A Miami doctor whose botched liposuction of a North Miami man led to a $1 million malpractice judgment in Miami-Dade court has agreed to stop performing the surgical procedure under the terms of a disciplinary order handed down by the Florida Board of Medicine in April.
The doctor, Amaryllis Pascual, is prohibited from performing liposuction until she passes a state evaluation and appears before the state medical board’s probation committee, according to the terms of the order. Pascual, 49, also will pay a $10,000 fine.
The board’s order stems from a January 2013 liposuction surgery that Pascual performed on Ricardo Martinez, 54, at an office clinic in Aventura that has since closed. During liposuction, doctors use a metal rod called a cannula to remove fat through a surgical incision, plunging the instrument in and out of the patient’s body.
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Pascual tore Martinez’s abdominal wall and punctured his small intestine and colon during the liposuction, according to the state’s legal complaint, and he had to be hospitalized a week later with sepsis and undergo emergency surgeries to repair his damaged organs.
Martinez said on Friday that he has “mixed feelings” about Pascual’s discipline.
“I’m still having a lot of side effects from what happened to me,” he said. “She gets to have her license returned to her whenever she satisfies the board’s conditions.”
During the hearing in April, members of the state’s medical board asked Pascual why she performed liposuction on Martinez when his medical history — including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, asthma and HIV infection — indicated that he was not a good candidate for the surgery.
Pascual’s attorney, Allen Grossman, told the board that Martinez’s medical conditions had been well controlled for years and that the patient appeared to be fit and muscular at the time. Grossman and Pascual, who now practices at Imagenes Plastic Surgery on Southwest Eighth Street in Miami, did not respond to the Miami Herald’s requests for comment on Friday.
At the hearing, Martinez accused Pascual of ignoring his pleas for help as he became increasingly ill with vomiting and intense abdominal pain in the days following the liposuction. He ultimately went to the emergency room at Aventura Hospital and Medical Center, where he was hospitalized for 21 days — and then left to pay the bills for his medical care, Martinez said, after his health plan denied coverage because liposuction is an elective procedure.
“Every night I would literally cry, thinking about the same thing,” Martinez said after the medical board’s meeting in April. “One way or another, she’s going to have to pay because of the way she abandoned me.”
Martinez filed a lawsuit against Pascual for medical malpractice in January 2014, accusing her of negligence.
A year later, Pascual filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, claiming more than $1 million in liabilities and naming Martinez as one of dozens of creditors — even though his lawsuit had yet to be closed.
In February, however, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Thomas Rebull awarded Martinez a $1 million judgment against Pascual’s business, Body Oasis Beauty and Wellness Center Inc. Nicholas Johnson, an attorney who represented Martinez in the suit, said Pascual’s debt was discharged in bankruptcy.
One way or another, she’s going to have to pay because of the way she abandoned me.
Ricardo Martinez of North Miami
Martinez said he doesn’t expect to collect on the $1 million judgment awarded to him. Pascual does not carry medical malpractice insurance. And though the medical board noted in April that Pascual has no prior discipline during the 11 years she has been licensed to practice medicine in Florida, at least two other patients filed lawsuits against Pascual in 2013 and 2015.
One patient was awarded a $5,000 judgment in Broward County Court after she demanded a refund from Pascual because the patient was unhappy with the results of her tummy tuck surgery. The second patient, who sued in 2013, claims that Pascual was negligent after performing a liposuction and fat transfer to the buttocks, a procedure commonly referred to as a Brazilian butt lift, that resulted in an infection.
According to the second patient’s lawsuit, Pascual treated the infection for about six months, but she failed to diagnose the correct infection and it spread, causing a deformity to the woman’s right buttock. The case is pending trial, but Pascual listed the patient as a creditor in her bankruptcy filing.
Martinez has filed a second complaint against Pascual with the Florida Department of Health because she has yet to fulfill the $1 million judgment as required under state law.
The health department does not disclose patient complaints against doctors, however, unless a state medical board panel finds that there is probable cause to prosecute the physician for malpractice.