ANNAPOLIS -- An Annapolis gynecologist who was a partner in a well-known downtown practice surrendered his medical license yesterday amid allegations of having sexual relations with five patients.
Dr. Jeffrey A. Briggs, a 39-year-old physician who worked with Annapolis OB-GYN Associates, gave up his license after Maryland's medical disciplinary board investigated charges that he was having affairs with patients. He admitted to "sexual misconduct."
One former patient, a young woman from Annapolis, accused him of impregnating her and then arranging for an abortion. Four other women complained that he violated their trust by using his position to seduce or take advantage of them.
Joel Katz, an Annapolis attorney representing one of the patients, said his client was badly shaken by her relationship with Dr. Briggs.
"She feels like she has been emotionally damaged," Mr. Katz said.
The State Board of Physician Quality Assurance began an investigation after receiving a complaint 45 days ago. Earlier this week, the board voted to charge Dr. Briggs with unprofessional conduct. The Annapolis physician responded by relinquishing his license to practice in Maryland, a "plea bargain" with the board, said Executive Director J. Michael Compton.
"Our motivation in cases like this is to get him off the street as quickly as possible," said Dr. Israel Weiner, chairman of the board.
Dr. Briggs plans to eventually appear before the board to seek reinstatement, his lawyer, Gill Cochran, said yesterday.
Mr. Cochran said that his client was "emotionally distraught" over losing his license, which will bar him from treating patients anywhere in the United States. He said his client admitted that he had violated the ethical code by dating patients.
Colleagues of Dr. Briggs, who was described as a short, handsome man who enjoyed flirting with women, were taken aback by the charges.
"I was shocked," said Dr. James L. Rivers, one of Dr. Briggs' partners. "I required him to leave immediately and seek legal counsel," Dr. Rivers said. "It is my strong feeling that he ought not to practice medicine."
Annapolis OB-GYN has offices on Cathedral Street in Annapolis, a block from Anne Arundel Medical Center, where the physicians have privileges, and on Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard in Severna Park.
Dr. Briggs joined the practice in June 1986, after graduating from medical school at the University of Monterey in Monterey, Mexico, and completing his residency in the U.S. Army in Panama and later in Kansas.
He still is appealing in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court a malpractice claim he lost in February.
In that case, Theresa Van Stratum, a 36-year-old Glen Burnie woman, claimed that Dr. Briggs and Dr. James B. Haddock, another partner in the practice, performed an unnecessary hysterectomy in 1987. She was awarded $100,000 by a state arbitration panel.