A New Jersey neurologist accused of sleeping with a patient he himself had diagnosed as suffering from a mild brain injury has been stripped of his license by the NJ State Board of Medical Examiners.
Dr. Jonathan Fellus allegedly began a sexual relationship with the victim in 2008 after she had been injured in a car accident of February of that year. She reportedly suffered from episodes of “weakness, collapse, seizure, emotional maladjustment, and physical injury” as a result of that accident. A neuropsychologist recommended she see Fellus, and their affair lasted until March 2009, when he cut off relations with her.
Fellus had diagnosed the woman with post-traumatic stress disorder as well as mild brain injury.
Fellus operated a facility called Advanced NeuroCare and was chief medical officer for the International Brain Research Foundation. In this capacity he was often consulted by radio and television talk shows, including in connection with the case of the “brain-dead” 13-year-old girl Jahi McMath.
Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman told NBC Philadelphia:
The facts clearly show that Dr. Fellus engaged in a relationship with this patient, even though he knew or should have known she was suffering a diagnosed cognitive disorder and was physically debilitated by injuries she suffered in a car accident. This relationship violated long-standing ethical standards and a specific Board of Medical Examiners rule prohibiting sexual contact between physicians and their patients.
Fellus was placed on administrative leave once an investigation began and resigned in 2011.
Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Steve Lee said, “The Board of Medical Examiners’ prohibition of sexual contact with patients is intended to protect those who are vulnerable and who are attempting to heal. The Board of Medical Examiners took the right action by revoking the license of this physician for violating this essential requirement.”
The Board itself said the way Fellus acted “constituted gross malpractice, professional misconduct, lack of good moral character, and failure to comply with the Board’s rule prohibiting sexual conduct with a patient.”
Fellus is required to transfer his patients to new doctors within 30 days and pay $10,000 in fines and $34,450 in costs to the state. He may be able to be reinstated in 2017.