Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of special reports by the I-Team and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about doctors accused of sexual misconduct. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s yearlong, 50-state analysis found medical boards in some states do little to inform or protect patients when doctors were found to have abused their power. Read the full national report here, and read the I-Team’s analysis of local doctors sanctioned by the Ohio Medical Board here.
In 2001, former Dayton anesthesiologist Dasharathram R. Nalabolu began keeping a log of all the female patients he saw at the Kettering pain clinic where he worked.
But not because he was thorough.
Nalabolu was under a court order to obtain a signature from each patient, verifying the patient had received written notice of the disciplinary actions taken against him by the State Medical Board of Ohio for alleged sexual misconduct.
The board had voted to permanently revoke Nalabolu’s license based on the doctor’s improper touching of seven patients.
But Nalabolu appealed the board’s decision to the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, which granted a stay of the board’s order under certain conditions, including that he provide each of his existing patients with the written notice, stop accepting new patients and have a third party present when examining female patients.
Nalabolu’s reprieve didn’t last long.
He was arrested less than six months later and ultimately convicted of three counts of sexual battery, leading to the permanent revocation of his license.
Based on Ohio medical board records of his actions prior to his arrest, the outcome was predictable.
>>>EXCLUSIVE: Ohio doctors kept practicing after sexual misconduct
According to the allegations against him, Nalabolu in June 2000 gave a female patient an injection for shoulder pain, then inserted his fingers into her vagina. When she objected, he quickly inserted his other hand. He then rubbed “all over” the patient’s body and commented on her breasts; finally she ran out of the office and went to the Centerville police.
Police had her return to his office wearing a wire.
“Why did you do it anyway?,” she asked Nalabolu, according to a transcript of the police recording.
“I don’t know. I don’t know what happened. I am very sorry, I apologize. I am not happy with myself. Forgive me, okay,” Nalabolu responded.
“You are a doctor, you should be able to trust your doctor,” the patient stated.
“I know, I understand that. I apologize for that and it will never happen again and that’s all I can say,” the doctor replied.
Nalabolu could not be reached for comment.
But his case illustrates why medical boards have long been criticized for failure to discipline licensees appropriately.
According to the Ohio board, however, medical boards are not always the ultimate arbiters in such cases.
“A (court-ordered) stay puts the Board’s Order on hold and allows the physician to continue to practice until the appeal is completed,” according to an emailed statement from Joan Wehrle, a spokeswoman for the Ohio medical board. “The Court determines if a stay will be granted and, if so, may add stipulations to the stay, such as requiring a chaperone to be present during a patient examination. If the Court denies the stay request, the Board Order is in effect during the appeal.”
>>>NATIONAL REACTION: Change needed now