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Doctors Behaving Badly: Kentucky weight loss doctor ordered to reform his battering ways

Doctors Behaving Badly: Kentucky weight loss doctor ordered to reform his battering ways

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When most men beat their spouse or girlfriend, they have to contend with the consequences. What will their wife say at work about that black eye? What will their girlfriend tell the ER doc when asked how she broke her arm?

Dr. Alex Argotte, a bariatric surgery specialist in Paducah, Kentucky, was accused not only of beating his girlfriend – repeatedly – but also of sneaking her into a hospital to give her an X-ray and check the damage done.

His girlfriend, whom he met while she was working as a surgical technician at Lourdes Hospital, accused Argotte of all the classic abusive boyfriend behaviors. Argotte has denied the allegations.

The allegations by her and her father are detailed in Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure documents:

Telling her that she "should not have anything to do with her family and friends." Check.

Preventing her from calling her mother more than once a week. Check.

"Demanding that she kill herself." Check.

Argotte allegedly broke her nose on one occasion and shoved her down the stairs on another. He allegedly prescribed her addictive drugs, "with the premeditated intent of making her dependent on them in order to weaken her self-reliance and independence."

When couples fight, they sometimes say things they don't mean. They sometimes tell their friends or family members things about their significant other that they later regret. The board obviously took that into consideration when bringing in a psychiatrist to evaluate Argotte before letting the psychiatrist read anything the board had turned up in its investigation.

The psychiatrist declared that Argotte was basically a great guy who made the mistake of dating a patient.

Then the board handed over the evidence. Like the domestic violence protective order a judge granted against Argotte, an order he fought only to have it upheld by the Kentucky Court of Appeals.  The board also turned over emails the couple had sent each other.

The psychiatrist changed his tune. "The information in these documents was quite revealing," he wrote. "It also underscores the limitations of self-reported history."  He raised "serious concern about character logic (personality disorder) factors as well as a possible substance abuse problem." He recommended psychotherapy, domestic violence therapy, addiction therapy and abstinence from all drugs and alcohol.

Argotte then completed a "Domestic Violence Offender/Batterer Intervention Program," a "Prescribing Controlled Drugs" course and a "Maintaining Proper Boundaries Course."

How much time did he have to stop practicing to take those courses? Three months.

But in May 2010, the board also issued a clear order that Argotte should have no contact or communication with his ex-girlfriend.

Final question: Should a domestic dispute like this even be weighed by the medical board? If Argotte had only been accused of beating his girlfriend, the board may have left it up to the courts to decide his fate. But because the ex-girlfriend was also a patient, how he treated her opened a window to how he may treat other patients. The Kentucky board may have gone easy on Argotte, but the board also makes it easy for patients to read the details of cases like his. It is rare to find a set of board documents with this much context and supporting information. Are you listening, Kansas?


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I am a former patient of Dr. Argotte's. If all of these things are true I am really disappointed. But Dr. Argotte saved my life. My insurance dropped him when all this happened but I would like to make an appointment with him. Is he still practicing? How can I get in touch with him. I would appreciate any help you can give me.

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Dr. Argotte was a great surgeon. He was nothing but professional any time I saw him. He not only changed my life forever, with the surgery, he saw that I understood everything.
He wanted me to understand this was not just any surgery, but this was a life time commitment. My life was forever changed, now I am very health, even after 13 years!
I know he did things that might not have been professional, but he was an excellent surgeon, I would continue to see him as my doctor.

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