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Board Disciplines Doctor in Fatal Overdose

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Lottie Watts
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

During its meeting Friday in Tampa, the Florida Board of Medicine issued fines and penalties against Hillsborough County physician Betty Jo Carter, for her role in a friend's death.

She was accused of overmedicating a patient and speeding up his death.  She was charged with malpractice, inappropriate drug dispensing and records violations.

She said her patient, Gary Lazar, was dying and had refused hospice care. She said she felt obliged to stay overnight at her patient's home.

“Because he had no one else to take care of him, and he lived five minutes away, and he had briefly helped me with some of the work in the office,” Carter told board members.  “And he was my friend and he lived very close. I could not say, ‘no, I can’t do this.’”

She has a week to decide whether or not to accept the board's decision, which includes paying a $5,000 fine, taking remedial education courses on boundaries and drugs and undergoing a risk-assessment of her practice by outside experts.

The fine is $3,000 less than what the Department of Health had recommended in its proposed settlement; board members said they believed Carter was well-intentioned and not motivated by criminal intent or financial gain in her treatment of the patient. 

--Health News Florida is part of WUSF Public Media. Contact Lottie Watts at 813-974-8705 (desk) or e-mail at For more health news, visit

Lottie Watts covers health and health policy for Health News Florida, now a part of WUSF Public Media. She also produces Florida Matters, WUSF's weekly public affairs show.