Santa Rosa Kaiser OB-GYN loses license for affair with nurse who was patient

Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa Medical Center in Santa Rosa, California (ALVIN JORNADA / PD FILE) 2017


The state Medical Board has revoked the license of a Santa Rosa doctor, saying he entered into a sexual relationship with one of his patients at the Kaiser Permanente medical group, the regulatory agency announced Wednesday.

The Medical Board of California, which licensed Dr. Austin Kooba in April 2000, officially revoked the OB-GYN’s license on Feb. 8, according to an agency statement. The action comes after former state Attorney General Kamala Harris filed a complaint against Kooba in December 2016.

According to that complaint, Kooba began treating “Patient A” in January 2002, serving as obstetrician for three of her pregnancies and delivering two of her babies. The patient’s last in-person visit was in September 2012, the complaint stated.

“The inappropriate relationship between Dr. Kooba and his patient is an egregious violation of the law and especially concerning to the Board,” said Kimberly Kirchmeyer, the medical board’s executive director.

Kooba is accused of sexual misconduct, sexual exploitation, unprofessional conduct, gross negligence, repeated negligent acts and incompetence.

Kooba could not be reached for comment Wednesday. His attorney, Candice Clipner, said the medical board decision represented “a remarkable example of injustice.”

“The administrative process did not result in truth and justice,” she said in a statement.

She said Kooba was considering an appeal of the case. She described him as “an excellent physician, respected by physicians both in and outside of his department, as well as appreciated by his patients.”

In a statement released Wednesday, Kaiser Permanente said it “takes this matter extremely seriously and fully cooperated with the California Medical Board in its investigation.”

Kooba was placed on leave in January 2017 and has been prohibited from seeing Kaiser Permanente patients since then, Kaiser spokesman David Ebright said. He would not say whether Kooba was still part of the Kaiser Permanente medical group.

“Because of state confidentiality and due process laws, we cannot comment on any ongoing internal proceedings regarding Dr. Kooba,” Ebright said.

The affair between Kooba and the woman, who started working as a nurse for Kaiser in 2010, began in October 2013 and lasted until June 2014. Their first sexual encounter occurred on the second night of an out-of-town conference. Both were married to others at the time.

“Within the next two to three weeks they drove out to Bodega Bay and had sexual intercourse for the first time in a car. ... Patient A would go to (Kooba’s) office when she got off of work around 3:30 p.m., while he was still working, and they would have sex in his office,” according to Harris’ complaint.

The complaint said the two would meet for sex in the clinic when it was closed during Kooba’s night call shifts and in his office while he was on duty and was supposed to report for patient care.

In February 2014, the nurse learned she was pregnant and Kooba prescribed Misoprostol, a drug that can induce miscarriages, to abort the baby in an attempt to conceal the relationship from his then-wife, the medical board said.

The relationship deteriorated after that, and the nurse reported the relationship to her employers and to the board. State investigators later learned that Kooba had backdated the Misoprostol prescription to conceal the affair from Kaiser, the medical board said.