A prominent Pasadena obstetrician is facing the possible loss or suspension of his medical license following an accusation by state regulators that he made inappropriate comments about a patient’s appearance and sex life, it was reported Tuesday.
The allegation lodged last week by the Medical Board of California marks the fifth time Dr. Patrick Sutton has been accused of sexual misconduct, according to a review by the Los Angeles Times of court records and medical board files. The accusations have not been previously reported even though they were contained in publicly available records, according to the newspaper.
Sutton has denied wrongdoing in prior cases and has not yet responded to the most recent claim, The Times reported.
The 64-year-old physician is well-known in the Pasadena area, where he has practiced since 1989. He serves as chair-elect of the obstetrics and gynecology department at Huntington Memorial Hospital and has said he has delivered more than 6,000 children over his career.
Sutton did not respond to emails, phone calls or texts. An employee said Monday that the doctor was out of the office, but that she had relayed The Times’ inquiries to him.
In response to questions from The Times, Huntington President and Chief Executive Dr. Lori J. Morgan said in a statement, “I am very troubled by these allegations. Huntington Hospital takes seriously all issues of patient health and safety, and we are working closely with Medical Staff to receive updates in this matter.”
The hospital did not answer questions about why Sutton was allowed to continue practicing at the facility and whether administrators had disciplined him internally over the years.
Eileen Neuwirth, Huntington Hospital’s director of communications and brand strategy, said in a statement that under state law, internal evaluations of physicians are confidential and that Huntington is not “permitted to disclose any details about the peer review.”
Medical board and court records reviewed by The Times show complaints against Sutton dating back 20 years. They include allegations that he touched patients in a sexual manner during exams and pressed them for information about their sexual habits in graphic terms. All of the cases ended in settlements and without any admission by Sutton of sexual harassment or misconduct.
The most recent allegation against Sutton concerns a patient who sought treatment for a cyst in 2016. In a Sept. 24 medical board filing, a lawyer for the agency wrote that Sutton initially told the woman “that he really could not see ‘down there’ because she was really hairy,” a remark that made the patient uncomfortable.
“Commenting on a patient’s appearance is never appropriate in the field of gynecology,” the board lawyer wrote.
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