UM doctor out over sexual misconduct claims

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A University of Michigan-affiliated doctor has lost his medical license and job amid sexual misconduct claims — including that he was intimate with a patient while at work, authorities confirmed Thursday.

Mark Franklin Hoeltzel, who worked as a pediatric rheumatologist with Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor, in late 2015 started texting and emailing a young woman being treated by another physician at the same UM clinic, according to an administrative complaint the state attorney general filed last month.

He then had the patient’s treatment transferred to him through November 2017 and during that time prescribed medications for her, including oxycodone and morphine sulfate, state officials allege.

The pair communicated outside of office hours, as well; messages exchanged “were personal in nature and eventually became sexual,” state investigators wrote. “In 2016, they began engaging in a physical, sexual relationship, some of which took place in the doctor’s clinic during (the woman’s) appointments.”

Additionally, state authorities contend Hoeltzel shared alcohol with the patient although she was underage and taking medications.

Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office also asserts that from 2004-06 the doctor also sent “flirtatious and suggestive” messages with a girl he first met through a UM arthritis camp when she was 11. After the mother reported it, university officials required him to undergo a “boundaries course,” according to the complaint.

Citing those instances, the attorney general argued Hoeltzel’s license should be suspended for failing to exercise due care, showing incompetence, lacking moral character and unprofessional conduct.

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ professional licensing bureau agreed and on Dec. 21, ordered the license suspended. State online licensing records show a license was issued June 6, 2013.

Hoeltzel could not be reached for comment Thursday night. Public records give his age as 46.

He had 30 days to submit a written response to the complaint but as of Thursday not had done so, said Pardeep Toor, a LARA representative.

Per the state public health code, failure to respond is “treated as an admission of the allegations contained in the complaint and shall result in the transmittal of the complaint directly to the Board’s Disciplinary Subcommittee (DSC) for imposition of an appropriate sanction,” according to the attorney general complaint.

The DSC can opt to dismiss the complaint or find Hoeltzel violated the public health code then pursue disciplinary action, Toor said. The group’s next scheduled meeting on March 14 is the earliest possible date his case may appear on its agenda.

Meanwhile, Hoeltzel was removed from patient care duties when his superiors learned about the state probe, then eventually terminated, said Marschall Runge, Michigan Medicine CEO and UM’s executive vice president of medical affairs.

“We also immediately reported him to law enforcement and have been fully cooperating with the investigation that is underway,” Runge said in a statement. “In the meantime, we also have hired an experienced outside reviewer to investigate this matter. These are very disturbing and serious allegations, and we have reached out to our patients to inform them of the situation, offer resources and provide them with a way to report any concerns.”