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Texas Gynecologist Accused of Sexual Misconduct, Neglect

Doc accused of medical neglect and having sexual relationships with 4 patients, one of whom he was married to.

Published: January 2, 2015

A Texas gynecologist allegedly offered to impregnate a patient who was separated from her husband and wanted another child. It wasn't his only act of sexual misconduct currently under investigation by the state medical board.

Douglas Shelton, MD, called his 7-month relationship with the woman "totally and 100% inappropriate," according to court documents. During the relationship, which began in September 2009, Dr. Shelton did not charge the woman for fertility treatments or co-pays and deductibles for other procedures. In 2009, when one of his patients said she wanted a child with blonde hair and blue eyes, Shelton began having sex with her to "(serve) as a sperm donor via natural insemination," according to hearing documents.

Dr. Shelton also stands accused of inappropriate sexual relations with 3 other patients. The medical board, American Medical Association's Code of Medical Ethics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists prohibit physicians from having sexual contact with patients. Dr. Shelton fathered 2 children with one of his patients during a 2-year relationship and actually married another for a matter of months before being caught with another patient.

Dr. Shelton's troubles extend beyond questionable relationship choices. In September 2011, he left Panhandle Surgical Hospital in Amarillo in the midst of surgery, leaving the patient under anesthesia for 30 minutes, to attend to a woman in labor at Baptist St. Anthony (BSA) Hospital in Amarillo. He had induced labor an hour before starting the surgery, but did not arrange for another OB/GYN to cover for him while he was at Panhandle Surgical Hospital and did not tell the labor and delivery staff where to reach him, according to the medical board. The labor and delivery staff was apparently unable to contact him for close to 15 minutes, because his cell phone and pager did not work in the operating room.

Dr. Shelton did not examine the surgery patient in the PACU, despite her "alarming" post-op condition, according to court documents. The patient was in excruciating pain after she was transferred out of recovery, but Dr. Shelton did nothing to address her discomfort, says the medical board, which argues splitting responsibilities between 2 patients in different facilities put both patients at risk and violated the standard of care.

In 2010, Dr. Shelton performed a total laparoscopic hysterectomy on the woman he offered to impregnate. According to court documents, it was a long and difficult case, during which several pieces of equipment malfunctioned. After the procedure, members of the surgical team noticed air in the patient's Foley bag, which indicated a potential bladder injury. Dr. Shelton failed to investigate their concerns and did not perform a cystoscopy, the procedure needed to detect a bladder injury, says the medical board.

A surgeon called to consult on the woman's failure to recover fully from the hysterectomy discovered and repaired a hole in her bladder during a subsequent surgery. Dr. Shelton did not inform the surgeon of a potential injury, say court documents, even though he was aware of the possibility. Instead, a surgical team member present during the original procedure reportedly informed the consulting surgeon.

In a court document, Dr. Shelton denied all allegations levied against him. His attorney, Tim Weitz, declined to comment on the case, citing active litigation.

Medical board records show Dr. Shelton has medical privileges at Northwest Texas Healthcare System in Amarillo and the Panhandle Surgical Hospital. Spokeswomen for both did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Daniel Cook

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