Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Medical board seeks suspension, fine over doctor's treatment of prostate cancer

TAMPA — A Sarasota physician dubbed "one of the most dangerous doctors" by a member of the Florida Board of Medicine faces a one-year suspension and $80,000 fine for improperly diagnosing prostate cancer.

In addition to the suspension and maximum fine allowed in such a case, Ronald Wheeler, a urologist with more than 25 years of experience, faces an evaluation and five years of supervised probation should he accept the board's settlement proposed Friday during a meeting in Tampa.

The board, made up of doctors, lawyers and a consumer advocate, considered measures to discipline Wheeler and other doctors, including ones from Riverview and St. Petersburg, they believe had violated the industry's standard of care.

The Florida Department of Health investigated Wheeler for two years following complaints from three patients for not abiding by the standards of care, two of which also include allegations of financial exploitation.

Wheeler has seven days to notify the board whether he'll accept the settlement. If he does not, there will be further board action.

Over eight years, Wheeler has treated more than 300 potential prostate cancer patients in what many other doctors consider an uncommon way. Industry standards indicate that the proper way to diagnose the disease is by taking a biopsy. Instead, Wheeler used an MRI image.

"Our technology has not yet reached that point where it is standard of care in the industry to definitively diagnose prostate cancer just based on X-ray and not getting a piece of tissue," said an expert, Florida Urology Partners urologist Malcolm Root, who is not involved in the disciplinary case.

After his diagnoses, Wheeler had advised the three men who later filed complaints to seek a $32,000 treatment in Mexico at a center where he serves as a consultant. The procedure is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and not covered by insurance.

Two of the three patients canceled the procedures in Mexico after getting second opinions.

"Everything I've done has been on the up-and-up, academically," Wheeler told the board.

But Zachariah P. Zachariah, a Fort Lauderdale doctor on the board, and others expressed disapproval.

"You're treating patients who don't have a disease," Zachariah told Wheeler, emphasizing that an MRI alone does not provide a conclusive diagnosis.

Betty Jo Carter, a Ruskin general practitioner not trained in palliative care, also faces board discipline.

In February 2012, she cared for a 68-year-old terminally ill friend with kidney and liver disease. Carter spent nights in his house, administering regular doses of painkillers and anti-anxiety medication. She said she stepped in because he checked out of hospice care and refused to return.

The board proposed a $5,000 fine, half of the maximum permitted, along with mandatory courses. Members voted for relatively minor disciplinary actions because they believed Carter was not benefiting financially and was acting out of compassion.

Before this incident, she had a clean record spanning more than 30 years in practice.

"Dr. Carter will tell you that at all times, her focus was on the appropriate and compassionate end-of-life care for this patient," said Ken Beytin, her attorney.

Lawyers for both Carter and Wheeler said they were not yet sure whether their clients would accept the agreements.

The board also proposed fining St. Petersburg anesthesiologist Jeffrey Marder $10,000 for leaving an operating room while the patient was in cardiac arrest. The patient was transferred to the hospital's emergency room, where it was determined she had suffered brain damage.

Julie Kliegman can be reached at jkliegman@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3401.

Medical board seeks suspension, fine over doctor's treatment of prostate cancer 06/06/14 [Last modified: Friday, June 6, 2014 10:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Editorial: Super Bowl yardsticks for bay area

    Editorials

    From the moment they arrive, Super Bowl fans returning to Tampa for the NFL title game in 2021 will see and experience an entirely new Tampa Bay region. Whether it's the expanded airport, the growing universities and thriving downtowns or the new entertainment destinations and incubators for business, visitors will feel …

    From the moment they arrive, Super Bowl fans returning to Tampa for the NFL title game in 2021 will see and experience an entirely new Tampa Bay region.
  2. Convicted murderer whose release Pam Bondi fears will stay behind bars

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Tampa police officer convicted in 1980 of murdering a security guard will not be released from prison after a parole hearing that Attorney General Pam Bondi said could have put her at risk.

    Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi arrives for an injunction hearing at the Hillsborough County Courthouse, Wednesday, May 17, 2017, in Tampa, regarding William Norman Wilkes, the man she alleges has been stalking her. On Wednesday, the Florida Commission on Offender Review is set to consider whether to let Charles Norman, a former Tampa police officer convicted of murder, will seek his possible release. Bondi says Norman has sent her threats. "He is a menace to society and needs to remain behind bars," Bondi said.   [Loren Elliott | Tampa Bay Times]
  3. Romano: On this education bill, you decide who is evil

    Politics

    The political ramifications are not lost on Kristine Benson.

    Six-year-old Chase Benson was born with down syndrome and autism. He attends a private school in Palm Harbor through a Gardiner Scholarship. [Photo courtesy of Kris Benson]
  4. St. Petersburg police team with federal agencies to crack down on gun and drug offenders (w/video)

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Police say Raymond Adams, 29, jumped a fence to break into a home in the 800 block of 51st Street Avenue S.

    Some of the guns confiscated during an eight month firearms, drug trafficking, and violent crime operation dubbed the St. Petersburg Violent Crime Reduction Initiative were on display Wednesday, 5/24/17 at the St. Petersburg Police Department.  Federal charges have been filed against 35 individuals and state charges have been filled against 9 individuals in St. Petersburg. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times

  5. Graco recalls car seats; webbing may not hold child in crash

    Public Safety

    Graco Children's Products is recalling more than 25,000 car seats because the harness webbing can break in a crash and may not keep children restrained.

    Graco has recalled eight different car seat models.