County doctor’s license suspended
EAST PALESTINE — An East Palestine man’s medical license was suspended this week because of an affair he had with a co-worker while he worked for the Counseling Center between 2013 and 2015 that included writing her prescriptions for an antidepressant, antibiotics, birth control and other non-controlled substances without keeping a medical record.
Dr. Christopher Seman’s license to practice osteopathic medicine and surgery in the state of Ohio has been suspended for at least one year following a hearing that included testimony and evidence from both Seman and his co-worker who later became his patient, according to the public record on file with the State Medical Board of Ohio.
Seman’s co-worker was not identified in the record, due to the fact that the case considered elements relating to her health, which is protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
According to the medical board report, Seman and the woman –who were both married with children at the time–began developing a friendship while they worked together. The woman was not hired by Seman and was not under his supervision.
As the friendship between Seman and the woman developed, she began confiding in him about her personal life and they began meeting each other outside of work and text messaging each other. The two reportedly talked about whether they would leave their spouses to be together before the relationship turned sexual, with both claiming they would not, according to testimony in the report.
The relationship reportedly turned sexual in the fall of 2013 and continued for 18 months. During that time they would meet for sex after hours at their offices and other locations, including the Canfield fairgrounds, Boardman Holiday Inn, a bed and breakfast in Hubbard, and an office at the agency’s Calcutta location, the report said.
Seman began writing out prescriptions for her in late 2013, with the first one being for birth control pills in December of that year. The two had reportedly discussed the possibility of her becoming pregnant, with neither wanting that to happen due to them both being married to other people.
Seman admitted in his testimony that he did not create a patient chart for her and did not record anywhere that he had written a prescription for her. He also admitted to writing out additional prescriptions for other medications throughout the course of the relationship, although he said that he was not aware that doing so meant she was his patient. He later acknowledged that she had become his patient, however, according to the record.
“I lost objectivity when I wrote for the first time for her. I lost objectivity before I even wrote these prescriptions for her. The whole relationship was a loss of objectivity. It was a boundary violation, not just from a doctor/patient perspective but from a professional-person-you-work-with perspective having relationships with people at work,” Seman said in his testimony.
In turn, the woman said in her testimony that she began to feel more dependent on him throughout the relationship and admitted to seeing less of her primary care physician.
She also said that around July or August of 2014 she attempted to end the relationship and that while Seman initially respected her wishes, they later reconciled the relationship.
Meanwhile, Seman also said in his testimony that she told him it was a “deal breaker” if he would not leave his wife, and that he began to back away from the relationship after telling her that was not possible, although he clarified that he didn’t end the relationship with her.
The woman said in her testimony that she did not give Seman an ultimatum about leaving his wife and family but that he began to discuss more of a commitment after she attempted to end the relationship.
By January of 2015, the woman told Seman that she thought she was pregnant, and he gave her a pregnancy test to take. After receiving a positive result from that, Seman then ordered her a blood test to confirm the result, which was also positive.
The relationship ended shortly after that and the woman allegedly said she made the decision to have an abortion. Seman said in his testimony that he did not want her to have an abortion.
Seman told the clinical director about his relationship with the woman and the fact that she was pregnant on or around Feb. 26, 2015, which was two days after he told his wife, the board report stated.
He reported the relationship to the state medical board in March 2015 after learning that the woman was indeed his patient as a result of writing out prescriptions for her during the relationship. He resigned his position from the Counseling Center in May 2015.
The state medical board voted on Wednesday to impose a “one-year indefinite suspension” of Seman’s license, which is the minimum under the board’s guidelines regarding a sexual misconduct offense.
Seman can apply for reinstatement or restoration of his license after one year, and if his license is reinstated, he will be placed under probation for at least a year.
He can also appeal the decision.