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10 doctors and nurses suspended

The Florida Department of Health's latest round of emergency suspensions includes 10 doctors and nurses charged with violations ranging from unlawful dispensing of narcotics to sexual acts with a patient.

The DOH order, announced Wednesday, immediately forbids the practitioners from treating patients in Florida.

"I am committed to suspending or revoking the licenses of practitioners who act inappropriately,” Florida Surgeon General Dr. Frank Farmer said in the release.

The DOH has stepped up its game in recent months, streamlining the emergency suspension process to make sure action is taken as soon as possible after a serious complaint, said spokeswoman Jennifer Hirst.

“At this point, 10 per week is about average,” she said.

Each practitioner will be entitled to a hearing before Florida’s Board of Medicine before final action is taken, she said.

The accusations include one against Dr. Richard Hayes of Kissimmee, who allegedly over-prescribed pain pills and made sexual advances on a female patient while she was in his office.

Hayes kissed and fondled the patient after his medical assistant left the room, DOH documents state. He then prescribed her hundreds of pills and requested that she return for a follow-up appointment.

Dr. Donald Bletz, who practiced at Total Medical Express in Boca Raton, is also accused of over-prescribing oxycodone, valium and other drugs.

One red flag, the report says, is that patients would drive several hours to see Bletz and get their drugs.

Further investigation found that Bletz did not keep proper medical records and operated below the Standard of Care, the report says.

Nurse Judy Henderson, is accused of stealing jewelry from an 86-year-old resident at the Bentley Village assisted living facility.

Henderson had a key to the woman’s home so she could assist, but stole $50,000 to $80,000 worth of jewelry and later sold it, according to DOH documents.

---Health News Florida is an independent online publication dedicated to public-service journalism. Reporter Brittany Alana Davis can be reached at 954-239-8968 or by e-mail.