State medical authorities revoked the medical license of an “integrative medicine” doctor Thursday for his role in the death of a college student from untreated cancer.
Bad advice from Dr. Kenneth Woliner of Boca Raton was responsible for the student’s decision to forgo chemotherapy, said the Florida Board of Medicine at a meeting in Jacksonville.
Woliner said he will seek a court stay of the board’s decision while he appeals it through the court system. Courts usually grant stays in such cases.
The Woliner case was unusually long and hard-fought, ending in a 5-4 vote. It could serve as a warning to other doctors who have adopted a trendy holistic medicine practice style that they are still required to abide by the state’s quality of care standards.
In voting for revocation, the board heeded the recommendation of Hearing Officer Mary Li Creasy, who held two days of hearings in February and issued her opinion in late April. Florida Department of Health prosecutors proved by “clear and convincing evidence” that Woliner committed medical malpractice and financially exploited his patient, Creasy wrote.
The board agreed with Creasy about the malpractice but by a one-vote margin disagreed about the exploitation.
As Health News Florida reported last month Florida Atlantic University senior Stephanie Sofronsky died in February 2013 after nearly two years of seeing Woliner.
Even though both Moffitt Cancer Center and Mayo Clinic had diagnosed Sofronsky as having stage 3 Hodgkin lymphoma, Woliner decided her symptoms were more likely due to allergies, records show.
At Thursday’s hearing, Woliner’s lawyers argued that:
- The state’s witnesses weren't qualified to judge Woliner because they don’t practice “integrative medicine.”
- Part of the evidence against him was attained through an illegal recording by Sofronsky’s mother.
- Stephanie Sofronsky was an adult and solely responsible for “running away” from cancer treatment.
But the board sided with the Florida Department of Health, which argued that Woliner steered the patient away from the treatment she needed in favor of allergy tests and treatments of dubious value.
Health News Florida special correspondent Carol Gentry contributed to this article.