Psychiatrist regains right to practice

January 22, 1993|By Jonathan Bor | Jonathan Bor,Staff Writer

A Towson psychiatrist who was sanctioned for having a sexual relationship with a female patient has been granted the right to practice again -- although he must limit his work to a state mental hospital for the next two years.

In an order issued by the state Board of Physician Quality Assurance, Dr. Philip D. Walls was given the right to treat patients at the Crownsville Hospital Center during a probationary period lasting until March 1995. He may then ask the board for permission to resume private practice without restrictions.

Dr. Walls, 50, began work at Crownsville Jan. 4 at an annual salary of $85,449, according to figures released by the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The board, which voted to suspend Dr. Walls' license last year, voted Dec. 16 to restore it.

To comply with his probation, Dr. Walls must continue receiving psychotherapy and must work under the supervision of Crownsville's acting clinical director, Dr. Jaleh Sahandy.

In some cases of sexual misconduct, the board has imposed a same-sex requirement as a condition of probation. However, the board chose not to order Dr. Walls to treat only men.

"He had an affair with one patient -- not multiple patients," said Executive Director J. Michael Compton, explaining the decision made by the board members.

The board also took into account Dr. Walls' cooperation with its investigation, Mr. Compton said.

Dr. Walls gave up his privileges at St. Joseph Hospital on Oct. 30, 1991, shortly after the patient filed a formal complaint. Four months later, he surrendered his license to the state board -- agreeing to a suspension that gave him the right to apply for reinstatement after six months. He also agreed to close his private psychiatric practice in Rosedale.

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.

A peer review committee of the Maryland Psychiatric Society said that the doctor's actions represented a "severe breach of the accepted standard of care" and "put this patient at great risk."

The patient declined to comment.

Dr. Walls' attorney, Richard C. Burch, said Wednesday that his ++ client has no specific plans to enter private practice after completing probation.

"At this juncture, I don't think he has any immediate plans one way or another," Mr. Burch said. "That's looking too far into the future. He just wants to return to practice quality medicine and put this chapter behind him."

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