The state has suspended the medical license of a Buffalo-area psychiatrist for one year after charging him with attempting to enlist two patients to help him find sex partners.
Dr. Dham Gupta also must serve five years of probation after the suspension and, before resuming a medical practice, must undergo a psychiatric evaluation and comply with all treatment recommendations, according to the decision of the state Board for Professional Medical Conduct.
A board hearing committee sustained charges against Gupta of gross negligence, failure to keep accurate records of the conversations with the patients and conduct that evidences moral unfitness.
Gupta, 60, of Williamsville, who practiced at a number of locations in the Buffalo Niagara region, did not respond to a call to comment. His attorney, Mark Affronti of the Roach, Brown, McCarthy & Gruber law firm in Buffalo, said he had no comment.
A 49-year-old female patient under Gupta’s care at the Niagara County Department of Mental Health in 2010 alleged that Gupta asked for her assistance in obtaining a girlfriend for sex, according to state hearing documents.
The patient had a history of delusional disorder, paranoid personality disorder and substance abuse. She was being treated at the time for paranoia, depression, anxiety and suicidal and homicidal thoughts related to an abusive domestic relationship, according to the documents.
Gupta, a psychiatric consultant for the county department, admitted that the conversation took place during a treatment session and that he contacted the patient later about the status of his request, according to the documents.
Another patient, a 53-year-old male with a history of depression, anxiety disorder and substance abuse, reported a similar set of circumstances.
He was seen by Gupta in 2010 at the Niagara County Department of Mental Health for feeling suicidal. During an office visit, the patient alleged, Gupta asked him to help find a girlfriend age 20 to 27, with no drug problems, and followed up with several phone calls.
In both cases, the patients told officials that Gupta offered to pay them for their assistance, according to the documents.
In his hearing, Gupta admitted that the conversations took place and that he contacted the patients about the status of his requests, according to state documents. But he testified that the requests for a sex partner were made in “jest” and that the incidents were being taken out of proportion.
The hearing committee concluded that Gupta was not joking and was, instead, serious when he requested the assistance of his patients in obtaining sex partners. The standard of care for treating the patients required that the physician maintain appropriate professional boundaries, the hearing committee concluded.
“This behavior is intolerable in a physician entrusted with the care of our most vulnerable patients,” the hearing committee wrote.
Gupta can request a review of the hearing committee’s decision. A colleague of Gupta’s who asked not to be identified described the physician as a “complete professional” who exercised poor judgment but, from his perspective, received an overly harsh punishment.