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Physician Who Practiced Holistic Medicine Lost License After Patient with Cancer Dies

Oldham & Smith Jan. 24, 2017

Physicians who practice holistic and integrative medicine to the detriment of their patients may find themselves in trouble with their state medical authorities and civilly liable for medical malpractice. Dr. Kenneth Woliner of Boca Raton, Florida, lost his medical license in November after his patient, college student Stephanie Sofronsky, died from untreated stage 3 Hodgkin Lymphoma. The Florida Department of Health’s Board of Medicine found Woliner acted as Sofronsky’s primary care physician, incorrectly attributed her symptoms to mold, and did not uphold his duties as a physician and ensure that she received the property treatment for her cancer.

If you lost a loved one due to a physician’s error, you may be able to bring a medical malpractice claim in court. Contact the experienced Florida medical malpractice attorneys of Oldham & Smith.

The Revocation of Woliner’s Medical License

Stephanie Sofronsky was 23 years old when she was diagnosed with cancer. Having a difficult time accepting the diagnosis, she sought second and third opinions from Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. Both the second and third opinions confirmed she had Hodgkin lymphoma. She was told there was a high chance of beating the disease with the proper chemotherapy. However, Sofronsky had come to rely on Woliner’s medical opinion and held him out as her primary care physician. Woliner did not support the cancer diagnosis and told Sofronsky her symptoms were likely due to a mold allergy. Woliner proceeded to treat Sofronsky as if she had a mold allergy while the symptoms of her cancer worsened. He did not encourage her or follow up with her regarding the chemotherapy, which she never received.

After a 2-day hearing regarding Woliner’s treatment of Sofronsky, an administrative law judge recommended to the Board that his license be revoked due to his committing malpractice and financially exploiting his patient. Woliner was also fined $16,000 and ordered to pay Sofronsky’s estate $2,990.

Integrative Medicine Must Uphold a Physician’s Standard of Care

All physicians must provide their patients a certain standard of care. Physicians must treat their patients with the same skill and care as a reasonably competent health care provider who practices the same specialty and who has a similar educational background would offer in similar circumstances. Under this standard, a family doctor’s actions would be weighed against the customary actions of other competent family physicians. Oncologists’ actions are compared to how other oncologists would treat a patient in a similar situation, and so forth. According to Florida law, complementary or alternative health treatments are not prohibited. However, they do not alter a physician’s duty of care. Physicians can offer holistic and integrative medicine, but they must still uphold their medical duty by fully informing patients of their conditions and treatment options. Patients must always be able to make an informed decision regarding the benefits and risks of various treatments.

Do You Believe You Have a Medical Malpractice Claim?

Many patients prefer integrative or holistic medicine instead of focusing on traditional medical diagnoses and treatments. While physicians often believe in the benefits of alternative remedies and offer them to patients, physicians must always uphold their duty of care based on standards of modern medicine. Physicians who focus on alternative diagnoses and treatments to their patient’s detriment breach their duty toward their patients and may be liable for a medical malpractice claim.

If you believe you or a loved one was not treated properly by a doctor, contact Oldham & Smith today to schedule a consultation.