Updated June 1, 2023 - 9:32 pm
A state board investigating allegations of misconduct by a Las Vegas OB-GYN heard a woman testify on Thursday that the doctor offered to pay her $1,000 for nude photos after she told him she was struggling financially.
“It was really hard … sorry,” the former patient said, her voice breaking. “It was a really hard thing because I considered it. It was hard because I was struggling for money at the time, and to have something like that presented to me, and then to turn it down, was hard, I think.”
The woman, named as “Patient C,” was the last of three former patients of Dr. George Chambers to speak, without being identified for privacy, before the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners over the past month.
The board’s hearing, which was held online, is set to continue Friday with questions from Chambers and final arguments from the doctor, who is representing himself, and the board’s general counsel.
Chambers denies he acted inappropriately and argues that the complaints from the women are based on misunderstandings. At a hearing May 4, he accused one of them of “grandstanding” and making “salacious” statements against him.
The complaint includes the statements by Patient A, who accused Chambers of causing her lasting pain when he attempted to insert his entire hand in her vagina, which she alleged amounted to sexual assault, and Patient B, who like Patient C said he offered her $1,000 to stand naked for photos for advertisements to promote his cosmetic gynecology specialty.
The board’s complaint accuses Chambers of engaging in conduct that violates the trust of a patient and the relationship with a patient, and exploits the relationship with the patient for financial or other personal gain, continual failure to practice medicine properly and disreputable conduct.
Patient C said at the hearing that she saw Chambers four or five times between September and November of 2019, originally for extremely painful menstrual periods.
She said she based her decision to pick him as her OB-GYN from a female friend’s recommendation, reading some “excellent” online reviews and what her insurance would cover.
‘A thousand dollars to take photos’
She said she mentioned to Chambers at his office that with being financially strapped, she was “always concerned whether it was going to be covered by my insurance.”
Chambers’ office called her at home one afternoon to report tests results from her last visit and shortly afterwards, Chambers himself telephoned her, during which “he had offered me money, a thousand dollars to take photos.”
While talking to her on the phone, “he had presented that it was an opportunity to help.”
“That was something I inquired about, and if I remember correctly, he just said that I was going to be a model,” she said. “And then when I had asked him why, because I didn’t understand, he just assured me the price of the amount I was going to be paid for it and said, like, it’ll be OK.”
Patient C she then felt “uncomfortable with it being somewhat implied that it would be nude, because I was worried about distribution of, like, how could I protect myself in an environment if you know these kinds of photos were being shared. I wanted to make sure that I was protected, essentially.”
‘I think it still affects me’
The former patient was “pretty upset” with her friend who recommended him “and then experiencing something like that from him. I wanted her to be aware of his character as well.”
Brandee Mooneyhan, board deputy general counsel, asked Patient C how it affected her.
“I think it still affects me,” she said, adding that “it’s progressed over time.
“It then affected my relationship with my friend who I cared about and who had a more intimate procedure with him,” she said. “That was hard because I felt like I had really done my research and felt confident in choosing Dr. Chambers as a physician.”
From that experience, “my lack of trust in physicians has just really changed since then,” she said.
Chamber’s main defense witness was Dr. Michael Goodman, an award-winning gynecologist and surgeon based in Sacramento, California, who specializes in women’s genital plastic and cosmetic surgery, and who has known Chambers for many years.
‘I wouldn’t do it that way’
Goodman defended Chambers’ conduct, telling the board that the patients complaining about him may have been puzzled after their appointments about the procedures they needed and because of sensitivities concerning their own sexual lives.
“Sometimes there’s confusion afterward and sometimes there is embarrassment afterward,” Goodman said.
For instance, he said, a patient will discuss aspects of the visit with other people. “And then when they admit something to their trusted provider, something that’s very personal, especially something that’s sexually personal, and then they go to explain it, it gets very confused,” he said. “And they get very defensive that, ‘Oh my goodness, I’m saying that I was not happy in my sexual relationship.’”
Under questioning by the Deputy Board Counsel Donald White, Goodman said that he would not have asked his patients to pose for nude photographs used in advertising and marketing materials for his practice.
“I wouldn’t do it that way,” he said. “No, that’s no my style, but that doesn’t mean it brings dishonor to the profession. That doesn’t mean it’s entirely inappropriate.”