Contraindications: Dr. Lawrence James Williamson

Published on
June 10, 2009

Every doctor is entitled to a bad day, even a bad week.

Dr. Lawrence James Williamson (California License No. 73495), a family doctor in Windsor, Calif., has been having a very bad year.

In May 2008, Williamson was told he was not entitled to what he apparently thought was a free brunch at a Las Vegas hotel. He did something many denied a free meal have considered doing. He threw a fit, according to the Medical Board of California.

The hotel called the cops, and, as they were escorting Williamson out of the hotel, he became unresponsive. Instead of heading to the police station, they headed to the ER.

While there, Williamson "was combative and uncooperative." He had to be sedated. That same month, Williamson was pulled over after his car crossed a double line. He was cited. About an hour later, he faxed a letter to the police department, "falsely asserting that he was exempt from traffic laws because he was a physician responding to a medical emergency," the board wrote.

In September 2008, Williamson and his ex-wife got into it. He had been trying to give medication to his 5-year-old child, who is autistic. The child refused, and Williamson popped some pills of his own, drank some wine and passed out, the board wrote. He also managed to send some threatening text messages to his wife, according to the board. Those resulted in criminal charges.

In October 2008, Williamson showed up at his son's psychiatrist's office, "disheveled, unshaven, angry, pressured and insistent," the board wrote. The psychiatrist filed a complaint with the medical board.

In February 2009, Williamson was arrested after threatening to hurt two different mediators assigned to his divorce and custody case. He also broke a restraining order barring him from contacting his ex-wife, and he refused to comply with a court-ordered competency evaluation.

A court commissioner ordered Williamson to submit to random drug tests and to abstain from using drugs. Yet, that same month, Sonoma County sheriff's deputies "observed Dr. Williamson to be under the influence of unknown substances at a court appearance," the board wrote. He had to be driven home by someone from his office.

Williamson attempted to offer a valid, if alarming, excuse for his behavior. He told the medical board that he had been suffering from panic attacks and dissociative episodes.

Somehow the board got a hold of his ex-girlfriend, who confirmed that he had these waking blackouts, "during which he does not make sense and later has no memory of the events," the board wrote. He even agreed, at first, to undergo a voluntary psychiatric evaluation, but then he refused.

After the board issued an order forcing him to be evaluated, he relented. The psychiatrist concluded that he suffered from bipolar disorder and that his "psychiatric condition impairs his ability to function and practice with safety to the public at this time," according to the board.

Now, haven't we all had occasion to shout at a spouse? Show up unkempt for an appointment? Send an ill-advised text message? Rant and flail and wreak havoc in an emergency room to the point that we end up being tranquilized like a rogue rhinoceros?

The Medical Board of California thinks that all of that in combination adds up to something dangerous for patients and suspended Williamson's license. In April 2009, the board started the process of revoking it.

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