Medical Boards and Fitness to Practice: The Case of Teleka Patrick, MD
Katrina A. Bramstedt
Background: Medical boards and fitness-to-practice committees aim to ensure that medical students and physicians have “good moral character” and are not impaired in their practice of medicine.
Method: Presented here is an ethical analysis of stalking behavior by physicians and medical students, with focus on the case of Teleka Patrick, MD (a psychiatry resident practicing medicine while under a restraining order due to her alleged stalking behavior).
Conclusions: While a restraining order is not generally considered a criminal conviction, stalking behavior is clearly unprofessional and a marker of inappropriate character and fitness, yet the reporting obligations for such matters are complex. Medical schools and training programs that fail to assess, record, and report matters of moral conduct such as this potentially allow impaired students to graduate and enter the work force (unless a robust licensing process identifies them). Patrick’s case should be a wake-up call for medical schools and medical boards to better integrate the professionalism domain into their operations. Further, the professionalism of students and doctors need to be integrated into the legal domain, so that those who are unfit to practice are, in fact, prevented from doing so. Guidance for integration is provided.
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