Dr. Keith Ablow was once a prominent psychiatrist; he wrote several books, made numerous television appearances, and served as an assistant clinical professor at Tufts University School of Medicine. However, earlier this year, serious allegations by multiple women under his care for depression resulted in the suspension of his medical license in May 2019 by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine.
The Boston Globe published a deeply troubling account of the allegations in February of this year when three victims filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the former psychiatrist. In their complaint, they stated that they had been seeing Dr. Ablow for treatment of their depression when their relationship turned from a professional to a deeply troubling sexual relationship, during which Ablow would degrade, beat, and control the women. One alleged that Ablow instructed her to get a tattoo of his initials to demonstrate that he “owned” her. Many of these sexual encounters occurred during therapy sessions for which the women were being charged. When one of the victims stated that she was having trouble paying medical bills for the therapy sessions, Ablow suggested she take on additional work as an escort or stripper.
Included in the medical malpractice filings were affidavits from three additional women, all staff members of Ablow’s, stating that he also had inappropriate relationships with them during which he was physically abusive.
Medical malpractice in psychiatry occurs when psychiatrists fail to perform their duties within the standard of “reasonable care.” The most common forms of malpractice committed by psychiatry include failure to accurately assess suicide risk, misdiagnosis, and medication errors.
The allegations made by the women in their claim against Dr. Ablow represent behavior that is far outside what could be considered the standard of care for any practicing psychiatrist.
However, no finder of fact will examine the allegations to determine their validity. Last week, the Globe reported that the three women have reached an out of court settlement in their claims against Ablow. The terms and settlement sums were not disclosed. The attorney representing the three victims declined to comment on the settlement.
In a statement that may be disconcerting to many, Ablow’s attorney did have a comment for the Globe. He stated, “We are pleased that the civil matters have been amicably resolved so that Dr. Ablow can now focus his attention and resources on overturning the Board of Medicine’s order of temporary suspension so that he can restore his medical license and resume helping patients into the future…” The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine, when suspending Ablow’s license in May of this year, stated that he posed an “immediate and serious threat to the public health, safety, and welfare.”