A well-known Spokane AIDS doctor has been placed on three-years probation by the state and must have a woman present while examining female patients.
Dr. Daniel Coulston, 45, admitted having sexually explicit telephone conversations with a female patient in the fall of 1992.
Three years later, he took the unusual step of reporting his behavior to the state Medical Quality Assurance Commission.
The commission accused Coulston of unprofessional conduct last April. The sanctions were imposed in August but only recently were made public.
“We think it’s fair and reasonable and protects the public,” said Mike Farrell, an attorney for the state Department of Health.
Coulston will appear before the commission next week to show he’s complying with the order.
An employee at Coulston’s office referred phone calls about the case to his lawyer, Dan Keefe.
“He self-reported,” Keefe said. “It was obviously a very singular set of circumstances. I happen to share the judgment of others in the community that he’s an outstanding physician and an outstanding human being.”
Coulston, licensed as a physician and surgeon in Washington in July 1980, has been a regional leader in treating AIDS patients.
He has served on the Deaconess Heart Foundation and on a state task force on AIDS.
Coulston began seeing a female patient in 1991 who suffered from inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid problems.
She also had a number of psychological problems, including a history of drug abuse, long-term anxiety, severe depression and suicidal thoughts, according to the commission.
Coulston was the woman’s primary-care doctor until 1993. He told the Department of Health that he had four or five sexually explicit phone conversations with her in fall 1992.
The commission placed Coulston on probation for three years. He also was ordered to pay the commission $3,000 for its expenses.
Coulston must see a therapist at least every two weeks for a year. He must complete 15 hours of continuing education in medical ethics and the non-psychiatric treatment of mental health patients.
During probation, Coulston also must have an approved female chaperon present during all examinations and treatments of female patients. Coulston can ask the commission this month to modify the restrictions and allow him to treat female patients over age 65 without a chaperon.
The doctor also isn’t allowed to have social contact with patients. Coulston can’t go on a date, eat a meal or go to a party with a patient.
He also can’t treat someone with whom he has had a social relationship.
Coulston “shall not accept gifts from patients,” the panel’s order states. “He shall not engage in talk of a sexual nature with patients, except as necessary in the treatment of that patient.”
The doctor also isn’t allowed to provide primary mental health therapy to mental patients.
In 1992, one other complaint was filed against Coulston, but that was closed after no cause for action was found.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: SANCTIONS During probation, Dr. Coulston: Must see a therapist at least every two weeks for a year. Must complete medical ethics courses. Must have an approved female chaperone present during all examinations and treatments of female patients.