A Mesquite neurologist prohibited from seeing female patients in the past because of accusations of inappropriate touching is facing a criminal charge after a young mother made a similar allegation.
Faiz Ahmed, 56, has been charged with assault by contact, a Class C misdemeanor, in connection with an April incident at Dallas Regional Medical Center in Mesquite. A complaint has also been filed with the Texas Medical Board.
Dr. Ahmed dismissed the woman's complaint as "false allegations" and referred inquiries to his Austin attorney, Mike Sharp, who did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Dr. Ahmed's medical privileges at the hospital have been suspended, but he still practices at Southwestern Institute of Neurology, a clinic in Mesquite.
The woman, who was being treated for seizures at the time of the alleged incident, also accuses Dr. Ahmed of overmedicating her and giving her a medicine that he knew she was allergic to. Initially, she was supposed to be in the hospital overnight, she said, but the stay lengthened to three days.
On the third day, she said, the neurologist was alone with her behind a curtain when he had her stand up, he told her, to test her balance.
"He opened the back of my hospital gown, and I didn't have any clothes on underneath it," she said.
She could feel him behind her, she said, and told him she didn't feel well and wanted to lie down.
When she got back into the bed, the doctor lifted the sheet and pulled up her gown, she said.
At that point, she heard footsteps and Dr. Ahmed pulled the sheet up on her bed, she said.
It was another doctor who had come to check on her.
"He could see the concerned look on my face, and he went and got a nurse," the woman said.
Dr. Ahmed left the room, and a nurse came in.
"I was shaking and crying," the woman said. "I told her what had happened."
That nurse went for a supervisor.
"That's when they told me that he had done this before and that he wasn't going to be allowed back in my room," she said.
Dallas Regional Medical Center suspended Dr. Ahmed's privileges in April, hospital spokeswoman Paula Reisdorfer said. She would not discuss whether the action was related to a complaint from a patient.
The woman, who is not being identified because of The Dallas Morning News' policy of not naming alleged victims of sexual assault, filed complaints with the state medical board and Mesquite police.
Jill Wiggins, spokeswoman for the state medical board, would neither confirm nor deny that a complaint against Dr. Ahmed was pending before the board, which next meets Aug. 28.
Mesquite police Lt. Bill Hedgpeth said officers investigated the woman's report and presented the results to the Dallas County district attorney's office, which advised them of the appropriate charge. Assault by contact is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 and no jail time, like a traffic ticket.
Lt. Hedgpeth said officers issued Dr. Ahmed a citation in April.
The case was set for court on June 9 but was delayed, municipal court records show. A new court date has not been set.
The woman who filed the complaint said no one told her when the case would go to court so she could testify against the doctor.
This isn't the first time Dr. Ahmed has been accused of misconduct by women he's treated.
In 1993 and 1994, he was practicing in South Texas and was accused by "numerous female patients" of touching them inappropriately, according to a Texas Medical Board report on a hearing involving the neurologist.
Though criminal charges and lawsuits were filed against Dr. Ahmed, he was never found guilty of a crime, according to the report.
"None of the plaintiffs prevailed in trial, nor did [Dr. Ahmed] settle with any of them," the report said.
Nevertheless, his privileges were suspended indefinitely at a hospital in Hidalgo County, and he was allowed to resign.
In February 2003, the state medical board entered an "agreed order" prohibiting Dr. Ahmed from seeing female patients based on the allegations against him and a peer review.
"When there are criminal or civil actions pending, the board usually waits for final resolution before taking any action," said Ms. Wiggins, explaining the time lapse between the hospital's action and the board's.
The medical board is responsible for maintaining discipline among the state's 45,432 resident physicians and also for licensing the record number of new doctors coming into the state the last few years.
For years, critics said the medical board was too easy on bad and even dangerous doctors. The News ran a series of stories in 2001 and 2002 that cited examples.
Dr. Donald Patrick, the board's outgoing executive director, credited those articles with exposing shortcomings. He wrote in the organization's spring 2008 bulletin that the board stepped up enforcement in 2003.
That same year, the state Legislature increased the board's budget to beef up enforcement.
Critics now say the board has gone too far the other way, said Tom Smith of the consumer group Public Citizen in Austin.
"There were significant improvements under Dr. Patrick," Mr. Smith said. "Of late, however, they have undergone a sunset commission review, and the medical community has questioned whether they have gone too far in their discipline of doctors."
There are cases, he said, in which regulators reach tough decisions that are weakened over time by numerous appeals to the agency, which may be overworked and still underfunded.
"It's a chronic problem," Mr. Smith said.
Dr. Ahmed was issued a Texas medical license in 1993 and worked in Houston before moving to Mesquite.
After the medical board's 2003 order prohibiting him from seeing female patients, he unsuccessfully appealed the decision in 2004 and 2005.
In 2006, after hearing the results of neuropsychiatric and psychological evaluations of the doctor, the board amended the order.
The modified order required Dr. Ahmed to have a chaperone present any time he performed a physical examination of a female patient.
On Feb. 8 of this year, the board granted Dr. Ahmed's appeal to have this condition removed.