Rarely if ever, do I feel sympathy for any doctor or hospital that attempts to escape responsibility for their mistakes–especially when those errors injure or kill someone. But the case of Dr. Cyril Karabus, an Australian pediatric oncologist is different. According to the New York Times, Dr. Karabus, 78, has been held prisoner by the United Arab Emirates for the alleged manslaughter or a 3-year-old girl who died while under his care.
In 2003, Dr. Karabus was convicted in abenstia and without his knowledge for the murder of a severely ill child diagnosed with Leukemia. After her parents refused his recommendation for a bone marrow transplant, she developed a brain hemorrhage and died. A nurse later informed the family that Dr. Karabus forged her medical records and failed to administer the child the appropriate amount of platelets.
Unlike the United States, medical malpractice in the Emirates is often considered a criminal act. A medical review board in Dubai reviewed the case and concluded that based upon the evidence; he did not commit medical malpractice. But the prosecutors have appealed. This case has received international attention and last week because the World Medical Association is now warning all doctors not to travel to the U.A.E.
In Florida it is a crime to fraudulently falsify a medical record on a nursing home patient. §400.1415 is the law that governs nursing home and related health care facilities. Altering a medical record for a nursing home patient is a second degree misdemeanor and is grounds for the suspension or termination of a license.
Florida’s doctors are subject to discipline when making a deceptive, untrue or fraudulent medical record or representation when treating a patient. Florida Statute §456.072 requires that doctors be disciplined and penalized for committing fraud.
Florida’s Department of Health maintains the historic discipline reports for doctors, nurses, dentist and even massage therapist licensed in Florida. Even though the DOH’s stated Mission is to “protect and promote the health of all people in Florida,” it has failed to update the site for seven years. The last posted discipline report is dated May 8, 2006, which includes a well known celebrity Miami plastic surgeon who was found to have been purchasing and injecting patients with black market Botox.
For example, I have investigated several emergency room and urgent care malpractice cases in Florida I believe warrant a criminal investigation. The untimely death of Michael Jackson and subsequent criminal prosecution and conviction of Dr. Conrad Murray suggest that our nation is increasingly likely to consider criminal charges for doctors who abuse the privilege of practicing medicine.
Until then, we recommend that every patient in Florida research their doctor periodically by verifying his or her licensure on the Department of Health’s website. We provide free consultations to anyone who believes they have been harmed by a doctor’s mistake.
Injured patients should be advised; Florida has a very short statute of limitations to bring medical malpractice cases such as performing a surgery on the wrong site or patient against doctors or hospitals. Our experienced team is here to help you quickly analyze your claim and understand your legal options.