Nurses at an outpatient surgery clinic called the police on a doctor that was allegedly intentionally coughing on and hugging nurses. The nurses state the orthopedic surgeon repeatedly acted out in this manner in front of multiple witnesses. A representative speaking on behalf of the nurses states the physician was acting in complete disregard to “space and safety concerns involving the coronavirus pandemic.” The nurses further allege the physician was acting in a manner to intentionally cause “a substantial amount of alarm.” The doctor is not known to currently have the virus.
#1: Can these allegations actually lead to criminal charges?
Yes, these allegations can result in criminal charges. In this case the physician currently faces a criminal misdemeanor charge for breach of the peace. If convicted, he faces up to six months imprisonment or a fine.
This is not the first criminal charge to come from similar allegations, though it is the first known to involve a medical professional.
#2: Could these claims lead to other problems for the doctor?
Yes. The charges could also result in an investigation from the local medical board, potentially put the doctor’s medical license at risk for suspension or revocation.
#3: Has this impacted the physician’s employer?
The incident does not appear to have had a direct impact on the employer as yet. The employer, a university hospital, has issued a statement noting it encourages those who are feeling ill to remain at home during this pandemic. According to the statement, facility staff are also screening employees for symptoms before they are allowed to enter the hospital facilities.