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Seattle doctor suspended for allegedly 'sexting' during surgeries

Hospitals and ClinicsHealth
Seattle doctor is suspended after allegations that he was 'sexting' during surgeries
'Sexting' during surgery? A Seattle doctor is suspended after complaints surface

A Seattle doctor has been suspended after state officials discovered he was allegedly texting during about two dozen procedures last year, sending sexually explicit messages.

The charges against Arthur Zilberstein suggest he looked through a patient's medical records to obtain pictures for his own sexual gratification, and may have also been exchanging sexually explicit texts with that patient, according to documents made public by the Washington Department of Health. In one instance, health officials allege he sent a picture of his genitals to someone while wearing hospital scrubs.

The health department said Zilberstein engaged in similar misconduct during about two dozen procedures, ranging from caeserean sections to an appendectomy, in a five-month span from April to August last year, according to records.

Reached at his Seattle home, Zilberstein had little to say.

“I know you have a report to do," he said in a brief conversation with the Los Angeles Times. "But I have nothing to tell you. Thanks for calling.”

During one procedure last August, Zilberstein, who worked as an anesthesiologist, allegedly sent 45 text messages with sexual innuendo in less than a two-hour span. Last July, the doctor allegedly sent more than a dozen messages arranging a sexual encounter with his girlfriend at the hospital.

He was involved in a surgery at the time, according to the health department documents.

On several occasions, Zilberstein also allegedly texted pictures of himself wearing either scrubs or his hospital badge while exposing his genitals. In once case, he was nearly caught but shrugged at the danger, health officials say.

"Oh, And my partner walked in as I was pulling up my pants. I'm pretty sure he caught me," one text included in the file reads.

Zilberstein had permission to perform procedures at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, but was not directly employed by the facility, a hospital spokesman told The Times. A page on the hospital's website naming Zilberstein as a physician appears to have been taken down.

"The safety of our patients is our number one priority. Once we learned that the state had suspended this physician's medical license, the physician's medical staff membership and privileges were immediately suspended," Clay Holtzman, a spokesman for the facility, said in a statement. "We just recently learned of these allegations and are conducting our own internal review of the physician, who is not directly employed by Swedish."

The full list of allegations can be read here.

Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for breaking news

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

11:25 p.m. June 11: This story was updated to make clear that Zilberstein no longer has permissions at the hospital, which already was included in the hospital's statement. 

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