Doctors Behaving Badly: Hawaii psychiatrist hides from sex abuse troubles with "mahalo" from state

Published on
June 9, 2010

The Hawaii Professional and Vocational Licensing division could not possibly make it harder to find information about a doctor's misdeeds.

In 2010, with every conceivable type of document available online, the home state of our current president – himself by all accounts a technologically savvy person – presents patients a confusing and misleading maze of information. Its home page offers no clue as to where one might even find a doctor's license number. There is a reference to the Hawaii Medical Board but no link. When you click on FAQs, you are presented with a series of pages that look like they are solely for people who have MDs, not for people trying to find out about their doctors. Only at the very end of Page 8 does the document provide a link promising a "License and Business Complaints History Search." The link,, does not work.

After 20 minutes, Antidote found its way to a license search page. Enter "harold goldberg" and you will be told there is nothing in the database. Enter "goldberg" and scroll through all the names until you see his name. Prepare to be underwhelmed. There are literally six facts provided, including the fact that he is an "individual."

Here are some of the facts that are missing. Dr. Harold Goldberg is a psychiatrist who once practiced in Massachusetts. While there, according to Boston Magazine, he frequently violated the doctor-patient boundary.

Another psychiatrist, Harold Goldberg, settled four sex-abuse cases in Massachusetts before moving to Hawaii, where he continued to practice. In a deposition in a case brought against him, he was asked whether a North Shore patient with whom he had had sex in Massachusetts ever lied to him.

"Yes," Goldberg replied.

"And when?" the lawyer asked.

"She told me she'd never sue me for malpractice."

He was suspended by the state Department of Mental Health for having an 11-year sexual relationship with one patient. And the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine took his license away. And yet, in Hawaii, Goldberg has practiced without any license restrictions. He has even been hired as an expert witness in, believe it or not, a sexual assault case.

Of course this makes sense. How would an attorney be able to challenge Goldberg's credentials if the Hawaii Medical Board has done everything in its power to obscure his past from view?

Final question: Is there some small incentive that health reform could play in gently forcing boards like Hawaii's to get in line with most of the rest of the country and make it simple for patients to find much needed details about their physicians? Or, is this yet another argument for making the National Practitioner Data Bank open to everyone?

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