Such Irony Dept: Psychiatrist suspended for missing his own mental evaluation
February 4, 2013
The state medical board suspended the license of a Mill Valley psychiatrist Thursday for failing to show up for a mandatory psychiatric examination.
The board ordered Dr. Brent Taylor Cox to get the test last year after a complaint that he "may be suffering from a substance addiction disorder and/or other mental impairment that may affect his ability to practice medicine safely," according to board documents.
The board said Cox did not arrive for his scheduled exam, even though it sent him notices by certified and first-class mail to three addresses and emailed the notice to his Gmail account. The board also sent an investigator to his addresses to serve the letter, but "no one answered the door," board documents said.
Regulators moved to discipline Cox, and he appeared for a hearing in November with his attorney, Mitchell Green of San Francisco. Cox agreed to a settlement in which the board suspends his license and gives him 30 days to get the psychiatric testing.
Green said the whole dispute exists because Cox never received the initial order to get the psychiatric exam. Cox was in the middle of changing his office location at the time and was no longer using the same Gmail address, but he neglected to update his email address with the board, Green said.
"If Dr. Cox is to blame for anything here, it is not to put in a forwarding address," he said. "This is strictly a post office snafu."
By the time Cox found out he was required to get an exam, the regulatory machine was already grinding inexorably toward disciplinary action, according to Green. Cox has always been willing to get the examination and still is, he said.
The public documents in the case offer no specifics about the claims of addiction or impairment. Green said the medical board can order any doctor to be tested based on any complaint, regardless of its merit.
Cox, reached by telephone Thursday, said the allegation is based on an uncorroborated claim, and that he will contest it.
"The medical board is not subject to the due process that the criminal defendant would be entitled to," he said.
If the exam determines Cox is fit to practice medicine safely, the suspension will be lifted. If he fails to get the exam within 30 days without a valid reason, his license will be revoked. If he has a valid reason for a delay, but still fails to get the test in 90 days, his license will be revoked anyway.
Cox has been licensed in California since 1977, and the medical board's website reports no prior history of regulatory discipline. He earned his medical degree in 1976 at the University of Chicago.
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