Former Director of Brain Injury Services at West Orange Rehabilitation Center Loses License for Sexual Relationship with Patient
Friday, June 13, 2014 • 5:04pm
WEST ORANGE, NJ - The New Jersey State Board of Medical examiners has revoked the license of Dr. Jonathan L. Fellus, a neurologist, for engaging in a sexual relationship with his female patient between 2008 and 2009 at an unidentified institutional facility in West Orange. In an Oct. 14, 2008 interview with NJ Monthly and Jan. 20, 2011 interview with NPR radio, Fellus was described as "director of brain injury services at Kessler Institute of Rehabilitation in West Orange."
The announcement came today from the Division of Consumer Affairs and states that the woman had a mild brain injury suffered in an automobile accident. The relationship occurred while she was an outpatient under his treatment at a "cognitive rehabilitation program at an institutional facility in West Orange."
“The facts clearly show that Dr. Fellus engaged in a relationship with this patient, even though he knew or should have known she was suffering a diagnosed cognitive disorder and was physically debilitated by injuries she suffered in a car accident,” Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said.
“This relationship violated long-standing ethical standards and a specific Board of Medical Examiners rule prohibiting sexual contact between physicians and their patients.”
After being placed on administrative leave by the facility, Fellus resigned in 2011. Once confirmation of his conduct was received the NJSMB was contacted.
Fellus' most recent work address is Advanced NeuroCare LLC in Flanders, but he has had previous affiliations with Kessler and was Chief Medical Officer for the International Brain Research Foundation.
"The female patient, who was 33 at the time of the relationship, sustained neurological,emotional and physical injuries requiring a specialist's care, and her neuropsychologist referred her to Fellus, the director of brain injury services at the West Orange rehabilitation facility.
Fellus had the responsibility of comprehensively assessing and treating the patient's neurological and brain injuries. Instead, a relationship began in August 2008 that eventually included sexual contact in exam rooms at the rehabilitation center and other locations. The relationship continued through March, 2009, when Fellus "allegedly terminated contact."
During the course of the relationship the patient continued to exhibit symptoms such as collapses and seizures. It was Fellus' determination that his patient had suffered "an apparent mild traumatic brain injury in addition to conditions including elements of post-traumatic stress disorder and episodes resembling features of seizure activity or autonomic dysfunction, among others." The institution’s psychologist also determined that the woman had suffered "neurocognitive dysfunction, post-concussive syndrome, and cognitive disorder.
The Division of Law filed the Attorney General's complaint, which noted:
"The Board ordered the revocation of Fellus’ license following a hearing on June 11, 2014. The Board determined that Fellus’ conduct constituted gross malpractice, professional misconduct, lack of good moral character, and failure to comply with the Board’s rule prohibiting sexual conduct with a patient."
With the revocation of his license, Fellus must transfer all of his current patients to new physicians within 30 days and cannot treat new patients. The Board of Medical Examiners has also ordered Fellus to pay penalty fines in the amounts of $10,000 and $34,450 to the state.
Fellus may apply for reinstatement no sooner than three years from the effective date of the revocation. After three years he can appear before a Board committee, who would determine whether he can resume practice. He must also show proof of continued psychotherapy, including a "comprehensive report from the treating psychologist, and proof of satisfactory completion of Board-approved courses in personal ethics and avoidance of boundary violations."