This might be a first: A Seattle doctor is suspended for sexting during surgery

Medical authorities have suspended the license of a Seattle anesthesiologist for allegedly sending explicit “selfies” and exchanging sexy text messages during surgeries.

The findings against 47-year-old Arthur K. Zilberstein, released Monday by the Washington state Department of Health, detail nearly 250 text messages with sexual innuendo he exchanged during procedures — all kinds of procedures, including Cesarean deliveries, pediatric appendectomies, epidurals, tubal ligations, cardiac-probe insertions.

He compromised patient safety with his “preoccupation with sexual matters” from at least April through August 2013, Washington state health authorities said Monday.

During a cardiac probe insertion procedure, he allegedly exchanged 26 text messages “including explicit sexual comments,” according to the official statement of charges.

During a stomach surgery, he reportedly exchanged 45 texts “with sexual innuendo” in less than an hour and a half. And he’s accused of exchanging 18 “with sexual innuendo” during a Cesarean — in one of which, he texted: “I’m hella busy with C sections.”

In one of Zilberstein’s texts in July 2013, he reportedly invited his girlfriend to come to the hospital where he was working and told her he would let her into the doctors’ lot so she wouldn’t have to pay for parking. Not two hours later, he texted her again and told her — in detail — of his immediate sexual urge for her, according to the charges.

And then there were the picture sexts. Zilberstein allegedly sent selfies to a patient while wearing his hospital badge and scrubs — with his genitals exposed. The images were accompanied by some risque messages. In one text, he wrote: “Oh. And my partner walked in as I was pulling up my scrubs. I’m pretty sure he caught me.”

He is also accused of looking at private medical records for his own sexual gratification, having sexual rendezvous at work and issuing at least 29 unauthorized prescriptions.

A phone call and e-mails sent to Zilberstein seeking comment Monday evening were not immediately returned to The Washington Post.

Zilberstein has been in practice since 1995, public records show. He worked at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, which released a statement on Monday:

Once we learned that the State had suspended this physician’s medical license, the physician’s Medical Staff membership and privileges were immediately suspended. We just recently learned of these allegations and are conducting our own internal review of the physician, who is not directly employed by Swedish.

Zilberstein will not be permitted to practice medicine in Washington until his charges are resolved. He has 20 days to respond to the charges and request a hearing.

Lindsey Bever is a national news reporter for The Washington Post. She writes for the Morning Mix news blog. Tweet her: @lindseybever
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