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Pain-clinic doctor suspended after protest

Two days after a citizens' protest in front of a Fort Lauderdale pain clinic, the state issued an emergency license suspension of an 84-year-old doctor who worked there.

State Surgeon General John Armstrong'sorderaccuses the physician, Leonard Haimes, of overprescribing the painkiller oxycodone and other drugs inappropriately and in excessive amounts to six patients. The patients were not identified except by initials.

The order, issued Monday, came two days after the anti-pill-mill group called STOPPNOW held a demonstration at the clinic where Haimes practiced, the Pain Center of Broward County on North Federal Highway. The group had picketed the same clinic in late May.

Maureen Kielian, a member of the group, said in an e-mail that the protesters were "frustrated that it took so long for the DOH to issue this Emergency Suspension Order."

DOH could have shut down the clinic years ago, she wrote. "In the meantime, patients were harmed," and docttors and clinic owners made millions of dollars.

"In short order, there will be another doctor who will answer a CraigsList ad to pocket easy money by becoming a drug dealer in a white coat," she predicted.

Health News Florida was unable to reach Dr. Haimes. An unidentified man who answered the phone at the clinic Friday morning said no one there was interested in commenting.

--Health News Florida, journalism for a healthy state, is a service of WUSF Public Media.

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.