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Orthopedic Surgeon Admits He Had Sexual Contact with Patients

— September 7, 2021

Hand surgeon reveals to state medical board he had sex with patients years ago.

A former Tacoma, Washington, orthopedic physician has admitted to the state medical board he had sexual relationships with about ten patients twenty years ago.  Orthopedic surgeons diagnose and treat issues with muscles, bones and joints caused by sports injuries, degenerative diseases, tumors, infections, birth defects, and more.

The state has taken disciplinary action against Ian B. Lawson, MD, even though he couldn’t recall the patients’ names and none of them have come forward with claims of victimization.  The orthopedic surgeon practiced with MultiCare in Tacoma from 2010 to 2019 and reported the relationships to the state Medical Commission in May of this year.

Lawson, now in his 60s, received his medical degree from University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine.  He was issued his Washington medical license in 1997.  In 1998, Lawson engaged in his first sexual act with a patient and these actions lasted until about 2000.

“None of the patients filed complaints,” commission spokeswoman Stephanie Mason said. “The identities of the patients, who are female, are unknown.”

Orthopedic Surgeon Admits He Had Sexual Contact with Patients
Photo by Yan Krukov from Pexels

The commission wrote, “In March 2019, Lawson ceased practicing medicine to seek treatment for what he termed an impulsivity disorder that led him to cross patient boundaries.  He spent about 16 weeks in residential and inpatient treatments.”  Then, in October 2019, “Lawson reported the patient relationships and treatment to the commission.  The commission informally disciplined Lawson and placed sanctions on his license.”

Lawson still has an active license with the state, which was last renewed in May.  However, he must report the past misconduct to any new patients in order to continue practicing.  The state of Washington requires the following sanctions be upheld in sexual misconduct cases:

“(1) If a license holder subject to this chapter has been sanctioned by a disciplining authority on or after October 1, 2019, for an act or acts of unprofessional conduct involving sexual misconduct, the license holder or his or her designee must provide a disclosure to any patient scheduled for an appointment with the license holder during the period of time that the license holder is subject to the order or stipulation.  The disclosure must only be provided to a patient at or prior to the patient’s first visit with the license holder following entry of the order or stipulation.; (2) The disclosure must include a copy of the public order or stipulation, a description of all sanctions placed on the license holder by the disciplining authority in the order or stipulation, the duration of all sanctions, the disciplining authority’s telephone number, and an explanation of how the patient can find more information about the license holder on the disciplining authority’s online license information web site.; and (3) The license holder must provide the patient or the patient’s surrogate decision maker as designated under RCW  7.70.065 with the disclosure indicating that the patient has received a copy of the public order or stipulation and is aware the provider has been sanctioned for unprofessional conduct involving sexual misconduct, which must be signed by the patient or a surrogate decision maker.  A copy of the signed disclosure must be maintained in the patient’s file.”

The commission also is requiring Lawson to complete a course on physician-patient boundaries, write a scholarly paper on maintaining boundaries, and pay $3,000.


Washington Hand Surgeon Reveals He Had Sex With Patients, Is Sanctioned by Medical Commission

Dr. Ian B. Lawson, MD

Washington State Legislature

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