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Board of Medicine punishes South Florida physicians behaving badly

FORT LAUDERDALE – When a woman has a pelvic exam, she expects her doctor to let her know if there’s a problem.

But that didn’t happen for Charlene Hutchens in 2002 or in 2003. It wasn’t until 2004 that she learned she had advanced cervical cancer.

The gynecologist who failed to tell her about her abnormal test results, David Lubetkin of Boca Raton, robbed her of peace of mind and the ability to have children, she told the Florida Board of Medicine on Saturday.

“I don’t want this to happen to any other person,” said Hutchens, now 27. “It’s destroyed my life.”

Lubetkin, who conceded there were mistakes and apologized to Hutchens at the hearing, was given the maximum fine, $20,000.

The Board of Medicine heard two other South Florida physicians’ cases Saturday, and these involved accusations of inappropriate sexual activity.

--Jose Valladares of Miami, who had been suspended from practice after being accused of soliciting sex from a minor, was reinstated on the recommendation of a program that works with impaired physicians. That program, PRN, will continue to monitor him.

--Shaheed Kalloo of West Palm Beach, whose practice was limited to men after being accused of touching a female patient in a sexual manner, agreed to accept a reprimand and pay a $10,000 fine in a settlement that will allow him to return to a full practice if PRN approves.

In the Lubetkin case, the board also required that he perform 100 hours of community service and have his practice reviewed by experts in “risk management” to make sure no more patients’ lab results will fall through cracks. Lubetkin accepted the revised agreement, while insisting he has already fixed the problems.

He said that after the Hutchens case, he pulled all his patients’ lab reports to make sure no others had fallen through the cracks. He said Hutchens’ abnormal PAPs were missed in part because the office was using an electronic records system that labeled results as “normal” by default.

His attorney, RoseMarie Antonacci-Pollock, told the board, “This was not the result of a physician practicing without knowledge, ability or skill. He misplaced his reliance on a flawed system. He has changed systems in his practice and created triple redundancy so this won’t happen again.

“It’s an unfortunate mistake that he has to live with every day,” she said.

But the patient wasn’t buying that. She said, “It was more than simply a flawed system. I believe this is a situation of pure, gross negligence.”

Hutchens noted that her condition could have easily been treated in 2002, or even 2003 if Lubetkin had checked the records. “It’s the failure of the doctor to not have established (proper) office procedures,” she said.

Lugging a cardboard box full of medical records, Hutchens said she drove 800 miles to make Lubetkins’ hearing. “I’ve been waiting six years to be heard,” she said.

She initially wanted to sue Lubetkin, she told the board, but her attorney said it wasn’t worth it because he had no medical malpractice insurance and could avoid a large judgment by declaring bankruptcy. The parties settled out of court.

Hutchens indicated it was minimal but Lubetkin’s attorney, RoseMarie Antonacci-Pollock, told Health News Florida after the hearing that it was “well into six figures.”

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