Months of bizarre, “erratic,” even “manic” behavior earned a North Texas pediatrician a temporary suspension from the Texas Medical Board.
Kurt Pflieger, 62, had been licensed to practice pediatrics in Texas since March 1994, but that came to a screeching halt when the pile of complaints, which detail startling behavior in offices at Rockwall Pediatrics locations in Rockwall and Forney was reviewed by the board’s disciplinary panel on April 6.
According to Pflieger’s order of temporary suspension, staff members at both locations allege that the doctor was generally distracted and preoccupied, “failing to complete his patient encounters, issuing prescriptions in error and crossing physician patient boundaries by obsessively sharing personal photos, stories and information with patients, employees and drug representatives.”
As an example, the order says that on Feb. 13, Pflieger lost focus on a cardiac patient during a stress test, distracted by showing his own vacation photos to the patient’s mother. His medical assistant had to stop the stress test because the patient complained of increased pain as the test became more physically demanding.
Just two days prior to that, the board alleges, Pflieger was rough-housing with the 2-year-old brother of a patient and tried to throw him onto his shoulder, but overshot, causing the boy to hit the back of his head on the exam room floor.
On Feb. 12, staff members allege, Pflieger arrived at work in what appeared to be a “manic” state and overheard the doctor yell, “Satan!” while talking to two patients. That outburst could be heard throughout the clinic, the report says.
Later that month, he allegedly admitted to being “in a full-blown manic episode, and I’m not sleeping.” When asked why he got back late from lunch, which caused patients to leave the practice without being seen, he made a brash comment about his sexual relationship with his then-fiancée.
Over the next few weeks, he allegedly slapped another co-worker on the rear, kissed another staff member on the face, then called a staff meeting to announce he was single.
The final straw came on April 5, when staff members told the board he came to work wearing pajamas, sobbing and looking disheveled.
“I’m glad that he’s getting a mandatory break, for sure,” Leslie Cook, the mother of a patient, told KTVT. “Being the mother of a baby that I love so much... I would want him to see a doctor that’s well rested, happy and clear-headed.”
In all, 15 instances reported by staff at both Rockwall Pediatrics locations were detailed by the board, which said continuing to allow Pflieger to practice at this time “would constitute a continuing threat to the public welfare.”
Pflieger’s medical board profile lists no previous history of malpractice, discipline by other state boards or criminal offenses.
The Dallas Morning News reported, though, that he was named in a lawsuit by a Waxahachie couple in the mid-1990s, after their 14-year-old son, Michael Peel, died after his heart condition was misdiagnosed. The insurance carrier for University of Texas system was required to pay $500,000 on Pflieger’s behalf.