A South Florida doctor fighting the state’s effort to revoke his license on grounds of repeated medical malpractice is the surgeon whose patient died this week after he performed an undisclosed cosmetic procedure at a clinic in Doral, Miami-Dade police said Friday.
Osakatukei “Osak” Omulepu, 44, was performing surgery on a 30-year-old woman from Illinois when police records say she suddenly stopped breathing on Thursday — the same day that Florida’s First District Court of Appeal denied a request from the Department of Health to stop Omulepu from performing liposuction.
When police and paramedics arrived at the Doral office surgery clinic — called Seduction by Jardon Medical Center — they found Omulepu administering CPR to Lattia Baumeister, who had traveled to South Florida from her home about 150 miles outside of Chicago.
Since May 2016, at least five patients have died in from complications of liposuction and fat transfer procedures performed at office surgery clinics in Miami-Dade County.
Baumeister was taken to Kendall Regional Medical Center, where she died in the emergency room, according to the police report.
Omulepu, whose advertised specialty is liposuction and fat transfers to the buttocks — a procedure known as a “Brazilian butt lift” — could not be reached for comment Friday. His attorney, Monica Felder Rodriguez, issued a written statement that Omulepu is “absolutely devastated” by Baumeister's death.
“This is the first patient death he has had,” Rodriguez said in the statement. “Although what happened has been widely documented as a complication of the procedure the patient underwent, it is not a situation any surgeon wants to have.”
Rodriguez did not describe the procedure that Omulepu performed on Baumeister, but in court filings on the other cases she has said that he performs liposuction procedures “almost exclusively.”
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. According to health department complaints filed in previous cases of medical malpractice, Omulepu perforated the organs of two patients with a cannula on the same day, and he caused serious infections to two additional patients also while performing liposuction — all in May 2015.
Steven Rosenberg, a Palm Beach dermatologist and member of the Florida Board of Medicine that regulates doctors, said he was “frustrated” that the state appeals court delayed the panel’s decision to revoke Omulepu’s license in April. The board had investigated complaints against the doctor for more than a year before reaching its decision.
“We revoke a doctor’s license and the judges override it,” Rosenberg said. He noted that the appeal process can drag out while physicians continue to practice and potentially place patients at risk. Omulepu’s medical license on file with the Florida health department is listed as “clear/active.”
“Everybody on the board finds this particularly frustrating,” Rosenberg said. “We spend so much time preparing for these cases, listening to them. ... We’re doing a service to try and protect the public and then a judge basically allows the physician to continue to practice.”
State officials are not the only ones seeking to hold Omulepu accountable. In January, a patient filed a medical malpractice lawsuit in Miami-Dade circuit court alleging that Omulepu permanently disfigured her during two cosmetic surgeries in 2015 — a breast augmentation and a revision.
According to the suit, Rosmery Diaz of Miami began vomiting blood and feeling extreme pain shortly after the first surgery. She was also bleeding and her breasts began to spread outward, the complaint alleges.
We revoke a doctor’s license and the judges override it.
Steven Rosenberg, Florida Board of Medicine
Omulepu performed a second surgery on Diaz about four months later, according to the suit, but her condition did not improve.
Kimberly Cook, a Miami attorney defending Omulepu in the lawsuit, could not be reached for comment Friday.
Andres Beregovich, Diaz’s attorney, issued a statement expressing his client’s disbelief that Omulepu has been allowed to continue practicing.
“With so many people seriously injured by Omulepu, it is reckless for our courts to allow Omulepu the opportunity to continue to perform plastic surgery, and this is causing great public harm,” Beregovich said.
The health department and the medical board have tried repeatedly to stop or restrict Omulepu’s ability to perform liposuction following the four patient injuries in May 2015.
In February 2016, state officials imposed an emergency restriction on the doctor’s license. The following month, the health department charged Omulepu with repeated medical malpractice. And in April, the medical board revoked Omulepu’s license after finding that he was negligent.
Each time, Omulepu has regained the right to practice medicine.
In opposing the health department’s most recent request to restrict Omulepu from performing liposuction, his attorney, Rodriguez, argued that the doctor’s practice should not be limited.
“There is no basis for finding that he is unsafe to continue to perform liposuction pending the appeal,” Rodriguez wrote, “when he has been practicing and doing this procedure for many months since these injuries occurred without having these complications recur.”
The appeals court denied the state’s request on Thursday, said Brad Dalton, a health department spokesman. Dalton said the state agency filed a second request to restrict Omulepu’s license on the same day.