Your Doc’s In Physician Suspended Over Misconduct Case

BERLIN – A local physician, owner of six urgent care facilities on the Eastern Shore, faces a 30-day suspension and three years’ probation for engaging in sexual behavior with a patient.

Last month, a disciplinary panel of the Maryland Board of Physicians ordered that the medical license of Dr. Walter Gianelle – owner of six Your Doc’s In facilities on the Eastern Shore – be suspended for a minimum of 30 days beginning Nov. 15. The board also imposed a three-year probation with terms and conditions and a $15,000 civil fine, to be paid within two years.

The ruling comes nearly four years after the physician self-reported a two-year sexual relationship with a female employee he had treated in his capacity as an urgent care doctor.


Walter Gianelle

“Based on the findings of fact and discussion of Dr. Gianelle’s exceptions … Disciplinary Panel A concludes that Dr. Gianelle is guilty of immoral and unprofessional conduct in the practice of medication, in violation of Md. Code Ann., Health Occ. Sections 14-404(a)(3)(i) and (ii),” the order reads. “The panel also concludes that Dr. Gianelle violated the Board’s sexual misconduct regulations … by engaging in a sexual relationship with a current patient, in violation of Health Occ. Section 14-404(a)(43).”

The order, issued last month, outlines the series of events that took place between Gianelle and the patient over the course of a relationship that spanned from October 2015 to December 2017. The order states Gianelle continued to treat the patient while engaging in romantic and sexual behavior.

“Their sexual encounters took place in hotels, her truck, her house, and in some Facility offices,” the order reads. “The ALJ (administrative law judge) found that throughout the duration of that sexual relationship, Dr. Gianelle treated her as a patient in his office six times – on January 2 and 11, 2016, June 8 and 22, 2016, October 12, 2016, and January 1, 2017 … and gave medical advice on numerous other occasions.”

The order also highlighted numerous texts between Gianelle and the patient that discussed her treatment and their sexual encounters, which on multiple occasions had occurred on or around the same day.

“On November 19, 2015, after Individual A completed diagnostic imaging studies, they had a sexual encounter in Room 5 at the Salisbury office location of Dr. Gianelle’s practice,” the order reads.

Ultimately, it was determined Gianelle continued to give the patient medical advice throughout their relationship.

“He oversaw the medical complications that arose from her underlying serious health problems, played a role in her medical health and consulted with her primary care physician and kidney specialist,” the order reads. “He reviewed and commented on her lab work and x-rays and prescribed her medication even when she had not come to him for treatment. His intimate sexual relationship with her was completely intertwined with both her medical care and her employment in his practice.”

The case was first brought to the attention of the state board in January 2019, when Gianelle self-reported his consensual, sexual relationship with a female employee while treating her as a patient. In May 2021, following an investigation, a disciplinary panel of the board charged Gianelle with immoral and unprofessional conduct and violating sexual misconduct regulations. And by May 2022, an administrative law judge recommended that the charges of the panel be upheld and that Gianelle’s medical license be suspended for three years, to be stayed pending completion of a three-year probation, courses in ethics and professional boundaries and payment of a $15,000 civil fine.

Gianelle, however, filed written exceptions to the judge’s findings, and both parties appeared before a new disciplinary panel in July of this year.

For his part, Gianelle argued that he did not engage in sexual behavior with the patient during times he provided treatment.

“As he did before the ALJ, he argues that the unique nature of his practice as an urgent care provider means that he does not have continuing physician-patient relationships or patients in the ordinary sense, and that his provider relationship begins when a patient walks into the urgent care exam room and ends when the patient leaves,” the order reads. “The evidence in Individual A’s medical record, over 5,000 text messages between her and Dr. Gianelle, and his testimony before the ALJ, however, contradict Dr. Gianelle’s arguments.”

Gianelle also argued the administrative law judge used his marital infidelity as a supporting factor in their proposed sanction.

“Dr. Gianelle is incorrect,” the order reads. “Rather, the ALJ determined that Dr. Gianelle utilized his Facility to enable the sexual relationship. He engaged in sexual encounters with Individual A in the office during business hour, the encounters were known to Facility employees, and placed the reputation and professionalism of the Facility in an unbecoming light.”

After further review of the case, the panel ultimately denied Gianelle’s exceptions and accepted the judge’s recommendations, with some exceptions.

“The Panel has considered applicable and aggravating factors in its regulations,” the order reads. “Dr. Gianelle does not have a prior disciplinary history with the Board and cooperated with the disciplinary panel proceedings. With respect to his self-reporting and admission of his sexual relationship with Indivudual A to the Board in January 2019 … the Panel notes that he did so based partially on the public filing of Individual A’s EEOC complaint against him in October 2018.”

The order continues, “Aggravating factors in this case include not only the combination of factually discrete offenses adjudicated in a single action, but Dr. Gianelle’s deliberate and reckless commission of repeated sexual offenses over two years, and the potential for harm to Individual A.”

The panel ordered that Gianelle’s medical license be suspended for a minimum of 30 days and that he enroll in a professional rehabilitation program. The panel also issued a three-year probation and $15,000 fine and ordered Gianelle to complete courses in ethics and professional boundaries.

Gianelle’s urgent care practices are located in North Salisbury, South Salisbury Easton, Cambridge, Pocomoke and West Ocean City.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.