A Washington state doctor’s medical license is suspended for allegedly sending sexually explicit and personal text messages from the operating room.
Dr. Aurthur Zilberstein, 48, an anesthesiologist, is said to have jeopardized the safety of at least 23 patients by engaging in sexually explicit text conversations while the patients under his care were undergoing surgery.
The doctor allegedly committed additional unprofessional conduct by arranging sexual encounters with a female patient, sending her color “selfies” depicting his genitals, and prescribing unauthorized narcotics to several patients.
According to a June 3 Statement of Charges filed by the Medical Quality Assurance Commission, Zilberstein “frequently exchanged personal and often sexually explicit text messages while on duty from at least April through August 2013.”
The complaint, which details examples of Zilberstein’s alleged on-duty activities, says the anesthesiologist was “sexting” during surgical procedures at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle ranging from caesarian sections, to spinal procedures, to cardiac surgery.
Teresa Landreau, Attorney for the Washington state Medical Commission, said reports concerning the doctor’s behavior were reported by two different complainants, both of whom are confidential.
During a child’s appendix removal surgery on June 26, 2013, Zilberstein allegedly “exchanged two text messages with explicit sexual references.”
During a patient’s July 24, 2013 surgery, Zilberstein allegedly texted his girlfriend “a description of his immediate sexual desire for her,” followed by 15 additional text messages to arrange a covert encounter with her at the hospital.
The doctor exchanged 45 text messages containing sexual innuendo during another patient’s August 6, 2013 surgery for laparoscopic fundoplasty esophagogastric repair, according to the Statement of Charges.
Dr. Bill Manion, a medical examiner and forensic pathologist in Philadelphia, said the procedure involves “bringing a piece of the tissue around the esophagus and stomach to try and anchor the esophagus.”
In total, Washington state’s health department references 241 text exchanges in which Zilberstein participated during, or within minutes of, surgical procedures for which he was the responsible anesthesiologist.
The Statement says in prescribing a patient 2,250 oxycodone hydrochloride tablets between September 13, 2011 and September 11, 2013, Zilberstein relied upon the patient to determine dosage, quantity and frequency.
The complaint further states that the doctor prescribed Schedule II, III and IV controlled substances to seven different patients despite that the particular drugs were not within the scope of his medical practice.
Zilberstein has 20 days to respond to the charges.
Landreau said at this time none of the patients who were undergoing surgery at the time of Zilberstein’s alleged texts have been notified of their connection to the charges.
“We have no indication of patient harm connected to it, as to the sexting,” Landreau said.
If charges are proven after a full hearing on the matter, sanctions could range from practice restrictions, or license suspension, to license termination.
Calls to Zilberstein’s offices requesting a response were not returned before publication of this article.