Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Carmel on the Case: Doctor Suspended
A South Florida doctor is in trouble with authorities for the way he handed out prescriptions at a pain clinic. They are calling him dangerous. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
WSVN -- Eighty-four-year-old Dr. Leonard Haimes may not look like much of a threat, but the state considers him an immediate, serious danger to the public health, safety and welfare and has suspended his license to practice medicine on an emergency basis.
Dr. Haimes worked at the Wellness and Pain Centers of Broward in Fort Lauderdale.
According to the order suspending his license, he violated medical standards by prescribing addictive drugs to patients who had no medical need for them.
Carmel Cafiero: "Dr. Haimes, Carmel Cafiero from Channel 7, we'd like to talk with you about the suspension of your license. Would you talk with us for just a minute about the suspension of your license please?"
Dr. Haimes: "No!"
Carmel Cafiero: "No is all he had to say.
According to the state, Dr. Haimes gave five patients prescriptions for more than ten thousand highly addictive and dangerous oxycodone and other pain pills.
Carmel Cafiero: "Good morning, are you Mr. Shumrak? No. You're not?"
But he is Joel Shumrak, the owner of the Wellness and Pain Centers of Broward.
Carmel Cafiero: "I'd like to talk with you about Dr. Haimes and the suspension."
Joel Shumrak: "I can't talk about Dr. Haimes."
Carmel Cafiero: "Why not? This is your clinic."
Joel Shumrak: "Dr. Haimes doesn't work here anymore."
Carmel Cafiero: "Right, but he was working here when the state claims you over-prescribed patients."
But Shumrak just walked away with nothing more to say.
Outside his clinic, an armed guard who couldn't resist dancing in front of our camera.
Guard: "I like to be on TV."
Carmel Cafiero: "But there's more than overprescribing at issue here. 7News has learned that the clinic recently settled a threatened lawsuit in connection with two deaths."
Jeffrey Fenster: "In this case, we notified the Broward Pain Clinic and Dr. Haimes of our intent to bring an action on behalf of the family of Heather Belleme and Chance Wilson in their deaths as a result of Oxycodone abuse."
Malpractice Attorney Jeffrey Fenster said Heather Belleme died on a plane. Two weeks later, her boyfriend Chance Wilson also died.
Fenster claims both died of an overdose of Oxycodone. He said the clinic and Dr. Haimes settled with terms that are confidential.
Jeffrey Fenster: "The prescription was not justified based upon the medical history that was given by the patients, especially in the quantity and number of prescriptions given to those two young people."
The clinic has been the target of protests by STOPP Now, a group of parents who have children who have died from overdoses or who are dealing with addiction.
Maureen Kielian said the organization is encouraged by Dr. Haimes' suspension.
Maureen Kielian: "I think it's a great move by our new surgeon general."
There's been no action by the state against the Wellness and Pain Centers of Broward's license.
Dr. Haimes meanwhile has options. He can admit fault or fight the allegations.
The state said it has not had a response from him.