resident on probation for two years after the resident, Dr. Ryan Smith, admitted using crystal methamphetamine and abusing alcohol in 2020, the board’s memorandum of decision said.

Smith, whose conduct at work resulted in his suspension from the Yale Primary Care Internal Medicine residency program, also admitted having an emotional disorder and mental illness since 2020 but denied that they affected his ability to safely practice medicine, the memo said.

During the probation, Smith must see a therapist and submit to random drug and alcohol tests.

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