Soldotna surgeon’s license suspended

A Soldotna orthopedic surgeon’s medical license will be suspended effective July 1 after he admitted to engaging in inappropriate conduct with female patients.

Dr. Herbert Bote, founder of SportsMed Alaska in Soldotna, was investigated by the Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing under the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. The president of the Alaska State Medical Board signed an order and consent agreement suspending his medical license on May 5.

According to the consent agreement, Bote’s license will be suspended for 90 days starting July 1 and he will be on probation for the next three years.

In the agreement, Bote admits to inappropriate behavior with two female patients throughout 2015. On one occasion in January 2015, Bote “was flirtatious with (the patient) by asking her if she was a flirt and asking her to phone him if she engaged in masturbation after the appointment,” according to the agreement.

Bote also admitted to engaging in inappropriate text conversations with another patient during January and February 2015 in which he asked her personal questions, including “asking her on a dinner date,” according to the agreement.

Also listed in the agreement is an incident in which Bote kissed the hand of one of the patients, and another time in May 2015 when he hugged the other patient and tried to kiss her on the cheek. While Bote admitted both these actions, he said the patient whom he hugged had “misunderstood his intent,” the agreement states.

The investigation into Bote’s behavior began when he reported himself in July 2015, said Angela Birt, chief investigator for the Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing.

Cases typically come to the state medical board and get routed to the division for investigation, Birt said.

The investigations consist of interviews and fact collection, and investigation materials are reviewed by a panel of licensed physicians on the board, she said. Any discipline handed down is based on what measures have been taken in similar cases in the past, Birt said.

Bote is required to have a third-party chaperone with him while he consults, examines or treats female patients for the duration of his three-year probation. He is also being required to complete 40 hours of additional education on “patient boundaries, patient-physician relationships, and ethics,” according to the consent agreement.

The consent agreement also lists two incidents alleged by the two patients but not admitted by Bote. One patient claims Bote cupped her breast during a shoulder exam in January 2015, and the other alleged that he “rubbed her inner thigh … while looking in her eyes” after her knee surgery in February 2015.

By signing the consent agreement, Bote waived his rights to legal counsel and relieved the Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing of its burden to prove the facts he admitted.

He will be required to pay a civil fine of $10,000, and will have periodic interviews with the state medical board if it requests them, according to the agreement.

A person answering the phone at Bote’s Soldotna office said he was in surgery Friday and that he would not comment. Bote founded SportsMed Alaska in 2014 when he moved to the state, according the practice’s website. According to his biography on the website for Berkshire Orthopaedic Associates Inc. in Massachusetts, Bote did his residency at Loyola University near Chicago and a fellowship in knee, shoulder and sports medicine at the Orthopaedic Specialty Hospital in Utah.

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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