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Md. delegate disciplined for performing surgery while participating in remote hearing

Dr. Terri Hill, who is also a Maryland state delegate, was found “guilty of unprofessional conduct in the practice of medicine” for performing surgery while participating in a remote legislative hearing. (AP Photo/ Brian Witte)

A two-term state delegate must pay a $15,000 fine for remotely participating in legislative hearings while operating on patients.

The agreement is the resolution of a Maryland Board of Physicians investigation of complaints against Del. Terri Hill earlier this year. Hill, a two-term Democrat who represents Howard and Baltimore counties, is a licensed physician and board certified plastic surgeon.

In its 10-page order, Hill was found “guilty of unprofessional conduct in the practice of medicine in violation” of state law.

Hill did not respond to a request for comment.

Hill’s actions came to the attention of the board in March. News reports noted that she participated in committee meetings masked and in full surgical garb.

During a Feb. 19 meeting of the House Environment and Transportation Committee, Hill testified on a bill she sponsored. In the video she appears in a surgical mask and hair covering.

“Before we start the timer, are you at work?” Del. Kumar Barve, D-Montgomery and chairman of the committee, asked Hill. “What’s going on here?”

“I’m at work, yes,” said Hill.

“All right, cool, go for it,” Barve said before Hill began her formal testimony.

While testifying, she frequently looks down and off camera while speaking.

The board said Hill “performed major abdominal surgery” on an unidentified patient. The delegate did this as she testified for roughly three minutes.

The surgery took place in an unidentified area hospital. Hill has privileges at three area hospitals. She also operates at a surgical center in Glen Burnie, according to the board.

Hill participated remotely in a nearly one-hour House Health and Government Operations voting session in March. At the same time, she performed “major abdominal and back surgery” on an unidentified patient at a surgical center in Glen Burnie.

Hill again could be seen in surgical attire. At times other operating room staff could be seen “moving equipment and blood stained towels,” according to the order.

Hill initially told the board that both patients just before surgery gave her permission to participate in the meetings. But in both cases, the board, said pre-surgery consent forms do not document Hill’s claims.

The first patient later told the board she did not remember such a conversation. She said she found it “a little discomforting that attention was taken away from her during the surgery.”

The second patient told the board that she remembered a conversation a few minutes before her operation and gave permission for Hill to participate.

Hill later told the board that at the time she “did not appreciate the ‘sanctity’ of the operating room to the public and now understands …’the idea of …don’t invite the public into .. .the operating room,” according to the consent agreement.

In signing the consent agreement, Hill maintains her license and accepts the findings and reprimand of the board. She also agrees to pay a $15,000 fine. The delegate has one year to pay the fine.