Washington Hand Surgeon Reveals He Had Sex With Patients, Is Sanctioned by Medical Commission

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A former Tacoma orthopedic doctor has admitted to state medical authorities he had sexual relationships with about 10 patients more than 20 years ago. The state has taken disciplinary action against the doctor, though none of the victims has come forward.

Hand surgeon Ian B. Lawson, who apparently last practiced with MultiCare in Tacoma, reported the relationships to the state Medical Commission in May. He said he couldn't recall the identities of the patients.

Lawson, who is in his 60s, was issued his Washington medical license in 1997.

In 1998, Lawson engaged in his first sexual encounter with a patient, he reported to the commission. The patient relationships lasted until about 2000.

On Thursday, MultiCare told The News Tribune the health care system employed Lawson from 2010 to 2019.

None of the patients filed complaints, commission spokeswoman Stephanie Mason said Wednesday. The identities of the patients, who are female, are unknown, she said.

In March 2019, Lawson ceased practicing medicine to seek treatment for what he termed an impulsivity disorder that led him to cross patient boundaries, according to the commission. He spent about 16 weeks in residential and inpatient treatments.

In October 2019, Lawson reported the patient relationships and treatment to the commission.

Lawson's sexual contact with his patients constituted unprofessional conduct for him, as it would any doctor, under the state's statutes. The commission informally disciplined Lawson and placed sanctions on his license.

One of those sanctions is that he must notify any new patient of his previous sexual misconduct. Lawson still has an active physician and surgeon license with the state, last renewed in May.

The commission also is requiring Lawson to complete an intensive boundaries course, write a scholarly paper on maintaining appropriate boundaries with patients, pay $3,000 in expense recovery to the state and other actions.

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