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In re Taylor

Supreme Court of Vermont

July 17, 2015

In re Stephanie H. Taylor, M.D

On Appeal from Board of Medical Practice. Patricia King, Chair.

Edward G. Adrian of Monaghan Safar Ducham PLLC, Burlington, for Appellant.

William H. Sorrell, Attorney General, and Jacob A. Humbert, Assistant Attorney General, Montpelier, for Appellee.

Present: Reiber, C.J., Dooley, Skoglund and Eaton, JJ., and Morse, J. (Ret.), Specially Assigned. DOOLEY, J., concurring and dissenting.

OPINION

Page 423

REIBER, C.J.

[¶1] Dr. Stephanie Taylor appeals from a decision of the Vermont Medical Practice Board denying her request to remove the provisions in a prior stipulation and consent order in which she agreed to a " final and irrevocable" surrender of her medical license and further agreed not to seek relicensure. Dr. Taylor contends that the Board: (1) failed to set forth adequate findings to support its decision; (2) improperly considered the fact that she was represented by counsel in the earlier proceeding; and (3) exceeded its authority by providing that her license surrender would be irrevocable. We agree with the first claim, and therefore reverse and remand.

[¶2] This disciplinary matter arrives with a long and troubled history. Dr. Taylor received her medical license in Vermont in September 1991. She practiced as a psychiatrist in the Town of Stowe until July 1995, when the Board summarily suspended her license following her loss of hospital privileges at Copley Hospital. Thereafter, in November 1996, Dr. Taylor entered into stipulation and consent order in which she admitted to unprofessional conduct in the form of a " chemical addiction" that posed a " threat to the health, safety and welfare" of her patients; a " mental impairment" that affected her competency to practice; and a " disregard for the fundamental principles of doctor-patient boundaries as they must exist within the psychiatric therapeutic setting." Dr. Taylor agreed that her license would be " indefinitely suspended," and stipulated to numerous conditions for reinstatement, including a prohibition against her " return to the practice of clinical psychiatry" ; retraining in a Board-approved residency program; future practice only in a " structured group-practice setting" ; completion of a course on the proper prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances; weekly psychotherapy; abstention from the use of any mind or mood altering drugs; and a prohibition against self-prescribing or prescribing for family members.

[¶3] In June 2000, in response to a request from Dr. Taylor, the Board entered a new and amended consent order. The amended order granted Dr. Taylor a " conditioned license to practice medicine" for the purpose of pursuing a family-practice residency at Tufts University; permitted her to practice only in Massachusetts in activities related to the residency; and reaffirmed the previous requirements and conditions for reinstatement to practice in Vermont outlined in the November 1996 order. At the same time, Dr. Taylor entered into an agreement with the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine which limited her practice in Massachusetts to activities within the family-practice residency, and otherwise placed her on indefinite suspension with numerous requirements for full reinstatement.

[¶4] In April 2003, following the completion of her residency, Dr. Taylor entered into a further consent order granting her a conditioned license to practice medicine in Vermont, while maintaining many of the prior conditions and restrictions from the November 1996 order, including the provision that she not practice clinical psychiatry, practice only in a structured group setting, and refrain from self-prescribing or prescribing for family members.

[¶5] Not long thereafter, in February 2004, the Massachusetts medical board suspended Dr. Taylor's conditional license for failure to comply with its requirement of random drug testing. After learning of the Massachusetts action and receiving a patient complaint about Dr. Taylor, the Vermont Board opened a new investigation and subsequently entered into an interim consent order temporarily suspending Dr. Taylor's license. In September 2004, the

Page 424

State filed a lengthy specification of charges, alleging twenty-five separate counts of professional misconduct against Dr. Taylor. As described therein, these included allegations that Dr. Taylor had " materially breached" provisions of the previous consent orders, " improperly prescribed drugs, violated professional boundaries, ignored Board rules, and failed to adhere to prevailing medical standards."

[¶6] The new charges led to a further stipulation and consent order in August 2005. While entering " no admission" to the charges, Dr. Taylor agreed that the new consent order was " an acceptable means of resolving" the matter and " in the best interests of all parties." The operative provisions, set forth in Paragraph 11, state that Dr. Taylor " wishes to resolve with finality all matters now pending before" the Board, and that -- in lieu of the " time, expense, and uncertainty" of contesting the charges in a public hearing and the possibility of disciplinary action -- she has " determined that she shall voluntarily and forthwith SURRENDER to the Vermont Board of Medical Practice her license to practice medicine in the State of Vermont." The paragraph concludes that Dr. Taylor " understands and agrees that such action by her of surrender of her medical license shall be final and irrevocable." In the following paragraph, Paragraph 12, Dr. Taylor further " agrees and warrants that at no time hereafter shall she seek by any means licensure, reinstatement, or relicensure as a physician in the State of Vermont regardless of circumstances or the passage of time."

[¶7] Almost nine years later, in May 2013, Dr. Taylor submitted a letter to the Board requesting that it consider an application for the reinstatement of her medical license. While acknowledging the restrictive provisions of the 2005 consent order, Dr. Taylor claimed that she and her son were then subject to physical and emotional abuse from her former spouse but that they were now " in a very different place." The letter states that she had since received a master's degree in architecture and started her own consulting company advising on patient safety and " healthcare-associated infections" ; that her son was grown and doing well; and that she wished to reinstate her medical license so that, in ...


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