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By JEFF D’ALESSIO firstname.lastname@example.org
ELIZABETHTOWN — A local OB/GYN in Elizabethtown is facing restrictions in his practice after a complaint was filed last week charging him with having sexual relations with a patient as well as three employees at his former practice, records show.
In a complaint filed June 17 with the state Board of Medical Licensure, Dr. Michael S. Nethers of Heartland Woman’s Healthcare on Woodland Drive is accused of engaging in a sexual relation with a patient that started in 2005 and lasted two years.
The patient told a Board investigator that during the course of her second pregnancy, she shared with Dr. Nethers various marital problems and personal issues she was experiencing relating to her childhood. The patient said Dr. Nethers would “often hug and caress her’’ during these discussions.
Six months after the birth of the child, the patient again became pregnant and the level of personal touching from Nethers increased, the complaint states.
In the filing, the patient said Nethers contacted her in March 2005 on her cell phone and shortly thereafter a sexual relationship began. The patient told an investigator that at each office visit, there would be some form of sexual contact between her and Nethers and that on some occasions, the contact occurred after office hours.
A review of telephone records indicates between February 2006 and 2008, the patient and Nethers engaged in 340 telephone calls, the complaint said.
In August 2006, the patient complained of back pain and contractions. Nethers augmented her labor although nurses at the hospital recommended she return home. The child was born at 35 weeks and six days and suffered respiratory distress. The child, a girl, was taken to Kosair Children’s Hospital and placed on a ventilator and feeding tube.
The patient told the investigator that Nethers went to Kosair and apologized for not delaying the birth. The sexual relationship between the patient and Nethers continued after the birth and the complaint states that Nethers urged the patient to get a tubal ligation that he performed.
The patient, after being confronted by her husband in 2008, admitted to a relationship with Nethers and reported it to other caregivers.
While being treated by Dr. Aimee Paul in April of 2008, the patient said she was dissatisfied with Nethers performing a Novasure endometrial ablation when she didn’t fully understand the procedure. In September 2008, the patient underwent a laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy with good results, she said.
A Board consultant reviewed Nethers’ treatment of the patient during her third pregnancy and regarding the endometrial ablation and found no violations of standard of care, the complaint states.
“Dr. Nethers has denied all the allegations,’’ said his co-counsel, Chad Elder. “Generally, we are hearing just one side of the case to the board.’’
Also in the complaint, three employees at Elizabethtown Physicians for Women say they engaged in sexual relations with Nethers, a former stockholder in the practice, during what appears to be a four-year span.
An investigation by the practice indicated that an employee had a sexual relationship with Nethers from 1997 through 2000. The complaint states that Nethers first denied there was sexual contact, but later admitted to the staff that he had engaged in sexual activity with the staff member “hundreds of times” at his home, her home and other locations around Hardin County.
In a letter dated June 30, 2000, Nethers acknowledged having a relationship with the employee. The employee later reached a settlement with EPW and Nethers for $45,000.
A second EPW employee said shortly after Nethers treated her for an ulcer on her back, they went to lunch together during their work day and that Nethers drove to a local park where they had sex. A year is not listed when the incident is alleged to have occurred.
A third employee at EPW said in 1997 Nethers invited her to his home where they had sex.
The complaint states that Nethers violated three Kentucky statutes and accordingly, legal grounds exist for disciplinary action against Dr. Nethers’ Kentucky medical license.
Nethers is alleged to have violated ethical standards including “engaging in dishonorable, unethical, or unprofessional conduct of a character likely to deceive, defraud or harm the public; conduct which is calculated or has the effect of bringing the medical profession into disrepute, including but not limited to any departure from, or failure to conform to the standards of acceptable and prevailing medical practice within the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and any departure from, or failure to conform to the principles of medical ethics of the American Medical Association or the code of ethics of the American Osteopathic Association.”
Among the restrictions placed on Nethers are no interaction with female patients unless accompanied by an approved chaperon; maintaining a log documenting each patient seen with a chaperon and the name, title and location of the chaperon utilized; if Nethers is called upon to see a female patient at the hospital, he may treat that patient so long as a female member of the hospital staff is present and is able to hear and see all interactions between doctor and patient.”
A hearing on the complaint is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Oct. 6 at the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure in Louisville.
Jeff D’Alessio can be reached at (270) 505-1757.