Merced doctor's license might be revoked

Surgeon has history of sexual misconduct

yamaro@mercedsunstar.comFebruary 23, 2013 

— A petition to revoke the medical license of a Merced surgeon with a history of sexual harassment incidents going back about two dec- ades was filed last week with the Medical Board of California.

Dr. Gregory DiCarlo, 67, has a practice at 411 W. 20th St. in Merced.

This is not the first time DiCarlo's conduct has come under scrutiny by the medical board. He completed a five-year probation in 2011 for the same issues, including allegations of inappropriate touching and sexual comments, according to board records.

On Thursday, DiCarlo said he recently learned about the case filed against him by the medical board. "I think they are very trivial," he said of the allegations. He declined to make any further comments.

The accusation to revoke his license for alleged unprofessional conduct was filed by the board following a mental health evaluation completed in August 2012 despite his successful completion of probation.

That psychiatric report found he has a condition that triggers his sexual misconduct, board records show.

The psychiatrist who conducted the evaluation said it was clear treatment DiCarlo was receiving hasn't worked and the threat of losing his medical license has failed to get him to change his behaviors.

"Therefore, I believe that Dr. DiCarlo's behavior represents an unacceptable danger to his patients and other professionals working with him," he said in his August report.

Frank Miller, a medical board official, said DiCarlo's previous cases, going back to 1993, are being used in this revocation action to establish a history of his conduct and prove that there's a pattern to his behavior.

Miller said it takes time to review claims against physicians, and the process can drag out if multiple incidents are being examined. "We still need to do our diligence to investigate," he said.

Miller said he wasn't able to speak as to why the board is looking at DiCarlo's case again.

DiCarlo resigned from Mercy Medical Center in 2010 in the midst of the latest accusation regarding his conduct.

The first complaint against DiCarlo occurred in January 1993 when a surgical technician accused him of sexual harassment and inappropriate touching, according to board documents. She claimed he pinched her, made comments of a sexual nature and tried to lie on top of her while she was resting in a lounge.

In October of the same year, DiCarlo allegedly engaged in inappropriate physical contact with a nurse, who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him and Merced Community Medical Center -- now Mercy Medical Center -- board documents show.

In his deposition in the sexual harassment case, DiCarlo admitted "swatting her on her butt" and touching other female staff members inappropriately on as many as six other occasions, according to board documents.

Over the years, board documents show, other sexual harassment complaints were filed against DiCarlo.

In 2005, the state medical board filed an accusation against DiCarlo based on charges that he had "engaged in sexualized and inappropriate behavior with female medical staff." A year later, the board reached a settlement with the doctor to revoke his medical license.

However, the revocation was put off for undisclosed reasons, and DiCarlo was placed on a five-year probation with various conditions, including that he complete a "professional boundaries" course and submit to a psychiatric evaluation, the board documents show.

During his probationary period, board documents indicated DiCarlo continued his inappropriate behavior. Four more complaints were made, but two of them were by the same woman who later retracted her complaint, documents show.

The latest incident occurred in 2010, just before he resigned from Mercy.

In August 2012, DiCarlo had his second psychiatric evaluation, which was sent to the medical board.

In his report, the psychiatrist diagnosed DiCarlo with "paraphilia NOS and impulse control not otherwise specified." Paraphilia is a condition in which a person's sexual arousal and gratification depend on fantasizing about and engaging in sexual behavior that is atypical and extreme, according to Psychology Today.

Dr. Sidney Wolfe of Public Citizen, a watchdog group that ranks medical boards annually, said doctors with sex-related offenses are not adequately disciplined.

In the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit's 2012 ranking of medical boards, California was No. 28 for its rate of serious disciplinary actions from 2009-2011.

"California's is not one of the best medical boards," Wolfe said. "California does not do very well and this is an example of that."

Miller said the state medical board follows an enforcement-process chart with cases and there are a number of factors that would go into the ultimate decision regarding DiCarlo's medical license.

Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or yamaro@mercedsunstar.com.