Dr. Tulsibhai Pipalia admits he did something stupid inside his office back in the summer of 2010. He propositioned a patient for oral sex and then exposed himself.
The patient went to police and the Tampa doctor was charged with exposure of a sexual organ. The charge was dismissed when Dr. Pipalia completed a pre-trial diversion program for first time offenders.
LINK: Watch a clip of the TPD interview with Dr. Pipalia
Although the criminal charge was behind him, the Florida Department of Health launched its own investigation a short time later. The Administrative Complaint charged the doctor, who specializes in Internal medicine, with several counts of engaging in sexual misconduct with a patient.
But nearly four years later, the doctor still has not been disciplined by the state. Several settlement agreements have been drafted, and then rejected by either the doctor or The Florida Board of Medicine, which must approve any settlement.
Some Members of the board are concerned Dr. Pipalia is still seeing female patients, even with a chaperone in the room.
"This clearly rises to the level that he should never see a female patient, period," said Dr. James Orr, who is member of Florida's Board of Medicine.
"Dr. Pipalia is not a construction worker, said Dr. Magdalena Averhoff at a Board of Medicine meeting earlier this month near Orlando. "I think that you cannot equate sexual misconduct of a physician with sexual misconduct in other professions that doesn't involve the intimacy required in medicine."
The doctor's license is still listed as clear and active with no discipline on file.
We tried to talk with Dr. Pipalia after The Board of Medicine heard his case earlier this month, but his lawyer told us he did not want to comment.
"This is a tough case, it's a one event and he's admitted to it," said Jay Wolfson, a professor of public health and medicine at USF. Wolfson says he is surprised by the doctor's actions, but not surprised that the case has taken so long to resolve.
"The board of medicine has to follow its own rules. It's probably stymied and probably saying, ‘why can't we move faster?' It's because the administrative legal process is slow…it takes months and years."
Tonight at 10:30: Doug Smith will have more on why the doctor has not been suspended, and is still allowed to see female patients.
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