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Florida doctor used unapproved procedure on cancer patient

When a patient is told that the medical condition they have is serious, panic can set in. Often patients seek the help of medical specialists, doctors who are known in the profession to have expertise in a particular area of medicine. So when a doctor suggests a procedure, patients often are under the impression that the doctor can in fact perform the procedure.

But what happens if the procedure isn't approved for use in the U.S.? What if something happens to the patient? Can the doctor be held accountable for any permanent injury or death? For patients or their loved ones, a medical malpractice lawsuit is one way to hold the physician responsible.

In additional to a civil lawsuit, doctors can also face license suspension if the state's Board of Medicine or an administrative law judge determines that his actions were inappropriate. A Florida cardiologist will argue before a state administrative law judge that he should be allowed to resume his practice involving stem cell therapy. The physician is accused of medical malpractice for using a dangerous and illegal procedure to help a cancer patient.

The doctor had injected the patient with her own stem cells after she complained of numbness following chemotherapy. The woman, who was treated at the doctor's practice in Florida, was reported physically unstable after the procedure and suffered a fall later that same day at her home; she died soon after. Though details of a lawsuit were not given in the article, it does appear her family received a settlement for her death.

The doctor has encouraged patients suffering from extreme conditions, like heart or lung failure, to receive the costly treatments out of the country. He argues that the state's accusations that he performed experimental therapy are unfounded, even though the procedure is not approved in the U.S.

The doctor wants to reach a settlement with the state's Department of Health. The settlement could mandate community service, mandatory supervision and possibly stronger disciplinary measures.

Source: Naples News online, "Bonita doctor seeks state hearing on stem cell therapy, bone marrow practice," Liz Freeman, 20 May 2011

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