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Copyright © 2015 Albuquerque Journal
The New Mexico Medical Board on Thursday allowed a Hobbs OB-GYN to go back to work, but it denied his request to erase from the public record the “salacious” charges of sex and drinking that led to the emergency suspension of his medical license last year.
Dr. Christopher Driskill, 42, was ordered to participate in a “professional boundaries” class, attend a 12-step program, undergo psychotherapy and have no further contact with former patients with whom he had “affairs.”
He also must be accompanied by a chaperone when he meets with patients, agree to be monitored, and return within a year to a California-based program for sexual addiction for a one-week follow-up. He has been evaluated and treated there over the past two months.
Still up in the air Thursday was whether Driskill, who is president-elect of the New Mexico Medical Society, will become the organization’s president in a few months.
According to the constitution of the society, which is the leading professional organization for New Mexico physicians, “the president shall be the recognized leader of the profession in the state of New Mexico during his term of office.” The term lasts one year.
Driskill, the married father of four children, didn’t opt to formally contest the board’s allegations that he had sex with patients and staff, and failed on multiple occasions in the past few years to deliver patients’ babies after being summoned to the Lea County Regional Hospital.
One of those instances allegedly occurred while he was having sex with another patient at the hospital. Another patient was said to have been forced to have an emergency cesarean section because of his tardiness in arriving for the delivery.
Driskill also was accused of having a cache of liquor in his office and drinking on the job.
Clad in a navy pinstriped suit, Driskill sat in the audience and didn’t address the medical board. Asked by a reporter afterward whether he will be able to put the controversy behind him, he replied, “No comment.”
The board, which is appointed by the governor, deliberated on Driskill’s discipline and expungement request for about 30 minutes in closed session.
Prior to the board’s unanimous vote, Driskill’s attorney, Tom Mack of Albuquerque, argued that the “inflammatory” and “salacious” allegations in the board’s case against Driskill “have not served a genuine purpose.”
“They were not factually supported,” Mack said. “And they could be based on multiple levels of hearsay.” He also noted that there was no factual support “for the most salacious allegation.”
Asked later by a reporter which allegation he was referring to, Mack said, “It’s all of them.”
Board prosecutor Dan Rubin objected to the expungement request.
“Dr. Driskill’s rehabilitation means you come to grips with your past and accept it,” he said. “To have his past expunged seems to be contrary to the concept of rehabilitation.”
Rubin told the board there was no precedent for such an action.
He also said Driskill “should be commended for being humble and submitting to rehabilitation.”
Board Vice Chair Dr. Steven Jenkusky asked Driskill’s attorney, “Are you saying the board could do an order that says, ‘Nevermind?'”
Board member Dr. Peter Beaudette of Albuquerque, asked Rubin, “If some of the allegations proved to be inaccurate in retrospect, is it possible to go back and expunge?”
Rubin said only a court of law could order the medical board to expunge the public record.
“I believe in the merits of every allegation,”Rubin said, adding that board investigators worked “tirelessly down in Hobbs” interviewing witnesses and obtaining documentation to prove their case.
Rather than contest the charges in a public hearing in December, Driskill entered into a settlement with the board in January that required his evaluation by the Promises Treatment Center in Los Angeles, which treats sexual addiction.
The agreement with the board states that Driskill wasn’t admitting the violations of the state Medical Practice Act were true, but “acknowledges that sufficient evidence exists such that the Board could find that he violated such statutes.”
The board last November decided on the emergency suspension after finding Driskill posed a threat to the public welfare and safety.
But Driskill’s attorney said his client was never a danger to patients and has been deemed “fit to practice.” He also noted the “salacious allegations have done harm.”
Driskill’s case made headlines around the world last year, including an in-depth article in The New York Times titled, “In New Mexico, Deliverer of a Town’s Children Faces Salacious Accusations.”
Randy Marshall, executive director of the Medical Society, said Thursday afternoon his organization was waiting for Driskill to “communicate directly … his intentions of continuing as an officer of the organization.”
When asked about the matter by a Journal reporter Thursday, Driskill wouldn’t comment.