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Sarasota Doctor Withdraws Agreement In Malpractice Case

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

Controversial Sarasota urologist Ronald E. Wheeler has withdrawn from an agreement that would have settled state charges of malpractice against him, according to the Department of Health.  

Wheeler’s decision means that his case has been removed from the agenda of the Board of Medicine meeting Oct. 7 in West Palm Beach, said DOH spokesman Brad Dalton.

Wheeler, who treats prostate cancer with ultrasound and has unconventional views about biopsy, has been in a standoff with DOH since the agency began investigating him four years ago. Two years ago, DOH and Wheeler signed a settlement agreement that did not call for a suspension from practice. DOH prosecutors said they were worried that if Wheeler demanded a formal hearing, they would have trouble proving their case and might not prevail.

But Board of Medicine members refused to accept anything less than a suspension and ordered DOH to make it happen.   Two years passed.

In August, as Health News Florida reported, it looked as though DOH had managed to reach an agreement with Wheeler that would satisfy the Board of Medicine.

It included a one-year suspension, an independent evaluation of his practice, 10 years’ probation under indirect supervision and a fine of $40,000. Further, Wheeler would have had to pay DOH’s costs of investigating and prosecuting him, which were already $48,000.

In signing the agreement, Wheeler would not have been admitting that he had done anything wrong. It would have brought relief from the escalation of legal fees. But he would not have been able to practice for at least a year.

Wheeler did not answer a request for an explanation.

The end of the agreement means DOH and Wheeler are still in a standoff. 

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.