Health & Family

Medical board clears physician accused of improper touching

Dr. Jeffrey Rosenfeld, former director of the Carolinas Neuromuscular/ALS Center, was cleared Friday of allegations that he inappropriately touched medical students under his supervision.

He was given a reprimand by the N.C. Medical Board, but the state agency dismissed its earlier allegations that Rosenfeld had performed physical exams of three female students for “personal gratification.”

Friday's consent order, signed by both Rosenfeld and the board, says “no intentional conduct of an inappropriate nature occurred.” A reprimand is one of the least serious disciplinary actions the board can take.

Also in the order, Rosenfeld apologized for “any feeling of apprehension, embarrassment or discomfort” students may have felt and promised not to perform physical exams on students in the future. Rosenfeld has explained that he offered students the option of being examined by him so he could demonstrate the proper method of conducting physical exams to diagnose medical problems.

The board said “some educational benefit” could be derived from a supervisor performing an examination of a student, but the “benefit is outweighed by the potential harm,” and it is “not a common practice in academic medicine.”

Rosenfeld, 51, was fired in May 2007 by Carolinas Medical Center, where he was also chairman of the neurology department. According to court documents, the hospital said at least three students had complained that Rosenfeld touched them inappropriately. Rosenfeld sued his former employer for breach of contract and defamation of character, but later dropped the suit.

In Friday's consent order, the medical board said Rosenfeld has “a longstanding record of quality care and is “held in high esteem by his peers and patients.” Numerous colleagues, patients and former students wrote to the board to attest to Rosenfeld's competence and professionalism, the order said. They said Rosenfeld's offer to examine students applied to both males and females and was an option, not required.

“I've said from the beginning that I was not guilty of what the hospital said I was guilty of,” Rosenfeld told the Observer. “With the proper investigation that the board did, the truth comes out.”

Officials at Carolinas Medical Center have declined to comment.

Rosenfeld said he was pleased that the board said there could be value in having a supervisor perform physical exams on students. “But I certainly agree that it shouldn't be continued in light of the potential for misinterpretation.”

In recent months, Rosenfeld accepted a job as chief of the division of neurology at the Fresno campus of the University of California San Francisco. Pending medical board action, he said that offer has been “on hold.”