A cosmetic surgeon who took an intimate photograph of a patient to add to his album of ‘unusual’ genitalia has been banned for three months.
Dr Erik Scholten was about to replace the anaesthetised woman’s breast implants when he apparently noticed a rare characteristic.
Scholten suggested other women might want a corrective operation and indicating the woman’s vagina he said to a nurse ‘Look at hers, she’s not complaining.’
He then produced his iphone, and pulled aside the woman’s surgical pants to take a a picture of her on his iphone.
The father-of-two, who is a specialist in female genital cosmetic surgery, told the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service he ‘only took one photograph.’
Scholten, who has a ‘super specialist’ interest in women’s vaginas, planned put the picture in his portfolio of genitalia to show other patients who were dissatisfied by their bodies.
The private surgeon was suspended from the Fitzwilliam Hospital in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire after the matron ‘dragged him like a naughty schoolboy’ to apologise to the woman and her husband.
The husband wanted to punch the surgeon after he found out what had happened.
Scholten explained he had taken the photograph because there was an unusual amount of skin around the woman’s clitoral hood.
The panel, chaired by Dr Malcolm Phillips, found his actions ‘brought the profession into disrepute’ and suspended his registration for three months.
Dr Phillips said: ‘The panel has had regard to all the evidence put forward in mitigation.
‘It has noted the overwhelming evidence that you are a skilled and dedicated doctor who has a valuable contribution to make to the medical profession.
‘Notwithstanding this, the panel has a duty to maintain public confidence in the profession.
‘The panel has concluded that a period of suspension will send the right message to you and to the profession that your behaviour has been unacceptable.
‘Furthermore, it will be sufficient to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour and to maintain confidence in the medical profession.
‘The panel has therefore determined to suspend your registration for a period of three months, which it considers is a proportionate and appropriate sanction.’
The ban will take effect in 28 days, unless the doctor lodges an appeal, but the panel imposed an immediate order of suspension to stop Scholten working until then.
Scholten was temporarily suspended by the GMC in April 2012, but allowed to return to work following a High Court ruling in January this year.
The surgeon told the hearing the incident has had a ‘catastrophic’ effect on his life.
He is now bankrupt, has had his BMW repossessed and has been forced to sell his three-storey Bedford home.
‘It was wrong. I took a photograph without her consent. I got carried away by my super specialist interest and I’m fully aware that was wrong,’ he said
‘It was a devastating episode in my life and perhaps also in the patient’s life and I’m therefore grateful the GMC have not asked the patient to appear here as a witness because that would have been devastating for her.
‘She has expressed the feeling she didn’t want my career to be ruined over this.’
The woman had the operation to change her PIP breast implants at the Peterborough private hospital, run by Ramsey Health Care, on February 27 last year.
She gave her consent for the surgeon to capture before and after photographs of her breasts and was taken into the theatre where she was anaesthetised.
When nurse Denise Jackman quizzed the doctor over the image he told her it was fine as the patient could not be identified from the picture of her genitals.
‘I was surprised she was exposed in that area. It was surreal. I could not quite believe it had happened and it stunned me,’ Miss Jackman said in a statement.
The patient said afterwards: ‘I feel I have lost my trust in the profession.
‘I have an unrelated operation coming up and I’m just really nervous about it wondering what might happen.’
Just days after the operation, on March 5, Dr Scholten made a phone call to a ‘stunned’ patient to tell her he had been suspended.
On the same day she received a letter from his solicitor apologising ‘unreservedly’ and stating he had taken the photo to put in a portfolio of women’s genitalia to show to other patients.
It read: ‘I am always adding to my portfolio of different female genitalia to show prospective patients and I was hoping, with your consent, to do so with yours.
‘I would have discussed this with you and, of course, had you objected, I would have disposed of the imagery immediately.’
At the time of the incident, Scholten was a self-employed private surgeon who practiced at a number of hospitals in and around London.