‘Prominent’ AIDS Specialist, Former PACHA Chair Accused by California Regulators of Sexually Molesting Patients
The Medical Board of California has accused Dr. R. Scott Hitt, president of the American Academy of HIV Medicine and former chair of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS, of sexually molesting two male patients at his Beverly Hills, Calif., medical office, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to the state medical board's formal accusation, after a complaint was filed in August 2000, Hitt admitted to touching the genitals of one patient in August 2000 and "crossing a boundary" with another patient in July 2000. In an interview yesterday, Hitt said he did some things he "regret[ted]" after he was diagnosed with cancer in July 1999. He said he was "under physical and psychological stress" and that his judgment was "impaired" during that time. Hitt, who is now in remission from his cancer, resigned in 2000 as a partner at the Pacific Oaks Medical Group in Beverly Hills, attended a "rehabilitation and recovery program" and has not seen any patients since the complaint was filed. The medical board has charged Hitt with "grossly negligent" behavior, "incompetent" medical care of the two patients and committing "dishonest and corrupt acts." The board has asked for the revocation or suspension of Hitt's medical license or for other actions "deemed appropriate by the board." According to the Times, doctors in such cases can either agree to the discipline or ask an administrative law judge to hear the case. Although the judge can make a recommendation on the case, the medical board makes the final decision on any disciplinary action. "It would be a terrible shame if this is what [Hitt] is remembered for," Martin Delaney, founder of the San Francisco HIV/AIDS treatment and advocacy agency Project Inform, said, adding, "Whatever misdeeds he committed have to be weighed against the good that he has done and continues to do. He's an important member of our community" (Allen, Los Angeles Times, 9/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.