State board reinstates doctor’s license after suspension for sexual conduct with patient

Dr. Peter Dunphy will be permitted to practice medicine in a pre-approved setting and while accompanied by a female chaperone when treating female patients.

Illustration by Metro Newspaper Service

The Minnesota Board of Medical Practice reinstated a conditional medical license for a longtime lakes area doctor after it was suspended in May 2020 over unethical conduct involving sexual contact with a patient.

Dr. Peter Dunphy will be permitted to practice medicine in a pre-approved setting and while accompanied by a female chaperone when treating female patients. Dunphy may petition for reinstatement of an unconditional license no sooner than two years after this action, taken Jan. 9. The doctor most recently practiced at Essentia Health’s Hackensack clinic before his employment was terminated the same month as his license suspension, according to an August 2020 statement from Essentia.

Dunphy was reprimanded in May and ordered to pay a $7,639.50 civil penalty following a board inquiry into the conduct. The disciplinary action described the nature of misconduct as “engaging in unethical or improper conduct; engaging in conduct that failed to conform to the minimal standards of acceptable medical practice; and engaging in sexual conduct with a patient.”

There was no further specific information concerning the nature of the conduct included in the order.

In an emailed statement Wednesday, Feb. 3, Dunphy said he does not plan to return to active medical practice. He said he completed all the steps expected of him, including coursework on professional boundaries and medical ethics, and submitted a paper outlining what he learned and his plan moving forward to the medical practice board.


“They subsequently met with me and upon consideration reinstated my medical license,” Dunphy wrote. “ … I had a very honest and open discussion with them, and I appreciated their action and reinstatement. I currently have no plans to return to active practice.”

Until his reinstatement, Dunphy was not permitted to practice medicine or surgery in the state of Minnesota. He was not allowed to petition for reinstatement of an unconditional license until at least six months after the May order.

Dunphy was required to appear before the complaint review committee to discuss the petition and practice plans. At that point, the committee could have made several recommendations to the board, including the continuation, modification or removal of the suspension, or it could have imposed conditions and restrictions as deemed necessary.

Dunphy started his career in medicine in 1981 at Brainerd Medical Center. He earned his medical degree from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and did his residency at St. Paul Ramsey Medical Center.

UPDATE: This story was updated to correctly reflect the statement provided by Essentia Health concerning Dunphy's employment status.

The Dispatch regrets the error.

Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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