The NJ State Board of Medical Examiners revoked the license of a neurologist after he allegedly had sex with one of his patients.
Investigators say Dr. Jonathan Fellus engaged in a sexual relationship with a woman who had suffered a mild brain injury.
The patient, who was 33-years-old at the time, was injured in a car accident back in February of 2008. Due to the accident, the woman suffered episodes of weakness, collapsing with loss of consciousness, seizures, emotional maladjustments and physical injuries.
The woman’s neuropsychologist referred her to Dr. Fellus, who was the director of brain injury services at a rehab facility in West Orange, New Jersey.
In August of 2008, the two allegedly entered a relationship which included sexual encounters in exam rooms at the rehab center as well as other locations. The relationship continued until March of 2009 when Fellus cut contact with the woman, according to investigators.
During their relationship, officials say the woman continued to suffer collapses and seizures. Fellus determined the patient suffered an apparent mild traumatic brain injury and elements of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to investigators. A psychologist also determined that she suffered neurocognitive dysfunction, post-concussive syndrome, and cognitive disorder.
“The facts clearly show that Dr. Fellus engaged in a relationship with this patient, even though he knew or should have known she was suffering a diagnosed cognitive disorder and was physically debilitated by injuries she suffered in a car accident,” Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said. “This relationship violated long-standing ethical standards and a specific Board of Medical Examiners rule prohibiting sexual contact between physicians and their patients.”
After the allegations against him surfaced, Fellus was placed on administrative leave and resigned in 2011. According to the Star Ledger, Fellus most recently operated Advanced NeuroCare, a private practice in Flanders, NJ. He was also the chief medical officer for the International Brain Research Foundation.
After a hearing on Wednesday, the NJ State Board of Medical Examiners ordered that Fellus’ medical license be revoked, determining that his alleged actions “constituted gross malpractice, professional misconduct, lack of good moral character, and failure to comply with the Board’s rule prohibiting sexual conduct with a patient.”
“The Board of Medical Examiners’ prohibition of sexual contact with patients is intended to protect those who are vulnerable and who are attempting to heal,” Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Steve Lee said. “The Board of Medical Examiners took the right action by revoking the license of this physician for violating this essential requirement.”
Fellus is now required to transfer all of his current patients to new physicians within 30 days and is prohibited from treating new patients. He also must pay a penalty of $10,000 and $34,450 in costs to the State.
While Fellus is allowed to apply for reinstatement, he must wait until three years after the effective date of his revocation. He would then have to appear before a Board committee, submit proof that he’s continued psychotherapy, provide a comprehensive report from a treating psychologist and complete Board-approved courses on personal ethics.