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License revoked over fake credentials

By Christine Giordano
4/7/2009 © Health News Florida
 
Declaring they have “zero tolerance for fraud,” members of the Florida Board of Medicine revoked the license of a Winter Park doctor who forged credentials making him appear an expert in pain management.

Juan Richards didn’t just hang the phony certificate on the wall, the Department of Health said in its complaint. He also tricked insurers into thinking he was certified by the American Board of Pain Management.

DOH prosecutors had reached a settlement with Richards that called for a reprimand and $10,000 fine but would have allowed him to keep practicing. However, when the case came before the Board of Medicine last Friday, members refused to accept it, saying it wasn’t strict enough.

Richards’ attorney, Brian Kahan, said that no one had gotten hurt. Board member Jason Rosenberg disagreed.  “There were other appropriately trained physicians in that community who could have seen those patients,” he said. 

Rosenberg said the case needed to serve as an example to citizens of Florida, who look to the Board of Medicine to make sure doctors are legitimate.

Richards, who moved from Miami in 2008, said he had his office manager handle the creation of the certificate. Board member Gary Winchester said he doubted that the office manager would come up with the scheme on her own. “I really think that she was instructed to do that,” he said.

Another way Richards irked the medical board was by suggesting that he does “not very much” pain-management now.

Board member Donald Mullins read a classified ad he found March 18 on the popular website Craigslist.com, which said the doctor helped with pain management.  Mullins said Healthgrades.com and Yahoo.com also continue to list the doctor as a pain management specialist.

The board voted 11-1 to revoke Richards’ license. He has seven days to appeal.  Calls to his lawyer were not returned on Monday. 

--Contact Christine Giordano or Editor Carol Gentry.