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Home >  News >  February, 2012

Doctor Loses License for Touching Anesthetized Patients' Breasts

Anesthesiologist admitted to inappropriate exams of multiple women.

Published: February 1, 2012

An Arizona-based physician who has confessed to touching female patients' breasts while the women were under anesthesia has surrendered his license and no longer works as an anesthesiologist.

Christopher Church, MD, admitted touching the breasts of an anesthetized female patient after a July 9, 2010 surgery, according to Arizona Medical Board records. Dr. Church reportedly told the board that the patient had not disclosed in her pre-op history that she had previously undergone breast reduction surgery. According to board documents, Dr. Church noticed the patient's scars and examined them, neglecting to record this examination in the patient's medical record. After allowing that the exam "may not have been appropriate," Dr. Church said that "similar events" might have occurred with 3 or 4 other patients throughout his 12-year career as an anesthesiologist, according to the board.

The Arizona Medical Board's investigation into Dr. Church, who most recently worked at Glendale-based Arizona Anesthesia Consultants, began after learning from an Arizona hospital that it had recommended suspension of Dr. Church's clinical privileges for touching the breasts of an anesthetized patient.

Based upon those allegations, Dr. Church was subsequently ordered to undergo a psychosexual evaluation, which was "unable to incorporate or exclude a diagnosis of sexual disorder," according to board documents. Dr. Church's diagnosis was inconclusive regarding the inappropriate touching of patients' breasts.

Dr. Church was found to have deviated from the standard of care for administration of anesthesia, which requires the anesthesiologist to forego exams not indicated for the management of the patient's intraoperative or immediate post-operative course. Dr. Church admitted to engaging in unprofessional conduct, and voluntarily agreed to the suspension of his privileges.

Arizona Anesthesia Consultants declined to comment for this story.

Mark McGraw

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