What Happened with Spokane’s Improper Doctor?
You're here to learn about the alleged improper doctor, or "Dr. Improper," as I like to call him. Before we get to him, though, how about a quick refresher on the oath that doctors take when they start their career.
The Hippocratic Oath
You've no doubt heard of the Hippocratic oath, a kind of moral and ethical guide that those who practice medicine swear to adhere to. The oath "states the obligations and proper conduct of doctors." See if you think that describes the doctor in this story.
Imagine you're a woman (some of you won't have to). You go to see your family doctor. You're not feeling well. It's probably just a cold, or the flu, but it's 2021 and who wants to learn they actually have Covid when it's too late? I'm hypothesizing about the Covid concerns here. But it's best to get checked out.
May I Always Act So as to Preserve the Finest Traditions of My Calling
So you're at your family doctor, telling him about your symptoms, and before you know it, he's lifting your shirt up - without asking. This catches you off guard, but maybe you don't say anything yet. You dismiss the lack of formality. After all, he wants to listen to your heart and lungs. And you don't want to make things weird with your doctor. Maybe he just forgot to ask. "I'm probably over-reacting," you think.
Warmth, Sympathy, and Understanding
Then the doctor makes jokes about your marital status. WTH? And he compares your "thin" physical appearance to that of his wife. WTF? Now you're positive that the doctor is being inappropriate. And you're in a compromised position. He has all the power. It's his office. His practice. What can you do except hold yourself together and get out of there as quickly as possible?
I Remain a Member of Society, with Special Obligations to All My Fellow Human Beings
I don't know that this is how the alleged Dr. Improper's patient felt at the time, or how she handled it. Maybe she called him out on the spot - good for her if she did. I do know that she reported the supposed interaction.
Guess what? It turns out her (alleged) improper doctor was put on probation just a couple of months earlier for similar behavior, reported by three other women. If he didn't know better then, he knows better now.
The Name of This Alleged Improper Doctor
As a result of the accusations I've dramatized above, Dr. Thomas J. Osten was suspended from practicing medicine in Washington State. The Washington Medical Commission says his license was suspended on August 30th, 2022. The Commission stated that Osten committed "unprofessional conduct involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, corruption, sexual misconduct and abuse."
Sounds bad. So problem solved, right? Sounds like it's over.
Not so fast.
May I Long Experience the Joy of Healing Those Who Seek My Help
According to US Legal, "Upon a finding of unprofessional conduct warranting revocation, the Board has discretion to suspend the practitioner from practice for the period permitted by the statute. The board can also impose conditions during the suspension period and may require a showing of professional competence before reinstating a license."
In other words, suspending a license is not revoking a license. There's a chance that Osten could practice medicine in Washington again, after the suspension period is over. Stay tuned.