Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Doctor faces suspended license over patient relationship

ST. PETERSBURG — A St. Petersburg physician could soon see his license to practice medicine suspended indefinitely. A complaint against Dr. Richard D. Whitten, who has had privileges at St. Anthony's Hospital, alleges that the family practice physician engaged last year in a sexual relationship with a female patient.

Details of any disciplinary action by the state's Board of Medicine against Whitten, 44, have yet to be finalized. The board on Saturday rejected a settlement agreement between Whitten and the Department of Health, which lodged the complaint, instead submitting a counteroffer to both parties.

Before Saturday's hearing in Orlando, Whitten had agreed to submit to sanctions including a reprimand, paying a $10,000 fine, plus costs associated with the investigation, and a probationary period of up to five years.

On Saturday, the board amended the state's allegations against Whitten, who practiced family medicine, and the proposed disciplinary action.

In addition to the original charge that Whitten used his influence in a physician-patient relationship to engage in sexual activity, the board also alleged that Whitten violated another statute against physicians whose practices are impaired by their use of alcohol or other drugs.

According to the complaint, Whitten's trouble began in June 2010 when a patient he had been treating since February confessed she had developed "feelings" for him. This patient had been referred to Whitten following her attempted suicide and hospitalization for depression.

A sexual relationship began and continued until August 2010, when Whitten ended the relationship. The woman subsequently attempted suicide and was hospitalized under the Baker Act.

Under the counteroffer returned by the board, Whitten would pay the $10,000 fine and $4,612 in investigative and legal costs. He would not undergo probation, but the board would retain jurisdiction to impose conditioned terms of reinstatement, Department of Health spokeswoman Jennifer Hirst said.

Whitten's license would be suspended until the board reinstates it. Before that could happen, he would have to convince a peer network that he can practice with skill and safety to patients.

Whitten and the health department have seven days to decide whether they will accept the board's counteroffer. If the parties reject it, the case would go to a hearing before coming back to the board.

Neither Whitten nor his lawyer, Jon M. Pellett, could be reached for comment for this story. In an Oct. 28 letter to the Board of Medicine, Pellett said Whitten had withdrawn voluntarily from practicing medicine. Whitten was under a psychiatrist's care, Pellett wrote, and "will not be returning to practice for the foreseeable future."

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or ameacham@sptimes.com.

Doctor faces suspended license over patient relationship 12/03/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 3, 2011 10:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Kushner to testify before two intelligence committees

    Politics

    WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is set to make a second appearance on Capitol Hill — he will speak with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, one day after he is scheduled to speak with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators behind closed doors.

    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. [Associated Press]
  3. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  4. Exhumation of Dalí's remains finds his mustache still intact

    World

    FIGUERES, Spain — Forensic experts in Spain have removed hair, nails and two long bones from Salvador Dalí's embalmed remains to aid a court-ordered paternity test that may enable a woman who says she is the surrealist artist's daughter to claim part of Dalí's vast estate.

    Salvador Dal? died in 1989 leaving vast estate.
  5. Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador, U.S. intelligence intercepts show

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — Russia's ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, current and former U.S. …

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation after meetings with an ambassador were revealed.