California Medical Board Reprimands
William P. Dunne, M.D.
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
In 2015, the Medical Board of California charged William P. Dunne, M.D., with negligence and unprofessional conduct in regard to a female patient. The Accusation (shown below) alleges that during a 2-month period in which they were having a sexual relationship, he diagnosed her with "probable hypothyroidism" and treated her with Armour Thyroid without without obtaining the laboratory tests necessary to establish a diagnosis. The case was settled with a consent agreement under which Dunne was reprimanded and ordered to take courses in ethics and professional boundaries.
KAMALA D. HARRIS
Attorney General of California
E. A. JONES III
Supervising Deputy Attorney General
State Bar No. 71375
California Department of Justice
300 So. Spring Street, Suite 1702
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Telephone: (213) 897-2543
Facsimile: (213) 897-9395
Attorneys for Complainant
MEDICAL BOARD OF CALIFORNIA
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS
STATE OF CALIFORNIA
In the Matter of the Accusation Against:
WILLIAM P. DUNNE, M.D.
1. Kimberly Kirchmeyer (Complainant) brings this Accusation solely in her official capacity as the Executive Director of the Medical Board of California, Department of Consumer Affairs (Board).
2. On or about June 25, 1996, the Medical Board issued Physician's and Surgeon's Certificate No. A 60416 to William P. Dunne, M.D. (Respondent). The Physician's and Surgeon's Certificate was in full force and effect at all times relevant to the charges brought herein and will expire on February 29, 2016, unless renewed.
3. This Accusation is brought before the Board under the authority of the following laws. All section references are to the Business and Professions Code (Code) unless otherwise indicated.
4. Section 2227 of the Code provides that a licensee who is found guilty under the Medical Practice Act may have his or her license revoked, suspended for a period not to exceed one year, placed on probation and required to pay the costs of probation monitoring, or such other action taken in relation to discipline as the Board deems proper.
5. Section 2234 of the Code, states:
"The board shall take action against any licensee who is charged with unprofessional conduct. In addition to other provisions of this article, unprofessional conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:
"(a) Violating or attempting to violate, directly or indirectly, assisting in or abetting the violation of, or conspiring to violate any provision of this chapter.
"(b) Gross negligence.
"(c) Repeated negligent acts. To be repeated, there must be two or more negligent acts or omissions. An initial negligent act or omission followed by a separate and distinct departure from the applicable standard of care shall constitute repeated negligent acts.
"(1) An initial negligent diagnosis followed by an act or omission medically appropriate for that negligent diagnosis of the patient shall constitute a single negligent act.
"(2) When the standard of care requires a change in the diagnosis, act, or omission that constitutes the negligent act described in paragraph (1 ), including, but not limited to, a reevaluation of the diagnosis or a change in treatment, and the licensee's conduct departs from the applicable standard of care, each departure constitutes a separate and distinct breach of the standard of care.
"(e) The commission of any act involving dishonesty or corruption which is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a physician and surgeon.
"(f) Any action or conduct which would have warranted the denial of a certificate.
"(g) The practice of medicine from this state into another state or country without meeting the legal requirements of that state or country for the practice of medicine. Section 2314 shall not apply to this subdivision. This subdivision shall become operative upon the implementation of the
proposed registration program described in Section 2052.5.
"(h) The repeated failure by a certificate holder, in the absence of good cause, to attend and participate in an interview by the board. This subdivision shall only apply to a certificate holder who is the subject of an investigation by the board."
6. Unprofessional conduct under 2234 of the Code is conduct which breaches the rules or ethical code of the medical profession, or conduct which is unbecoming to a member in good standing of the medical profession, and which demonstrates an unfitness to practice medicine. (Shea v. Board of Medical Examiners (1978) 81 Cal.App.3d 564, 575.)
7. Section 726 of the Code states:
"The commission of any act of sexual abuse, misconduct, or relations with a patient, client, or customer constitutes unprofessional conduct and grounds for disciplinary action for any person licensed under this division, under any initiative act referred to in this division and under Chapter 17 (commencing with Section 9000) of Division 3.
"This section shall not apply to sexual contact between a physician and surgeon and his or her spouse or person in an equivalent domestic relationship when that physician and surgeon provides medical treatment, other than psychotherapeutic treatment, to his or her spouse or person in an equivalent domestic relationship."
FIRST CAUSE FOR DISCIPLINE
(Repeated Negligent Acts)
8. Respondent William P. Dunne, M.D. is subject to disciplinary action under section 2234, subdivision (d), of the Code in that Respondent engaged in repeated negligent acts in the care and treatment of a patient. The circumstances are as follows:
A. On or about October 14, 2012, Respondent began an intimate, sexual relationship with M.L. They saw each other about twice a week thereafter, continuing the sexual relationship through in or around mid-December 2012.
B. On or about October 27, 2012, Respondent performed a history and physical exam of M.L. when he met with her at a location other than his office. Respondent noted in the chart that M.L. had a chief complaint of cold intolerance, constipation, weight gain and malaise/fatigue for several years. He noted that she had failed to follow up with a prior treating physician. He noted a brief exam of the patient's eyes, neck, heart, lungs, abdomen and extremities. His assessment and plan indicated "probable hypothyroidism" with a recommendation of a trial of Armour Thyroid 15 mg. The patient was to obtain prior treating records as soon as possible and undergo testing within four to six weeks, including a TSH/T4 test.
C. On or about October 29, 2012, patient M.L. filled a prescription from Respondent for Armour Thyroid 15 mg #30 at a Rite Aid pharmacy.
D. On or about November 2 and 3, 2012, Respondent and M.L. spent a romantic weekend on Catalina Island.
E. On or about November 16, 2012, Respondent called in another prescription for Armour Thyroid 15 mg #30 (with 4 refills) to a CVS pharmacy.
F. On or about November 18, 2012, Respondent's prescription for Armour Thyroid 15 mg #30 was filled at a Rite Aide Pharmacy.
G. On or about November 28, 2012, a prescription by Respondent for patient M.L. for Armour Thyroid 15 mg #30 was filled at a CVS pharmacy.
H. On or about December 1, 2012, a prescription by Respondent for patient M.L. for Armour Thyroid 15 mg #30 was filled at a Rite Aid pharmacy.
I. On or about December 3, 2012, patient M.L. sent Respondent an email requesting an adjustment of the thyroid hormone and seeking advice regarding testing.
J. On or about December 5, 2012, Respondent sent an email to patient M.L. noting that he was concerned about her medical condition and mental state. He referenced the patient's threats which he termed inappropriate. He indicated that the thyroid medication may have caused her to by hypomanic and advised her to stop the medicine immediately or cut the dose until laboratory testing was available. He noted that she had filled 120 doses in a month and that she had admitted to taking more than his recommended dose. He stated that she must get lab testing and follow up at a clinic such as Saban Clinic. He indicated that he would no longer provide any medical care to her in the future and directed her to transfer her care to another provider within 30 days. He asked her to cease electronic communications with him immediately.
K. On or about December 10, 2012, Respondent sent an email to patient M.L. stating that he had mailed her a lab order a week prior. He again advised her that she should seek another provider for her medical care or go to a community clinic. He said he would no longer provide her prescriptions.
L. On or about December 18, 2012, patient M.L. filed a complaint with the Medical Board about Respondent.
Allegations of Repeated Negligent Acts
M. Respondent departed from the standard of care and engaged in a negligent act when he had sexual relations with patient M.L.
N. Respondent departed from the standard of care and engaged in a negligent act when he prescribed Armour Thyroid to patient M.L. without having first established a definitive diagnosis of hypothyroidism by laboratory testing.
SECOND CAUSE FOR DISCIPLINE
9. Respondent William P. Dunne, M.D. is subject to disciplinary action under section 726 of the Code in that Respondent committed acts of sexual abuse, misconduct, or relations with a patient. The circumstances are as follows:
A. The facts and circumstances alleged in paragraph 8 above are incorporated here as if fully set forth.
THIRD CAUSE FOR DISCIPLINE
10. Respondent William P. Dunne, M.D. is subject to disciplinary action under section 2234 of the Code in that Respondent engaged in unprofessional conduct. The circumstances are as follows:
A. The facts and circumstances alleged in paragraph 8 and 9 above are incorporated here as if fully set forth.
WHEREFORE, Complainant requests that a hearing be held on the matters herein alleged, and that following the hearing, the Medical Board of California issue a decision:
1. Revoking or suspending Physician's and Surgeon's Certificate Number A 60416, issued to William P. Dunne, M.D.;
2. Revoking, suspending or denying approval of his authority to supervise physician assistants, pursuant to section 3527 of the Code;
3. If placed on probation, ordering him to pay the Board the costs of probation monitoring; and
4. Taking such other and further action as deemed necessary and proper.
DATED: August 26, 2015
Medical Board of California
Department of Consumer Affairs
State of California
This page was posted on October 14, 2016