Psychiatrist Stephen Merritt Raffle reprimanded for discussing real estate deals with patient during sessions
December 4, 2012
MARIN COUNTY -- A Kentfield psychiatrist was reprimanded by state regulators on allegations he used a patient's therapy sessions to talk about the real estate business, the state medical board said.
Dr. Stephen Merritt Raffle was "grossly negligent" and committed "multiple boundary violations" by discussing his business experience and referring the patient to real estate lawyers and lenders, according to a filing by Linda Whitney, executive director of the board.
The board also alleged that Raffle failed to create or maintain therapy records over a period of more than three years, covering about 78 sessions.
Raffle was ordered to take courses in "professional boundaries," medical record keeping and professionalism, the state board said. If he fails to complete the programs, he will have to end his practice.
The state medical board's website describes a public reprimand as a disciplinary action for a "minor violation." Raffle, who has been licensed since 1969, has no other disciplinary record.
Raffle had no comment Friday, his office said.
The patient started seeing Raffle in the aftermath of his father's death and a probate dispute with his uncle. After the patient received counseling for that matter, he alleged that Raffle invited him to continue therapy to receive "financial advice" to help him "get ahead," according to the board's filings.
The patient alleged that the therapy, which continued until 2008, "consisted mainly of discussions about real estate," according to the board's filing.
In 2004, the patient bought a five-unit apartment building, intending to reside in one unit and live off the rental income from the others. Raffle allegedly advised the patient to convert them to condos and directed him to a lender and an attorney.
The patient said he ran out of money before the project was completed, got more money from the same lender, and ran out of money again, the medical board said. When the patient could not get another loan, Raffle allegedly recommended that the patient sign the property over to him and rent back one of the units.
The patient said he declined and stopped seeing Raffle. The medical board, represented by the state Attorney General's Office, filed the accusation in July 2011. Raffle settled by stipulating to a reprimand, and it took effect on Friday.
In addition to his clinical practice, Raffle is a litigation consultant and has taught at the University of California at San Francisco, and the University of California Hastings College of the Law, according to his website.
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