Doctors Who Sexually Abused Patients Reinstated by Medical Board: L.A. Times Report

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Doctors Who Sexually Abused Patients Reinstated by Medical Board: L.A. Times Report

Doctors Who Sexually Abused Patients Reinstated by Medical Board: L.A. Times Report

Dec 16, 2021

* Update as of December 30, 2021 Following the original story in the Los Angeles Times referenced in DLG’s blog below, a new story has confirmed that an emergency room nurse filed a civil lawsuit against another physician – Dr. Anshul Gandhi of Cedars-Sinai medical center in Los Angeles – alleging she was drugged at a bar and later followed home where she was sexually assaulted.

According to the Los Angeles Times’ report, three additional women from Cedars-Sinai came forward with similar allegations against Gandhi, an emergency room physician. Court documents confirm that prosecutors eventually charged him with felony sexual battery of four women. Though some of those original criminal charges have reportedly been reduced or dismissed, Gandhi still faces two counts of sexual battery. He has pleaded not guilty, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Following the charges against Gandhi, the Los Angeles Times confirmed that although the Medical Board of California deemed him an “extreme danger to the public” and could have suspended his license, they instead convinced a judge to prohibit him from practicing as a condition of his bail.

In November, however, the L.A. Times confirmed that Dr. Gandhi became eligible to practice medicine as he awaits trial on multiple sexual assault charges. Furthermore, the Times reports that “any reference to the court order and criminal case stemming from the alleged sexual abuse has been scrubbed from his profile on the [Medical] board’s website.”

The scary part is that there’s nothing on the Medical Board’s website about this doctor,” Marian Hollingsworth, co-founder of the Patient Safety League, an advocacy group, told the Los Angeles Times. “If the information isn’t there, [the board is] failing in their job to protect patients. That’s what bothers me.”

An investigative report released Wednesday by the Los Angeles Times details numerous instances of doctors being reinstated by the California Medical Board despite sexually abusing patients. According to the Times investigation, since 2013, 10 California doctors have successfully regained their licenses after losing them for sexual misconduct.

The state medical board, which has long battled allegations that it goes easy on bad doctors and fails to protect patients, reinstated more than half of all sex abusers who sought to get their licenses back, a rate significantly higher than for doctors who lost their licenses for all other reasons,” the Los Angeles Times’ report confirmed following a review of board data.

Sexual contact of any kind with a patient violates the physician’s code of ethics per both the American Medical Association and California state law, according to the Times.

The following area doctors were featured in the L.A. Times report:

Dr. Esmail Nadjmabadi: Medical Board records indicate that the Bakersfield internist sexually abused a female patient on the pretext of a colon cancer screening. The Medical Board of California accused Nadjmabadi of then persuading a female staff member to lie to police about being in the room. Subsequently, the doctor reported the female patient and her husband – both undocumented immigrants from Mexico – to immigration officials in an effort to make them “unavailable” to investigators, according to Medical Board records.

Five additional female patients (one of whom, according to the L.A. Times’ report, was in her mid-teens at the time of the incident) reported similar sexual misconduct by Nadjmabadi to police as well as state regulators. He pleaded no contest to a criminal charge of sexual exploitation by a physician involving two or more women in 2009, surrendering his license in 2010, according to the L.A. Times.

Five years later, the Medical Board granted Nadjmabadi’s petition for reinstatement.

Dr. Zachary Cosgrove: The Bakersfield family practitioner reportedly slept with three female patients. When they reported his misconduct to authorities, the L.A. Times investigation indicated Cosgrove turned violent. According to the Times, he “kicked and punched one, threw furniture at another and told the third, ‘You’d better just kill yourself… That’s going to hurt less than what I’m going to do to you.'”

Cosgrove admitted to the allegations as part of his petition to be reinstated. He is currently practicing medicine.

Dr. Hari M. Reddy: The Victorville family practitioner inappropriately touched two teenage patients during exams and harassed one at home after hours, according to Medical Board records.

Reddy is, like Cosgrove, currently practicing medicine, the Los Angeles Times’ report confirms.

Dr. Shahab “Sean” Ataee: The former Fountain Valley physician was convicted of sexual abuse in 2001 in New York for “groping the daughter of a patient in an intensive care unit,” according to the Times. In uncovering records from the California Medical Board, the Times discovered that Ataee “fondled the woman’s breasts and attempted to shove his hands down her pants.”

After being convicted in New York, Ataee applied on three different occasions for a California medical license – rejected each time by the Board citing sexual abuse. Board records indicate that the third application led to an administrative law judge noting Ataee had “continued to adamantly deny having committed any sexual offense” and “had not made a sufficient showing of rehabilitation.

For his fourth application in California, however, Ataee enrolled in an intensive sex offender treatment program and follow-up therapy, according to the Times. The Times also notes that Ataee’s plan in applying a fourth time was to allow a “chaperone in the room whenever he treated women.”

The Board granted him a California medical license in 2009.

But by April of 2012, Ataee was hit with a lawsuit alleging sexual battery. According to the claim, the doctor “moved his fingers around” the pubic area of a female patient while she was on the exam table. The woman didn’t realize Ataee wasn’t wearing gloves until she “saw him sniff his fingers,” according to the lawsuit.

The Times confirmed that, although Ataee never admitted to the allegations, the owner of the clinic (unaware of the doctor’s New York sexual misconduct conviction) paid $1 million to settle the suit.

The Medical Board revoked Ataee’s license in 2019 following multiple additional complaints of sexual misconduct being reported.

According to the Times’ report, the California Medical Board – comprised primarily of physicians – relies “heavily on a doctor’s evidence of rehabilitation, usually with the testimony of therapists hired by the doctor, and no input from the patients who were harmed.”

Board President Kristina Lawson offered the following quote to the Times in a recent interview:

My colleagues on the Medical Board, 100% of them, are dedicated and committed to protecting California consumers. It’s the number one, top-of-mind consideration for all of them in all of the work that they do.

As the Times’ report notes, once a doctor’s license has been revoked, the Medical Board is in no way required to reinstate it.

Of the 17 physicians who lost the licenses due to sexual misconduct, 10 were reinstated, according to the Times’ investigation – a rate of nearly 60%.

By contrast, as the Times’ investigation noted, “47 of the 105 doctors who lost their licenses for all other reasons – fraud, substance abuse, gross negligence – got theirs back, a rate of 45%.

The Times investigation goes on to cite numerous additional examples of sexual misconduct, violence, and other questionable behavior on the part of the doctors listed above. Dr. Cosgrove, for example, was “arrested for making a felony terrorist threat, felony assault with intent to cause great bodily injury, and felony witness intimidation” according to the Times, and pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of dissuading a witness.

To read the full investigative report by the Los Angeles Times, click here.

To check your doctor’s background using the Medical Board of California’s license verification search engine, click here.

Filing a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Against a Doctor

If you’ve been sexually abused by a physician, a civil lawsuit can be a means of securing justice on your own terms. Moreover, a civil claim can help a sexual abuse survivor recover critical financial compensation for various damages, such as:

  • Emotional trauma
  • Psychological harm
  • Counseling or therapy costs
  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Diminished quality of life

For a free, confidential, and no obligation with a sexual abuse lawyer from Dordulian Law Group (DLG), contact us today at 818-322-4056. DLG’s SAJE Team offers sexual abuse survivors a unique form of legal representation that includes access to added resources.

There is never any fee until we recover maximum financial compensation for your claim, and we’re available to answer any questions you may have 24/7.

DLG was founded by Sam Dordulian, a former sex crimes prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County. DLG’s dedicated and proven attorneys have helped injured victims secure more than $100,000,000 while maintaining a 98% success rate.

When you’re ready to come forward and report a negligent doctor for sexual abuse, we’re here to listen, to believe you, and to fight aggressively to help you secure the justice you deserve.

Go See Sam