The Anne Who Would Be Queen: 1997 Case Summary

Below is full text and a scan of the case summary outlining the 31 March 1997 incident which led anesthesiologist Anne Lawrence to resign from Swedish Health Services in Seattle.

The State of Washington Department of Health initiated an investigation through their Health Professions Quality Assurance Commission as case number 97-05-0042MD.

Case Number: 97-05-0042MD

Date: 09/17/97 12:06 PM
Presented by: James H. Smith
Respondent: Lawrence, Anne A., M.D.
Complainant: Swedish Health Services


The Respondent: Board Certified in Anesthesiology, DOB 11/17/50, licensed since 77

The Complainant: Swedish Health Services

The Complaint: NPDB Adverse Action Report

Case Review: Swedish Health Services reports that after an incident involving the respondent’s professional conduct occurred, she resigned from the medical staff. Reports and statements were obtained from the hospital which indicate that the respondent, who was the attending anesthesiologist, performed a genital exam on an anesthetized patient. The patient from Ethiopia was placed in a low-lithotomy position. The circulating nurse noted that the patient was already shaved. The respondent came around the end of the table and asked if the patient had her genitalia altered. The GYN responded “No.” The respondent asked “Are you sure that she has not been circumcised?” The GYN responded “She has not.” R states “She looks like she had something done, she doesn’t look right.” The GYN replied “It probably looks different because she shaved herself, which may be a cultural thing.” The respondent replied “I still think she has something done” to which the GYN replied “No, its just aging.” The GYN then left the OR to scrub. The respondent then put on an exam glove and checked the patient’s genitals. The respondent states “Oh, there is her clit, I guess she is OK.” and then returned to the head of the bed.

The respondent, both in a letter to the hospital and to the Commission, admits to a serious lapse in judgment. She indicates that she had no bad intentions; no desire to harm, to degrade, or exploit. The respondent decided to resign rather than face the possibility that the incident could become public and have adverse affects on her young children, the reputation of the hospital, the privacy of the patient, and on her professionally.

Some background is relevant. The respondent has practiced anesthesiology in Seattle for nearly 20 years without problem.

[... approxinately 4 lines of text possibly edited ...]

Prior Cases: None

Notes on documentation

These scans are the best available copy from Washington State's Health Professions Quality Assurance Commission. Areas in white appear to be emendations made in the dossier at the request of Anne Lawrence and/or her lawyers. These are indicated by [... bracketed ellipses...] in the transcripts. Areas in gray have been edited by me to protect certain aspects of Dr. Lawrence’s privacy, and are also indicated in the transcripts below. These documents have been transcribed verbatim, including any errors in the originals. Please report any inadvertent transcription errors by contacting me.