The Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing put Dr. Kris Attwood Hayes’ license on hold in December, after the state’s physicians licensing board determined that he engaged in unprofessional workplace conduct.
Hayes could not be reached for comment, and his former counsel, J. Michael Hansen, declined to speak about the case.
But Hayes testified last fall that he never acted inappropriately. In addition, he alleged that his former co-workers who testified against him acted out of jealousy and spite.
Hayes served as Allen Memorial’s general surgeon from December 2004 through January 2010, and he continued to work there on an as-needed basis until May 2010. He went on to work at San Juan Hospital in Monticello, where he was employed when the licensing division suspended his license on Dec. 16, 2013. Allen Memorial was closed when the new Moab Regional Hospital opened 2011.
Robb Austin, CEO of Moab Regional Hospital, told The Times-Independent on Feb. 10 that he cannot discuss personnel-related matters. Austin was not connected with the hospital during the time of Hayes’ employment.
State prosecutors reported the facility terminated Hayes’ employment contract in response to complaints that he sexually harassed his female co-workers, according to a legal petition from Assistant Utah Attorney General Karl Perry.
A licensed physician, a head nurse and others who worked with Hayes on a daily basis expanded on those complaints during a two-day Utah Physicians Licensing Board hearing last fall. Based on their testimony, the 11-member board concluded that Hayes engaged in a pattern of verbal, physical, mental and sexual abuse throughout his time at the facility.
“Although it does not appear that he has yet harmed a patient, he has a history of creating a hostile environment where others responsible for patient care work in fear of abuse and harassment,” the board said in a Dec. 16 report. “Such a situation is not good for the profession or the public.”
According to the board’s official “findings of fact,” witnesses said Hayes repeatedly attempted to kiss and embrace numerous female nurses and medical technicians on the staff. On two specific occasions, he touched female employees in an inappropriate sexual manner, and he often made unwanted physical contact with a female medical assistant at the hospital’s clinic, the board found.
Other board findings condemned Hayes for juvenile behavior inside Allen Memorial’s operating room.
Witnesses testified that during surgeries, Hayes frequently and deliberately squirted liquids from syringes onto operating room nurses and staff members, and in at least one instance squirted fluid from a catheter line onto a scrub technician who stood nearby, according to the report. During another surgery, he intentionally wiped some of a patient’s tissue onto a scrub technician, the report said.
During surgery on male patients, Hayes often left their genitals exposed and then made unflattering remarks about their physical characteristics, witnesses testified. Hayes also bragged about his own sexual prowess and frequently asked female co-workers to bear his children, according to the board’s findings.
The board also found that Hayes’ history of domestic violence “further impugns his character.”
Hayes was convicted in Colorado in May 2012 of third-degree felony assault. The state licensing board found that the details of that incident support the allegations and testimony that Hayes “has a violent temper, is unable to wholly control his impulses and lacks respect for both women and authority,” according to the report.
In his testimony to the board, Hayes denied that he ever engaged in inappropriate conduct at the hospital.
He admitted that he once kissed a female co-worker without her consent in front of her friends and family members. He also acknowledged that he previously tolerated and took part in “some degree of levity and practical joking” inside the operating room, according to the report.
But Hayes asserted that the witnesses who testified against him conspired to do so because he “scorned” one of the female witnesses in favor of another woman. They were also upset that he took meaningful business away from Allen Memorial Hospital after it terminated his employment, he testified.
The licensing board did not find Hayes’ testimony to be convincing. In contrast, it found that the witnesses who testified against him offered credible accounts of Hayes’ operating room behavior, according to the report.
Although most of his female co-workers did not file timely complaints about his behavior, the board found their statements credible, noting that it is “reasonable to assume that they kept silent because they feared for their livelihoods.”
In response to the board’s findings, the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing ordered Hayes to successfully complete psychological, psychosexual, neuropsychological and substance abuse evaluations.
Under the division’s order, he must submit to more than four-dozen conditions before his license can be restored on a probationary basis.
After two years, he may ask the division to lift that probationary status. However, if he fails to comply with the division’s order, his license could be revoked, and other unidentified sanctions could be imposed.