A Florida appeals court on Monday ordered that a South Florida doctor stop performing plastic surgery after one of his patients died last week during a liposuction and fat transfer procedure at an office clinic in Doral.
Osakatukei “Osak” Omulepu, 44, is barred from performing plastic surgery and must have a board-certified physician present for any other medical procedures, until Florida’s First District Court of Appeal rules on the state’s efforts to stop the doctor from practicing.
Florida officials had tried three times since February 2016 to stop Omulepu from performing liposuction and a fat transfer procedure to the buttocks known as a “Brazilian butt lift,” his self-declared specialty. Each time, the same state appellate court in Tallahassee restored Omulepu’s practicing privileges under his Florida medical license.
The appellate court moved to stop Omulepu, however, after one of his patients suddenly stopped breathing during surgery. Lattia Baumeister, 30, of Illinois, died from fat clots in her lung due to liposuction and fat transfer surgery, the Miami-Dade medical examiner’s office reported this week.
In response to the court having restricted his license, Omulepu offered to work under the supervision of a board-certified plastic surgeon, said his attorney, Monica Rodriguez.
“We’re going to wait to hear what the court has to say,” Rodriguez said Tuesday.
Like most of the five women who have died at South Florida office surgery clinics in the past year, Baumeister was visiting from out of state and patronizing a center that advertises low-cost procedures with financing plans, Seduction by Jardon’s Medical Center in Doral.
Baumeister, a married mother of six, arrived in Miami on May 30 for a liposuction and fat transfer, Miami-Dade police investigators said. The following day, she went through a pre-operation screening and was approved for surgery, police said.
On June 1, Omulepu was performing surgery when Baumeister went into cardiac arrest, police said. She was rushed to Kendall Regional Medical Center, where doctors pronounced her dead — on the same day that the Florida appeals court had rejected the state’s request to stop Omulepu from performing liposuction surgery.
The court had denied that request, calling it a “defacto suspension,” because, Omulepu’s attorney had argued, he performs liposuction “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 punctured the organs of two patients with a cannula on the same day, and he caused serious infections for two additional patients also while performing liposuction — all in May 2015.
A fifth patient also has sued Omulepu for medical malpractice in Miami-Dade circuit court, alleging that he permanently disfigured her during two cosmetic surgeries in 2015 — a breast augmentation and a revision. That case has yet to reach trial or settlement.
But Omulepu is still fighting the state’s effort to revoke his medical license for allegedly causing serious injuries to the four patients in May 2015. That case led to the state’s first effort to restrict Omulepu from performing liposuction in February 2016, but the Florida appeals court overturned that action.
Then in April, the Florida Board of Medicine voted to revoke Omulepu’s license after finding him negligent in that case. But the appeals court ordered the state to delay the revocation while Omulepu appealed.
The health department then asked the appeals court to stop Omulepu from performing liposuction while his case was under appeal, but that request was denied on June 1. The state followed up with a request that the court require Omulepu to have a board-certified physician present whenever he performs surgery.
Baumeister died before the court had a chance to respond to the state’s request.