Physician accused of sexual misconduct has Iowa license restored

By: - November 25, 2020 10:30 am

The Iowa Board of Medicine has sanctioned three Iowa doctors for competency issues. (Photo courtesy of the Iowa Board of Medicine)

The Iowa Board of Medicine has restored the medical license of an Iowa physician accused of sexual misconduct with his co-workers and a patient.

The medical license of Dr. Jeffrey T. Zoelle, a 59-year-old physician who formerly practiced family medicine in Sioux City and Sergeant Bluff, has been restored by the board to full privileges, free and clear of all restrictions.

In 2018, Zoelle entered into a settlement agreement with the board after being accused of engaging in sexual misconduct and sexual harassment between 2011 and 2016. Specifically, the board had alleged Zoelle hugged a female patient during office visits; made comments of a sexual nature to the female patient while providing medical care; and sent Facebook messages with photographs of a sexual nature to the patient.

The board also alleged that Zoelle frequently rubbed female co-workers on the shoulders, back, and waist while they were working together; sent inappropriate Facebook messages and text messages, including photographs of a sexual nature, to his female coworkers; and attempted to kiss a female co-worker, all while practicing medicine in Sergeant Bluff.

As part of that case, Zoelle was issued a citation and warning and ordered to pay a $5,000 civil penalty, with his license placed on probation for a period of three years subject to board monitoring.

Dubuque physician fined for unprofessional conduct

In an unrelated matter, the Board of Medicine has also ordered a 54-year-old physician from Dubuque to pay a $1,500 penalty in response to allegations of making unwanted advances toward a former patient.

The board accused of Dr. Dara Parvin, who once practiced orthopedic surgery in Dubuque, of engaging in unprofessional conduct in violation of the laws and rules governing the practice of medicine in Iowa.

The board alleged that after consuming too much alcohol, Parvin sent suggestive social media messages and made unwanted advances toward a female patient he had briefly seen in his office several years before referring her to another specialist. The board also alleged Parvin sent suggestive text messages and social media messages to, and made inappropriate comments and unwanted advances toward, a colleague and to other co-workers.

Under the terms of a settlement agreement with the board, Parvin was issued a citation and warning and ordered to pay a $1,500 civil penalty.  The board also placed Parvin’s license on probation for a period of two years, subject to professional-boundaries counseling and board monitoring.

Other recent actions by the board include:

  • Dr. Adam B. Smith, a 40-year-old physician who formerly practiced plastic surgery in Sioux City, was accused of professional incompetency; practice harmful and detrimental to the public; unprofessional conduct; inappropriate prescribing; improper management of medical records; and knowingly making misleading, deceptive, untrue or fraudulent representations in the practice of medicine. A hearing on the matter has yet to be scheduled. The specific allegations against Smith are documented in records provided to Smith by the board, but those records are not open to the public. Generally, the board has alleged Smith failed to provide appropriate surgical care to 17 patients in Sioux City between December 2014 and September 2017.
  • Dr. Nisreen Yaghmour, a 36-year-old physician who formerly practiced cardiovascular medicine in Reno, Nevada, entered into an agreement with the Iowa Board of Medicine and was issued a permanent Iowa medical license on Nov. 10.  In 2018, Yaghmour was granted privileges and medical staff membership in the specialty of cardiovascular disease at Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Nevada. In 2019, Saint Mary’s temporarily suspended his privileges. Under the terms of his agreement with the Iowa board, Yaghmour’s first five clinical cardiac electrophysiology cases in Iowa must be proctored by a board-approved physician who specializes in cardiovascular medicine.
  • Dr. Richard L. Dowell, a 54-year-old physician who formerly practiced obstetrics and gynecology in Marshalltown, and currently practices in Missouri, entered into a settlement agreement with the board after being accused of failing to respond to or comply with a board investigation. The board alleged that although Dowell opted to maintain his patients’ medical records upon the closure of his practice in Marshalltown in 2018, several of his former patients were unable to obtain their medical records from Dowell. The board alleged that Dowell failed to appropriately respond to numerous attempts by the board’s investigator to contact him, and failed to respond to a subpoena issued by the board. Dowell has agreed to pay a $7,500 civil penalty.
  • Dr. Joseph X. Latella, a physician who practiced family medicine in Webster City, agreed to settlement with the board one and a half years after pleading guilty to one felony count of making false statements relating to health care matters. Under the terms of his settlement agreement, Latella was issued a citation and warning and he voluntarily surrendered his Iowa medical license. Latella is 77 years old.
  • Dr. Erica N. LeClair, a 41-year-old physician who practices pediatrics in Waterloo, agreed to a settlement with the board after being accused of  unprofessional conduct for inappropriately accessing the medical records of patients who were not under her care. Under the terms of the agreement, LeClair was issued a citation and warning and ordered to pay a $5,000 civil penalty.
  • Dr. Kang Lu, a 42-year-old physician who practiced radiology in Massachusetts, agreed to voluntarily surrender his Iowa medical license after being disciplined by the Massachusetts Board of Medicine for his conviction in Canada for illegally importing firearms into Quebec, Canada; for fraudulently procuring the renewal of his Massachusetts certificate of registration; and for lacking good moral character and engaging in conduct which undermines the public confidence in the integrity of the medical profession. Thirteen other states have suspended or revoked Lu’s license to practice medicine in those states.
  • Dr. Ronald W. Schope, a 74-year-old physician who practiced pulmonary and internal medicine in Dubuque, agreed to a settlement with the board after being accused of prescribing a controlled substance to his wife for a non-acute, non-emergency condition without establishing a physician-patient relationship and maintaining proper documentation in violation of the laws and rules governing the practice of medicine in Iowa. He has been issued a citation and warning and ordered to pay a $1,000 civil penalty.
  • Dr. Ramesh C. Sharma, a 76-year-old physician who now resides in Indiana, agreed to voluntarily surrender his Iowa license after being accused of providing substandard care to a patient by failing to diagnose and treat the person’s stomach ulcer, an allegation he disputed.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.