A San Diego Neurosurgeon risked his safety and others driving drunk to work, according to an accusation filed with the Medical Board of California. Now, the Board is making the first move toward revoking the doctor's license to practice medicine.
Along a stretch of Via De La Villa in Rancho Santa Fe, Neurosurgeon Rex Lloyd Patrick Rhoten crashed his Tesla into some trees on February 20, 2016,” according to documents filed with the state medical board.
"As I started to talk to him and investigate the collision I saw signs of intoxication,” CHP arresting Officer Chris Parent said.
Officer Parent said Rhoten was subjected to four field sobriety tests.
"Red watery eyes slurred speech his inability to handle fine motor skills,” Parent said. “The field sobriety test were conducted would show that here was intoxication present.”
The investigation would show Rhoten was the on-call doctor at Kaiser Permanente that day and at the time was on his way to work.
California's Attorney General filed a "Matter of Accusation" against the physician with the state medical board. It indicates Rhoten’ s Blood Alcohol Level was .26, which is more than three times the legal limit.
"We know as highway patrolmen you are affected even at a level of .08, the legal limit, all the way down to .05,” Parent said.
Rhoten was convicted of driving under the influence three months later.
In a statement, Kaiser Permanente Spokesperson, Jennifer Dailard told NBC 7 Investigates, "Dr. Rhoten resigned immediately following the incident. He is no longer employed at the hospital.”
The California Attorney General's "Matter of Accusation" alleges the conviction is substantial to the qualifications and duties of a surgeon and driving drunk is dangerous to the public and it constitutes unprofessional conduct.
"It's based on the merits of the case,” Public Information Analyst for the Medical Board Christine Valine said. “We don't comment on pending accusations.”
NBC 7 Investigates contacted Rhoten but has not heard back from the doctor. Rhoten is still a licensed physician. The Medical Board sends his correspondence to LaJolla Neurosurgical Associates. A receptionist there told NBC 7 Investigates the doctor was attempting to join the group. The owner of the business called NBC 7 Investigates and said after a background check, Rhoten was denied an opportunity to join their group.
The outcome of the Attorney Generals case against Rhoten will determine whether he loses his surgeon's license.
The Attorney General filing was submitted September 14. Doctor Rhoten has 15 days to file a notice of defense. The board has another 15 days to set a hearing before an administrative judge.
NBC 7 Investigates is reporting on medical professionals accused by the public and the California Medical Board of wrongdoing in order to bring information to the public and increase transparency of medical practices in the San Diego region. Currently, this information is reported by the Medical Board on its website.