Today, an Oregon anesthesiologist, Dr. David Burleson, pleaded not guilty to felony sex abuse charges. Dr. Burleson is charged with fondling two patients who had been sedated. The case represents the next step in a long process that included a legal showdown in front of the Oregon Supreme Court.
Apparently, employees of a clinic where Dr. Burleson provided care witnessed him fondling sedated patients. When subpoenaed to a grand jury, a witness refused to provide medical records identifying the victims.
The State appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court. Here is a link to the opinion: State of Oregon v. Burleson, http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/S54377.htm (June 1, 2007). The short version is that the Supreme Court ruled that the witnesses must identify the victims.
It's nice to see that the system is taking Dr. Burleson's conduct seriously. In earlier times, sexual misconduct by professionals was swept under the rug. Patients suffered, and so did the profession. Bringing professional misconduct into the light of day provides important protection to future patients. Weeding out the bad doctors helps all of us.
David F. Sugerman
Paul & Sugerman, PC