Outburst Causes Board of Medicine To Call For Law Enforcement At Meetings

Jul 29, 2016

Members of the Florida Board of Medicine asked the state to provide a law enforcement officer at its future meetings after an enraged Brandon woman, screaming obscenities, tried to accost her former physician during a hearing in Tampa on Friday.

The woman was blocked by a security guard, and Dr. Stephen D. Watson and his attorney were able to leave the Tampa Westshore Marriott before Cheryl Pohl, 48, could catch up with them. After a few more minutes of yelling in the parking lot, she got into a white Jeep and sped away.

The security guard, John Thomas of Universal Protection Service, said later that he saw no need to restrain the woman or call police, since his size advantage enabled him to block the woman long enough for the doctor to get away.

“I didn’t want to see anything happen to the doctor,” Thomas said.

As the meeting was ending board member Nicholas Romanello suggested that in light of recent public shootings, including one in a hospital in Parrish, it would be appropriate to have a uniformed law enforcement officer at future meetings.

“In light of shootings in San Bernardino, then there was the hospital-based shooting in Brevard, better safe than sorry,” Romanello said. “You aren’t going to be able to prevent all the evils of the world, but you deter a lot of potential bad actors if you have a uniformed law enforcement person rather than an unarmed security guard.”

Pohl has a malpractice suit pending against Watson, but has no attorney. She declined to speak with a reporter.

Watson, who runs Innovative Spine Care in Tampa, specializes in pain treatment, conducting minimally invasive spinal surgery in an outpatient facility. The hearing concerned his treatment of Pohl five years ago. 

Afterward, she complained that she was in constant pain and had lost much of the strength in her legs. However, experts who reviewed the case for the health department found fault only with Watson’s follow-up care.

Rather than see Pohl in a follow-up visit, Watson, who was in the process of moving from Ohio to Tampa, left her after-care to a chiropractor. He conceded at Friday’s hearing that that was inappropriate.

“I find myself embarrassed,” Watson said. “There’s no excuse for what I did. I abrogated my responsibility.”