A Baltimore County psychiatrist who admitted to having a sexual relationship with a patient has agreed to surrender his license -- the second Maryland psychiatrist in a month to give up his practice amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
In an agreement that was made public yesterday, Dr. Philip D. Walls surrendered his license on Feb. 12 to the state Board of Physician Quality Assurance. He admitted he had a five-month sexual relationship with a female patient who last fall complained to the board about the affair.
Dr. Walls maintained a private practice in Rosedale and treated patients at St. Joseph Hospital in Towson. He voluntarily surrendered his privileges at St. Joseph last Oct. 30 "as a result of the patient's complaint," according to a document released by the board.
By engaging in sex with a patient, the doctor was guilty of "immoral or unprofessional conduct," according to the board. Such behavior also violates the ethical standards of the American Psychiatric Association, which considers it damaging to a patient's mental health.
A peer review committee of the Maryland Psychiatric Society said the doctor's actions represented a "severe breach of the accepted standard of care" and "put this patient at great risk."
Dr. Walls waived his right to a hearing in which he could have contested the allegations and presented witnesses.
The agreement allows him to ask the board to lift the suspension in August, six months after it took effect, but he must continue getting psychotherapy himself.
Should the board agree, a 3-year probationary period would limit his practice to a public hospital or a private practice shared by other physicians. Such restrictions are intended to keep an errant physician under the observation of colleagues.
"This way, [a doctor] can't go out there and set up an office and do things behind closed doors where there is no one else there," said J. Michael Compton, executive director of the Quality Assurance Board.
Dr. Walls' lawyer, Richard C. Burch, declined comment on the case yesterday.