DOVER — A long-time Dover physician is under criminal investigation and the Delaware Attorney General’s office has requested an emergency license suspension after allegations of sexual misconduct against patients, officials said Friday.
Dr. Jerome Abrams allegedly touched and fondled female patients during examinations at Dover Family Physicians in Dover between June 2005 and May 2013, the AG’s office said.
The probe began after the state Division of Professional Regulations investigated and reported allegations of professional misconduct to the AG’s office.
“Today my office has filed a petition seeking the immediate suspension of a Dover physician for committing sexual misconduct against patients over a period of several years,” Delaware AG Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III said in a press release.
“The investigation into these serious and disturbing allegations is ongoing.”
Dr. Abrams has been given 24 hours to respond to the notice, state spokesman James Collins said Friday afternoon, and the Delaware Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline and Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock will make the final determination on the license request suspension from the AG.
“I think the motion for suspensions lays out the allegations, which are pretty serious,” Mr. Collins said. “This agency exists to protect the public, and this request will be given full attention.
The AG’s office also seeks for the Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline to schedule a hearing to permanently revoke his license.
The Delaware State Police is also investigating the matter as a criminal case.
“It’s an ongoing, thorough, and comprehensive investigation that is in the early stages,” DSP spokesman Paul G. Shavack said. “Any charges that might be filed will be announced at the conclusion of the investigation.”
Sgt. Shavack said that similar cases involved investigation into patient records and interviews with patients and staff. The case is being handled by DSP Troop 3, and anyone with information or concerns is asked to call 697-2104.
The AG’s office said Dr. Abrams is no longer employed at Dover Family Physicians. Attempts to reach Dr. Abrams were unsuccessful.
According to the AG’s filing, the managing physician at Dover Family Physicians told Dr. Abrams on May 21 of a victim’s complaint of fondling, and told him that authorities would be notified.
Dr. Abrams contacted the patient directly to discuss the complaint on May 21 despite being told not to, the AG said in papers.
The AG said in papers “based on the serious and repeated acts of sexual misconduct (Dr. Abrams) represents a clear and immediate danger to the public health if he is permitted to continue to practice medicine …”
Five female patients were listed as victims in the complaint and motion filed by the AG. They were touched, fondled and rubbed “without medical need or justification and without explanation to the patient,” the AG filing stated.
The practice responds
On Friday, Dover Family Physicians announced the resignation of Dr. Abrams in “response to the request of his partner physicians in the practice,” according to a press release.
“Their request for his resignation was triggered by recent reports to the practice from patients,” the release said. “Due to Federal health information privacy laws, the practice cannot elaborate on those reports.”
The practice said Dr. Abrams had not provided any health care services since the first complaint surfaced.
“The health, safety and well-being of our patients is why our practice exists,” said Dr. Joseph F. Rubacky III, noting that protocols were followed and authorities contacted immediately upon first concerns.
“Nothing is more important to us as health care professionals, from our physicians to our other health care professionals to each and every one of our staff members. We will do everything in our power to assure patients receive the highest quality health care delivered safely and respectfully.
“All of us at Dover Family Physicians work every day to fulfill our responsibilities to all the patients of our practice, as well as to the State of Delaware and to the medical community.”
The practice encouraged any patients with issues or questions to meet personally and confidentially with Dr. Rubacky or Practice Manager Leann Legg. Ms. Legg and Dr. Rubacky can be reached at 734-2500 or LLegg@DoverFamilyPhysicians.com.
In late 2007, Dr. Abrams was honored by Bayhealth Medical Center for 25 years of service to patients at Kent General and Milford Memorial hospitals. He was among four physicians honored at a recognition dinner.
Staff writer Craig Anderson can be reached at 741-8296 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @DSNAnderson on Twitter.