Thursday, April 19, 2018
Health

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 [email protected] or (813) 226-3401.

Comments
Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood is expanding its emergency department. The hospital, 7171 North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, is spending $17.5 million to add 15 new private treatment rooms, new pediatric rooms and waiting areas, and new technology, acco...
Published: 04/18/18
Barbara Bush’s end-of-life decision stirs debate over ‘comfort care’

Barbara Bush’s end-of-life decision stirs debate over ‘comfort care’

As she nears death at age 92, former first lady Barbara Bush’s announcement that she is seeking "comfort care" is shining a light — and stirring debate — on what it means to stop trying to fight terminal illness.Bush, the wife of former President Geo...
Published: 04/17/18
Preparing for the worst, staffers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s learn through simulation

Preparing for the worst, staffers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s learn through simulation

When the patient got violent, Dr. Michelle Hidalgo didn’t have time to think. She had to react. The woman was moving strangely and seemed erratic. Hidalgo had to make a tough call — it was time to physically restrain her for everyone’s safety.Then th...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Lung cancer patients live longer with immune therapy

The odds of survival can greatly improve for people with the most common type of lung cancer if, along with the usual chemotherapy, they are also given a drug that activates the immune system, a major new study has shown.The findings should change me...
Published: 04/16/18
Thousands of pounds of prepackaged salad mixes may have been tainted with E. coli, officials say

Thousands of pounds of prepackaged salad mixes may have been tainted with E. coli, officials say

A Pennsylvania food manufacturer is recalling 8, 757 pounds of ready-to-eat salad products following an E. coli outbreak that has spread to several states and sickened dozens of people.Fresh food Manufacturing Co., based in Freedom, Pennsylvania, is ...
Published: 04/15/18
St. Anthony’s Cancer Center installs bell dedicated to survivors

St. Anthony’s Cancer Center installs bell dedicated to survivors

ST. PETERSBURGSister Mary McNally, vice president of mission at St. Anthony’s Hospital, stood in front of a room of cancer survivors to unveil a silver bell surrounded by butterfly stickers mounted to the wall of the Cancer Center lobby. "So often pe...
Published: 04/13/18
Hand dryers could leave your hands dirtier than you think

Hand dryers could leave your hands dirtier than you think

Washing your hands after you use the bathroom is a good idea. But using a public dryer could undo all that hard work, according to a new study.A study, published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, examined 36 men’s and women’s bat...
Published: 04/13/18
Meek and Mighty Triathlon draws the young (siblings who are 7, 9 and 11) and not so young

Meek and Mighty Triathlon draws the young (siblings who are 7, 9 and 11) and not so young

The annual St. Anthony’s Triathlon has for years attracted elite athletes from around the world, making the St. Petersburg race one of the premier triathlon events in the country. There’s a big incentive to run fast, swim hard and be the best on a bi...
Published: 04/13/18
Some older patients suffer memory loss after surgery. Why does that happen?

Some older patients suffer memory loss after surgery. Why does that happen?

Two years ago, Dr. Daniel Cole’s 85-year-old father had heart bypass surgery. He hasn’t been quite the same since."He forgets things and will ask you the same thing several times," said Cole, a professor of clinical anesthesiology at UCLA and a past ...
Published: 04/13/18
Morning person or night owl? Study indicates which may have higher risks of dying sooner.

Morning person or night owl? Study indicates which may have higher risks of dying sooner.

Like staying up late? A new study suggests night owls burning the midnight oil could be more at risk for developing certain health complications, including fatal ones.The study, conducted by Northwestern Medicine and the University of Surrey in the U...
Published: 04/12/18