Doctors Behaving Badly: Family practice doc forced to check his temper

Published on
January 27, 2010

We last heard about Dr. Lawrence James Williamson when he had gone through an extremely bad year of temper tantrums, pill popping, waking blackouts and accusations he threatened his ex-wife and the mediators in his divorce.

Williamson (California License No. 73495), a family doctor in Windsor, Calif., eventually was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and the Medical Board of California declared that his "psychiatric condition impairs his ability to function and practice with safety to the public at this time."

In March 2009, the board temporarily suspended Williamson's license. The next month, the board filed an accusation against Williamson, saying that his mental illness prevented him from safely practicing medicine.

Williamson hired an attorney.

His attorney met with the California justice department attorneys and worked out a deal. Williamson agreed that the state "could establish a prima facie case with respect to the charges and allegations contained in the Accusation and that he has thereby subjected his license to disciplinary action."

Instead of losing his license, Williamson was put on five years of probation. The board said that he could not treat patients until he underwent a psychiatric evaluation that would be provided to the board to prove he was ready to work. He also was ordered to pay weekly visits to a psychiatrist for at least a year.

Williamson can't drink or use any drugs, lest he lose his license. If he is prescribed drugs to treat his psychiatric condition or any other problems, he has to tell the board the name of the doctor prescribing the medicine, the doctor's address, phone number and the medication name. And just in case Williamson tries to talk the pharmacy into an early refill, the board requires him to provide the name, address and phone number of the pharmacy, too.Williamson will have to submit to random drug testing, and if his psychiatrist thinks he's fit to practice, he will have his work checked by a "practice monitor."

Who pays for all this? Williamson. The board places the cost at least $3,173 a year.

Sounds like a bargain.

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