Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal
The incoming president of the New Mexico Medical Society has been suspended from practicing medicine after an investigation into claims that he had sex with patients, drank on the job and left patients giving birth “unattended” despite being summoned by hospital staff.
In the case of one birth where he didn’t show up, Dr. Christopher S. Driskill, a 42-year-old Hobbs obstetrician and gynecologist, was unavailable because he was having “sexual relations with another patient,” according to a public notice on file at the New Mexico Medical Board. The document does not say where that alleged sexual encounter occurred.
The board voted Friday to immediately suspend Driskill’s license after finding “sufficient evidence” that he poses “a clear and immediate danger to the public health and safety” if he continues to practice medicine.
“Your sexual relationships and abuse of alcohol have negatively affected your practice of medicine,” the Medical Board said in its summary suspension notice.
Driskill, who couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday, has the right to a hearing on the allegations before the board takes final action on his license. As of Wednesday afternoon, Driskill had not requested such a hearing.
Driskill is listed as “president-elect” on the New Mexico Medical Society website and is a past vice president. He is slated to become president of the society in May.
The society is a professional organization that represents about 85 percent of the physicians in New Mexico, according to a society official. The organization dates back to 1886.
“We really don’t have a comment until a hearing has taken place in this matter,” said Randy Marshall, executive director of the society. “There does need to be due process.”
Asked whether the medical society leadership had been aware of the board investigation involving Driskill, Marshall said, “All of that is not of a public nature.”
‘Under the influence’
The Medical Board suspension notice listed 11 charges.
The notice said Driskill “on a multitude of occasions within the past few years” admitted pregnant patients into the Lea Regional Medical Center in Hobbs after they went into labor but wasn’t there when they delivered.
When the women were about to give birth, nursing staff tried to summon Driskill back to deliver the babies, but he didn’t respond and the patients ended up giving birth without him there.
“On one occasion, an emergency cesarean-section operation was delayed because of your delay in arriving at LRMC,” the notice said.
Driskill is alleged to have had a sexual relationship with several of his patients, including some who were employees of his former medical practice, Premier Ob/Gyn of Hobbs, or the Lea Regional Medical Center, which is next door.
He allegedly prescribed a controlled substance, Alprazolam, to one of the patients without maintaining proper medical records.
The board alleged Driskill was “under the influence of alcohol” during work hours and while he was on call at the hospital, and that he maintained a “personal cache” of alcohol in his office at Premier, where he no longer works.
Among other allegations, Driskill is alleged to have entered “inappropriate notations of a personal nature into certain patient medical charts,” and performed a pelvic exam on a patient without a chaperone after informing the patient that one would be present.
On Aug. 11, Premier terminated Driskill for the actions alleged by the board, the board complaint states.
Ten days later, Premier notified the Lea Regional Medical Center of Driskill’s termination for cause, the complaint states.
“To avoid being formally disciplined by LRMC, you immediately requested from LRMC, and received, a retroactive ‘temporary leave of absence’ and have not returned to LRMC as of this date,” the complaint added.
Driskill, under state law, was supposed to report that termination and leave of absence to the Medical Board but did not, the complaint adds.
Driskill is a graduate of Texas Tech School of Medicine and is listed as a member of the board of trustees for the University of the Southwest, a private college that describes itself as “Christ centered.”
As is common practice, the case against Driskill was presented to the board last week without the board knowing the identity of the physician under investigation.
Lynn Hart, executive director for the board, declined to comment on the case Wednesday.
Under state law, the Medical Society provides the governor with a list of physician candidates for appointment to the nine-member state Medical Board, which licenses and disciplines physicians.
The society also works with state agencies on health and medical issues, and certifies the clinical courses required for physicians’ continuing education.
Four of the six physicians on the nine-member Medical Board are past presidents of the society, all appointees of Gov. Susana Martinez.