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Gresham gynecologist gives up license

Douglas M. Blatchford won't practice medicine again in state

Longtime gynecologist Douglas M. Blatchford has agreed to surrender his medical license and never practice in Oregon under orders from the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners.

A state investigation into allegations that Blatchford, a 63-year-old Gresham obstetrician and gynecologist, engaged in sexual misconduct with 13 patients concluded that Blatchford's 'unprofessional or dishonorable conduct' and his 'willful violation or failure to comply with a Board order' violated the Medical Practice Act.

As a result, the board ordered on Thursday, June 22, that Blatchford surrender his medical license and never reapply.

The move, in effect, prevents Blatchford, a Boring resident, from ever practicing medicine in the state. And because the state's order will be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank - containing disciplinary information on physicians from across the United States and its territories - the order also prevents him from practicing medicine anywhere in the country, said Kathleen Haley, Oregon board of Medical Examiners executive director.

Originally, four women complained of sexual misconduct to the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners Office, which launched an investigation last July into allegations dating back to 1985.

But since October, when the board reiterated a previous order that Blatchford have a chaperone present for all examinations, nine more women have filed complaints.

One complaint was from a woman who reported that Blatchford raped her during an exam when she was 19. Other women complained of everything from kissing to inappropriate sexual touching and sexually suggestive comments, to Blatchford having sexual relationships with patients he was treating.

Haley said the order is the most severe action the board could have taken against Blatchford, who had practiced medicine in Oregon since 1969. Had the board revoked his license, Blatchford could have reapplied in two years.

Blatchford also agreed to waive his right to a hearing before an administrative law judge and to any appeal of the board's disciplinary order, according to terms of the order.

He practiced full time in Gresham since the early 1990s and was working at Gresham Obstetrics and Gynecology P.C., located on the campus of Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center in the 24800 block of Southeast Stark Street, last July when the state launched its investigation.

Initially, investigators looked into claims that Blatchford inappropriately sexually touched two patients during exams and paid two patients to close malpractice claims filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court. Both lawsuits accused Blatchford of sexual misconduct, including sexual relationships with two patients, as well as inappropriate care.

According to a stipulated order effective June 22, Blatchford admitted initiating sexual contact with a female patient during a gynecological exam in 1990, continuing to engage in sexual contact with the woman during subsequent clinical visits and having a sexual relationship with her for about a year. All the while he continued to act as the woman's doctor.

The woman later sued Blatchford for damages associated with the sexual relationship. In 1995, Blatchford paid to settle the case out of court.

However, Blatchford denied the other allegations - despite paying $80,000 in 2001 for an out-of-court settlement when a patient who reported having sexual contact with Blatchford sued him for stapling her ureter during a 1992 surgery. The staple obstructed the tube connecting her kidney to her bladder. He also removed one of her ovaries, a fallopian tube and performed a hysterectomy to treat the woman's abdominal discomfort.

In addition to medical malpractice, she sued Blatchford for a lack of informed consent. Informed consent is when a doctor fully explains a surgery, risks and alternatives to a patient. But a patient having a sexual relationship with his or her doctor can't provide such consent because it is assumed the doctor's objectivity would be affected, creating a conflict between the doctor's interests and the patient's treatment.

It's also why such relationships are prohibited, and why when they do occur, the doctor is to refer the patient to another doctor for treatment.

As part of the initial investigation, the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners in July ordered Blatchford to not treat any female patients older than 12 without a chaperone. He also was ordered not to date or have sexual relationships with patients or former patients.

But Blatchford allegedly failed to obey the order and lied to the board about it. So in October, the state board reiterated its order.

Around the same time, Blatchford retired effective Oct. 28, 2005. In November, he agreed to not practice medicine until he receiving written notice to resume practice from the board.

Stunned by news of the allegations, friends, family, colleagues and patients rallied around Blatchford and his family, praising him as a doctor and citizen.

Media reports of the investigation, however, led nine more women to come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct. Two months ago, an East Multnomah County woman filed a half-million dollar lawsuit alleging that Blatchford touched her breasts in a 'sexually inappropriate manner' during two gynecological exams in 2004 and 2005. The case has yet to be resolved.