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Gynecologist's license suspended


The state's medical discipline board has suspended a Baltimore gynecologist's license to practice medicine pending further review of 12 patients' allegations of sexual misconduct.

The patients accused Dr. Mohammad R. Farzanfar, a doctor in practice for 30 years, of trying to sexually arouse them after conducting Pap smears, pelvic exams and other medical procedures.

One patient quoted Dr. Farzanfar as saying he "was waiting to do this for years," while another said the gynecologist wanted to know why her husband couldn't satisfy her. Several of the women said they had been patients for many years before Dr. Farzanfar did anything inappropriate and that his conduct began to change in the last few years, according to documents released by the state board.

The action by the Board of Physician Quality Assurance, made public yesterday, constitutes an emergency suspension -- an unusual step intended to protect patients from the possibility of harm pending a hearing.

The board voted on the suspension Wednesday and scheduled the hearing Aug. 29.

"If proven, the respondent's conduct toward these 12 patients would constitute immoral and unprofessional conduct in the practice of medicine," the board said in its ruling. Allowing Dr. Farzanfar to practice during the period before a final decision would "pose a grave risk and an imminent danger" if the charges are true, it said.

Yesterday, lawyers for Dr. Farzanfar failed to obtain a temporary restraining order that would have kept the doctor's license in effect. The lawyers argued that the board violated Dr. Farzanfar's constitutional right to due process by taking action before witnesses could be heard under oath and cross-examined.

Senior U.S. District Judge Herbert F. Murray denied the request for a temporary injunction. But the doctor's lawyers still are seeking to have the judge rule the board's action unconstitutional and reinstate Dr. Farzanfar's license.

Gregory L. VanGeison, one of three attorneys for the gynecologist, said Dr. Farzanfar denies the allegations and expects to be exonerated.

"Absolutely, he denies that any of them are true," Mr. VanGeison said. "But he is suffering harm as we speak. He had his license taken. His livelihood is lost. He loses his reputation."

Dr. Farzanfar, who maintains a private office on North Charles Street, had admitting privileges at Greater Baltimore Medical Center and Harbor Hospital. Both hospitals withdrew his privilege after the board action.

Last year in complaints to the board, three other patients accused Dr. Farzanfar of sexual misconduct. But five months ago, Administrative Law Judge Michael J. Wallace said the charges were unsubstantiated and ruled there were no grounds to suspend or revoke the doctor's license. He also questioned the credibility of two of the women.

Earlier this month, the Quality Assurance board cleared Dr. Farzanfar of the charges raised by the three women. But their allegations were generally milder and lacked the graphic detail presented by the 12 women who came forward after hearing about the case.

For example, two of the patients said the doctor exposed himself during office visits.

Seven patients have also filed civil suits this year against Dr. Farzanfar, each one charging sexual improprieties and seeking $3 million in damages. The plaintiffs are all represented by Joanne L. Suder of Baltimore.

It was not clear how many of the seven patients seeking civil damages were among the 15 women whose accounts have been outlined by the Quality Assurance Board, which by law keeps patients' names confidential.

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