A Brainerd psychiatrist, Dr. Richard O. Walker Jr., was reprimanded for unprofessional and unethical conduct.
Walker's license to practice medicine in Minnesota was restricted by the Complaint Review Committee of the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, according to a release by the board today.
Walker, 46, was unable to be reached for comment.
The reprimand stems from psychiatric services Walker provided to an approximately 21-year-old female patient from May 23 to Sept. 8, 1997. The medical board reported the patient had a history of depression and mixed substance abuse and Walker provided medical management of psychiatric medication following a referral from the patient's therapist.
It was that management of the patient that raised concerns with the medical board.
The board stated Walker "failed to maintain appropriate boundaries" with the patient and her family during and after his treatment of her. Walker "was involved in a personal relationship with (the patient's) mother on or before Sept. 8, 1997, until the end of December 1997."
Walker was prescribing Prozac and refills for the client during the same time period.
The medical board reported Walker "failed to appreciate how the personal relationship he engaged in with (the patient) and her mother might negatively impact" the patient's course of therapy. He also failed to appropriately and clearly terminate his therapeutic relationship with the patient, the medical board findings stated.
In the board's order, Walker was stated to have acknowledged there was not a record documenting a formal termination of the professional relationship with the patient even through he stopped seeing the patient as her psychiatrist when he became friends with her mother.
Walker was reprimanded by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice and was ordered to successfully complete a pre-approved "boundaries" course within nine months.
Boundaries courses cover a broad range of issues and can be tailor-made to the physician and the incident. Walker was also ordered to pay a civil penalty of $5,000 within one year as partial reimbursement of the board's investigative costs.
Upon completion of those requirements, Walker may petition for reinstatement of an unconditional license to practice medicine in the state.
Walker had a previous issue with the board. On June 22, 1992, Walker entered into an order with the medical board based on chemical dependency and self-prescribing that required him, among other things, to abstain from the use of alcohol or mood-altering chemicals.
On Nov. 13, 1993, the board determined Walker had satisfied the terms of the order and an unconditional license was approved. Walker has been licensed to practice medicine in Minnesota since November 1984.
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