A Miami cosmetic surgeon accused of severely injuring four patients in May 2015 during liposuction and so-called Brazilian butt lift procedures said through an attorney on Tuesday that he will fight the Florida Department of Health’s efforts to revoke his medical license for alleged malpractice.
Dr. Osakatukei “Osak” Omulepu filed documents this month with the health department announcing his intent to dispute allegations in the state’s complaint, including charges that he used the wrong concentration of a local anesthetic, that he perforated patients’ organs and that he failed to discharge patients to a facility capable of providing appropriate care.
Richard T. Woulfe, an attorney representing Omulepu, declined to address the specific points of contention. But he noted that the doctor will challenge “most of the factual claims made by the department” when the case is heard by an administrative law judge.
“At this point it’s early,” he said, “and I think we’re going to stand on that.”
Omulepu, who participated in a conference call with Woulfe and another attorney, declined to comment.
State health officials initially issued an emergency order in February restricting Omulepu from performing liposuction and fat transfers to the buttocks, stating that the doctor presents an “immediate serious danger” to the public health.
Woulfe said Omulepu stopped performing cosmetic surgeries after the emergency order was issued. Prior to the health department’s complaints, Omulepu had practiced at Spectrum-Aesthetics Center for Cosmetic Surgery and Vanity Cosmetic Surgery, both in Miami.
“There’s a very limited ability to practice under the current restrictive order,” Woulfe said. “So he decided not to risk anything and he has not been practicing.”
The injured patients, all women ranging in age from 29 to 35, were not identified in the state’s complaint, which only used their initials. All of the patients’ injuries required hospitalization from three days to three months, according to state records.
Omulepu does not carry medical malpractice insurance, a decision that some patients who spoke on condition of anonymity said left them with no legal recourse for seeking repayment of hospital bills resulting from their botched cosmetic surgeries.
Florida law does not require physicians to carry medical malpractice insurance, Woulfe said, though doctors are required to inform patients of that choice. Woulfe said he speaks regularly with physicians who choose not to carry medical malpractice insurance.
“Frankly, the cost of insurance is significant,” he said. “So on most occasions it's a business decision.”
Under Florida’s process for enforcing complaints against physicians, Omulepu’s challenge will be reviewed in a quasi-judicial trial before the state’s Division of Administrative Hearings, which will then deliver a recommendation to the state’s Board of Medicine.
But the Board of Medicine, which has the authority to revoke physician licenses, is not required to follow the administrative judge’s recommendations and may choose a different form of discipline or none at all. Both the health department, whose attorneys are prosecuting the case, and Omulepu can contest the Board of Medicine’s final ruling to the district court of appeal.