Towson gynecologist Dr. John Yacoub surrendered his medical license to state regulators Wednesday as he faced allegations of improperly distributing prescription drugs.
He was not accused of wrongdoing related to images of patients' genitals found on his phone.
The action ends a Maryland Board of Physicians investigation into Yacoub, though he still could face criminal charges.
"He is taking time now to work through personal matters," said his lawyer, Melanie Glickson, who spoke on his behalf.
The board suspended Yacoub's license Oct. 8 after a state and federal investigation prompted allegations that he used and distributed illicit drugs, including to a patient with whom he had a sexual relationship, and took photos of female genitalia in clinical settings.
The photos had raised concern because of the recent case of Dr. Nikita Levy, a Johns Hopkins gynecologist who police say killed himself amid an investigation into whether he was secretly taping and photographing patients. Yacoub's lawyers said the images on his phone were taken with patients' consent to document the outcomes of surgeries.
"In the wake of the events surrounding the Nikita Levy case, a misperception was created and Dr. Yacoub was lumped in with him, when really, the two situations couldn't have been more different," Glickson said.
Last month, the board ordered that Yacoub be charged with violating Maryland medical malpractice law for drug abuse and distributing drugs for purposes that are illegal or medically illegitimate, according to documents released Thursday.
The inquiry began after a member of Yacoub's staff reported that he kept large bottles of drugs, considered controlled dangerous substances under federal law, in his office, according to the board's order to suspend his license. Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided his home in September and found prescription bottles with multiple patients' names, text messages about the drugs between him and a patient with whom he had a sexual relationship, and the images on his phone, most depicting a gloved hand near genitalia.
Yacoub sought to surrender his license and avoid prosecution by the board. Doctors facing discipline by the board have the right to ask for an evidentiary hearing, much like a court proceeding, if they wish to challenge charges.
Yacoub's surrender is considered a disciplinary action and, in his case, means that he cannot seek to have his license reinstated for a year, said Christine Farrelly, acting director of the Board of Physicians, in an email. If he chooses to apply for reinstatement after that, the board could place him on probation or impose other conditions because he surrendered his license "as if it were revoked," according to his letter to the board.
Reinstatement is not automatic and requires doctors to appear before a panel of the board, Farrelly said.
A DEA spokesman said Thursday the agency is continuing to investigate Yacoub. "We're still working aggressively on it," Edward Marcinko said.
Yacoub had practiced in the Baltimore area for nearly three decades, with 10,000 patients and the delivery of 5,000 babies, his lawyers said. He directed minimally invasive surgery centers at both Greater Baltimore Medical Center and St. Agnes Hospital, and most recently worked in a private practice located on GBMC's Towson campus but not affiliated with the hospital.
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