Health Care

State, citing mental problems, issues emergency restriction of Fort Lauderdale doctor

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A Fort Lauderdale doctor who was Baker Act-ed four times in two months has had her license suspended by the Florida Department of Health because the state says she won’t treat her bipolar disorder.

That summarizes the findings in Dr. Linda Cox’s emergency restriction order (ERO), which came down July 9. Despite the use of “emergency,” 75 percent of the events cited in the order took place in 2017 and 2018.

“Staff at Dr. Cox’s office stopped scheduling patients in April 2017 due to concerns about her mental health and fitness to practice,” the ERO said.

That month, her staff noticed that she showed “inappropriate, paranoid and manic behavior” and during office visits “instead of discussing the patients’ concerns, she discussed her personal issues at length.”

Cox rejected, the ERO says, requests by her staff and even her spouse that she get help. Her staff got help, calling in Broward Sheriff’s Office crisis team “for assistance with Dr. Cox’s erratic behavior.”

Cox also avoided an August 2017 examination by Dr. I. Jack Abramson after the Department of Health asked her to undergo one. Eight months later, the agency went to Broward County court to seek a court order. By the time the court issued a judgment requiring Cox to be examined by Abramson, it was October 2018, 18 months after Cox’s staff stopped scheduling patients.

The ERO said that along with telling Abramson about the four Baker Act incidents between June 2017 and August 2017, she said, “she had been advised to take various psychotropic medications, but that she had not been compliant with this advice.” Nor was she under anyone’s medical care at the time.

Abramson thought Cox’s recent history and eschewing treatment for what she said had been diagnosed as “manic depressive illness” left her unfit to practice.

“Dr. Abramson noted that Dr. Cox was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and that she had a lack of insight and judgment into her illness,” the ERO said. “Dr. Abramson also noted that Dr. Cox’s psychiatrist terminated treatment with Dr. Cox due to her noncompliance with his treatment plan and recommendations.”

With Cox refusing treatment and oversight by the Professionals Resource Network, the Board of Medicine’s impaired practitioner monitoring arm, the DOH issued the license restriction forbidding Cox from practicing medicine. It will remain is in place until Professionals Resource Network tells the DOH that Cox can safely practice medicine again.

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Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.