Court Deems Doctor’s Affair with Patient Medical Malpractice

The NY State Court of Appeals has ruled that a doctor who was treating a patient for depression and anxiety and had an affair with her is medical malpractice. The Court also ruled that the patient was partially responsible since the sexual encounters were sought by both parties.
While it has been long considered by the medical community that a doctor who engages in an affair with a patient breaches an ethical code, a determination that such behavior is malpractice has not been as widely held, up until now.
The appellate court ruling means that the court has upheld a jury award of $338,000 in damages to Kristin Kahkonen Dupree. The jury set her fault at 25 percent and reduced damages by that much.
The Court of Appeals is stripping another $166,000 in punitive damages, finding no malicious conduct by Dr. James Giugliano.
The nine-month affair ended in 2002. Dupree’s husband sued for divorce. She sued Giugliano for malpractice in 2005.