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Mark Ryan, Ex-Doctor Who Choked Nurse, Gets 30 Days In Jail; Says He Blacked Out

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (CBS4) - A Douglas County Judge has sentenced a former anesthesiologist to 30 days in jail for choking a nurse, with the judge saying the doctor's apology doesn't seem very sincere. Judge Theresa Slade on Monday sentenced Mark Randle Ryan to 30 days in county jail beginning this Thursday, along with three years deferred judgment and probation, anger management classes, mental health treatment and 100 hours of community service.

Dr. Mark Randle Ryan (credit: CBS)

"You absolutely put other patients at risk," said Slade during the Monday hearing. "When someone chokes someone else there's a punishment associated with that."

In 2018, Ryan was in the recovery room at Sky Ridge Medical Center and was turning off vital-sign machines for patients recovering from surgeries. He later said the machines constantly beeped creating "alarm fatigue" for nurses. Nurse Beth Duche tried to stop Ryan from silencing the machines and he grabbed her around the neck and began choking her.

Ryan pleaded guilty in March to one count of second degree assault by strangulation and one count of third degree assault. During the sentencing, Ryan said "It's hard to believe I blacked out but I really did. All I could tell was that my hands were around, feel your jaw, feel throat, soft tissues -- I did not know what was going on. I remember separating hands away from the throat."

Beth Duche
Beth Duche (credit: Beth Duche)

Duche said the October 2018 incident left her in shock believing Ryan was going to kill her. Another nurse who witnessed the incident said Ryan was squeezing Duche violently. In a statement at the sentencing, Duche told the judge "Mark Ryan strangled me in a recovery room full of patients and staff. ... I was assaulted by a colleague who took a Hippocratic Oath to do no harm. No amount of stress Mr. Ryan was experiencing in his life should make him snap to that extent."

Duche said she has experienced PTSD, panic attacks and insomnia since the incident. She asked for a maximum sentence of 90 days jail time. Following the hearing, Duche told CBS4 she "wants nurses to know they can press charges and justice will be served."

"The culture has to change," said Duche.

Ryan's attorney, Lisa Moses, told the judge jail was not necessary and that what occurred was a shock to him as well. Ryan apologized during the court hearing saying to Duche, "I am very, very sorry. That's not me."

In 2019, Ryan surrendered his medical license and admitted to "unprofessional conduct." He agreed to begin serving his jail time this Thursday.

Ryan had no previous disciplinary actions against his medical license and no criminal history, according to police. Duche has filed a civil lawsuit against Ryan over the choking incident.

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