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Defiant doctor loses license

Citing a "flagrant disregard" for disciplinary orders, the Florida Board of Medicine on Saturday revoked the license of a Hernando County doctor accused of failing to diagnose stomach cancer in an 84-year-old patient. Dr. Richard Henry, who closed his private practice in Brooksville in September and announced his retirement, did not show up for the medical board meeting in Orlando. Instead, he sent a defiant letter calling board proceedings a "Kangaroo Court."

The contest of wills arose after Henry was accused of failing to diagnose the cancer. Henry protested that the patient wouldn't undergo the tests he recommended and left the hospital against his advice.

But there was no mention of that in the medical records, so the board placed Henry on probation in June 1990. He was ordered to find another doctor to keep an eye on him and to bring that monitor to the probation committee meeting in September.

Rather than comply, Henry notified the Department of Professional Regulation (DPR) that he intended to retire. He closed his office in late September _ after the probation committee met without him.

That was a violation of the board order. A complaint was filed.

He responded with a Dec. 18 letter to DPR saying that because he was retired, the agency couldn't do anything to him. He called the agency inept and said, "I'm happy to be out of your clutches. Go intimidate someone else."

Another violation was uncovered in May, when a DPR investigator phoned Henry and found out he was volunteering his services at the Hernando County Health Department. He was not supposed to be practicing medicine without a board-approved monitor.

Some board members Saturday suggested that the case be put on hold until DPR could check out whether Henry is really still practicing. His "vituperative outburst" is an indication he doesn't understand the importance of the board and needs to be educated, said Dr. F. Lee Dockery.

Other members thought that sounded like a waste of time and taxpayers' money.

"The cheapest thing to do is revoke him," said Dr. George Slade.

Dr. Edward Dauer agreed: "He's shown a flagrant disregard for the board's order."

With that, a majority voted to end Henry's 36-year career with a revocation.

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