Cited Article

"Calling Dr. Love": The Physician-Patient Sexual Relationship as Grounds for Medical Malpractice- Society Pays While the Doctor and Patient Play

Case Citation

Roy v. Superior Court, 198 Cal. App. 4th 1337 (2011)


The Medical Board of California (the Board) ordered that petitioner William Joseph Roy, Jr., M.D., be publicly reprimanded, after finding he committed professional misconduct by engaging in sexual relations with a patient. ... Two issues are presented for review: (1) whether substantial evidence supports the trial court's finding that Roy willingly allowed a patient to fondle or grope an intimate part of his body for a substantial period of time; *1340 and (2) if so, whether the conduct constituted an act of “sexual relations” within the meaning of section 726. We answer “yes” to both questions and therefore deny the petition.

Citing Quote

For the foregoing reasons, we reject the idea that Roy was exempt from discipline under section 726 unless he was the giver and not merely the recipient of sexually intimate contact with his patient. We believe this result comports with the Legislature's intent to protect vulnerable patients from overreaching by their physicians. “The patient's physical and mental well-being depends upon the physician's competence. Detailed physical examinations along with the patient's personal revelations and insights often accompany most courses of treatment. Patients' vulnerability compounded with their obvious dependence on the physician to ‘cure their ills' places the physician in a position of dominance.[9] It is this position of dominance, **548 or relative disparity of power in the relationship, which has led the American Medical Association ... to conclude that having sexual relations with a current patient is unethical. [¶] The prohibition against sexual relationships with patients dates back over one thousand years to the Hippocratic Oath.” (Note, “Calling Dr. Love ”: The Physician–Patient Sexual Relationship as Grounds for Medical Malpractice–Society Pays While the Doctor and Patient Play, 14 J.L. & Health (1999–2000) 321, 324–325, fns. omitted.)

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