New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners Committee,
within Division of Consumer Affairs, Temporarily
Suspends License of Physician Accused of
Physically Assaulting a Minor
NEWARK – The vice president of the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners, along with a committee of Board members, has taken emergency action to suspend the license of a physician accused of physically assaulting a minor by stabbing the child with the flat metal end of a screwdriver at least 100 times, causing dark bruises and bleeding cuts. The Board of Medical Examiners is a licensing board within the State Division of Consumer Affairs.
The Board committee found that the evidence demonstrates "a clear and imminent danger to the public health, safety and welfare" in ordering Dr. Sylvia S. Lee, of Emerson, to cease medical practice and surrender her New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances registration and Drug Enforcement Administration registration.
The temporary suspension of Lee's license, under an Order of the Board vice president and committee, became effective August 18. The full Board is expected to review the Order and record of the committee proceedings to determine whether to ratify the Order at its next meeting, scheduled for September 14. After ratification, the temporary suspension would remain in effect until the full Board reviews plenary hearings in the matter, after which the Board may decide to impose further discipline if a basis for disciplinary action is found. Lee may appeal the Board's decision to the Superior Court.
"The Board of Medical Examiners takes very seriously its mandate to protect the public's health and safety by determining the qualifications for physicians and disciplining those who do not live up to the required standards," Thomas R. Calcagni, Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, said. "When a physician so dangerously demonstrates a lack of judgment and impulse control, it becomes necessary to prevent that person from practicing."
Prior to the temporary suspension of her license, Lee, an allergist, practiced at The Center for Asthma and Allergy in Old Bridge. The complaint filed by the Office of the Attorney General does not identify the 13-year-old child who is the alleged victim, or the child's relationship with Lee. The complaint notes that the alleged assault took place at Lee's home on July 3, and that Lee was arrested later the same day.
The Order of the Board committee notes that, in a recorded interview at the Emerson Police Department after the arrest, Lee stated the alleged incident began after the minor victim failed to wash "doggie clothes" and a "doggie towel" in the correct order, and that Lee "got angry."
According to the Order, Lee acknowledged stabbing the child multiple times with a flathead screwdriver and said in the police department interview, "I was wrong and that's why I stabbed her so many times." She allegedly admitted this was not the first time she had a problem with anger, recounted that she hit the child in the past, and noted that such an episode happened a few days before when she asked for Scotch tape but the child brought masking tape instead.
The Order further mentions that Lee stated in the police department interview that she jabbed herself with the screwdriver the day before the alleged assault, "as hard as I jabbed (the child)," but that she did not believe she injured herself. The Order notes that photographs showed approximately 100 "bruises and small bleeding punctures or other wounds" on the child's back and other parts of the child's body.
As stated in the Order, the Board had not received patient complaints against Lee. However, the Order states that "Dr. Lee admitted to planning the attack by trying the screwdriver on herself to see how painful it was the day before the incident."
The Board committee stated the alleged conduct demonstrates "a degree of violence, significant lack of impulse control, impaired judgment and cognition," particularly when compared with the "trivial nature of the incident" involving dog clothes that precipitated Lee's disturbing actions.
The Order notes that the Board "can have no assurance that respondent's lack of control will not carry over to the workplace where stressful situations are commonplace with patients and staff." The Board committee found that "no measure short of the temporary suspension of respondent's license will suffice."
Deputy Attorney General Jeri Warhaftig and Deputy Attorney General Wendy Leggett Faulk represented the State in its complaint against Lee.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website, or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.
Follow the Division of Consumer Affairs on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/pages/NJ-Division-of-Consumer-Affairs/112957465445651 ; and check our online calendar of upcoming Consumer Outreach events, at http://www.nj.gov/oag/ca/outreach/.