U surgeon fined for e-mails with patient

David Sutherland was also cited for a personal relationship with a patient in ’97.

 

A renowned University of Minnesota surgeon has been disciplined by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice for exchanging inappropriate e-mails with a patient.
 
Earlier this month, Dr. David Sutherland, 70, was fined $3,660 and formally reprimanded by the board for sending and receiving e-mails “of an inappropriate nature” with a patient between July and Noveber of 2009, when the board received complaints regarding SutherlandâÄôs actions.
 
After being investigated by the board, Sutherland ended the relationship with his patient, stopping the exchange of e-mails, according to the order released by the board.
 
The relationship was never physical and was limited to e-mail, Sutherland said.
 
“IâÄôm very sorry this happened and for any concern it causes,” he said.
 
“It doesnâÄôt affect my license, it doesnâÄôt affect my work. I continue with patient care doing the best I can.”
 
This is not the surgeonâÄôs first brush with questionable ethics.
 
The board ordered Sutherland to take a course in professional boundaries in 1997 after finding he had a “personal relationship” with a patient before ending the professional physician/patient relationship in the medical record.
 
He and the patient were married in September of 1996. The two are still married, Sutherland said.
 
That case was dismissed in early 1998 after Sutherland completed the professional boundaries course.
 
The surgeonâÄôs history was factored into the recent fine, said Ruth Martinez, the supervisor of the boardâÄôs complaint unit.
 
Sutherland is the director of the Diabetes Institute for Immunology and Transplantation, and was previously head of the UniversityâÄôs transplant division from 2004 to 2009.
 
He is known for his expertise in whole-organ pancreas transplants and has trained 90 percent of surgeons performing this procedure worldwide, according to the UniversityâÄôs website.A renowned University of Minnesota surgeon has been disciplined by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice for exchanging inappropriate e-mails with a patient.
 
Earlier this month, Dr. David Sutherland, 70, was fined $3,660 and formally reprimanded by the board for sending and receiving e-mails “of an inappropriate nature” with a patient between July and Noveber of 2009, when the board received complaints regarding SutherlandâÄôs actions.
 
After being investigated by the board, Sutherland ended the relationship with his patient, stopping the exchange of e-mails, according to the order released by the board.
 
The relationship was never physical and was limited to e-mail, Sutherland said.
 
“IâÄôm very sorry this happened and for any concern it causes,” he said.
 
“It doesnâÄôt affect my license, it doesnâÄôt affect my work. I continue with patient care doing the best I can.”
 
This is not the surgeonâÄôs first brush with questionable ethics.
 
The board ordered Sutherland to take a course in professional boundaries in 1997 after finding he had a “personal relationship” with a patient before ending the professional physician/patient relationship in the medical record.
 
He and the patient were married in September of 1996. The two are still married, Sutherland said.
 
That case was dismissed in early 1998 after Sutherland completed the professional boundaries course.
 
The surgeonâÄôs history was factored into the recent fine, said Ruth Martinez, the supervisor of the boardâÄôs complaint unit.
 
Sutherland is the director of the Diabetes Institute for Immunology and Transplantation, and was previously head of the UniversityâÄôs transplant division from 2004 to 2009.
 
He is known for his expertise in whole-organ pancreas transplants and has trained 90 percent of surgeons performing this procedure worldwide, according to the UniversityâÄôs website.